Students in last year’s nursing career program take the blood pressure of Regina McKinney. Brandy Laster, a ninth-grader at King’s Fork High School, measures the blood pressure while Maggie Laster, a ninth-grader in the International Baccalaureate program at King’s Fork, observes.
Students in last year’s nursing career program take the blood pressure of Regina McKinney. Brandy Laster, a ninth-grader at King’s Fork High School, measures the blood pressure while Maggie Laster, a ninth-grader in the International Baccalaureate program at King’s Fork, observes. (Submitted Photo)

Archived Story

Nurse’s mentoring program set

Published 8:35pm Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Regina McKinney and her family went through some tough times growing up in Hampton.

“I grew up poor,” said McKinney, who now lives in Suffolk.

Having run track in middle and high school, she won a scholarship to run for Hampton University, where she enrolled in the nursing program.

“There, I was able to meet nurses that were successful,” McKinney said.

She learned that not only does nursing provide a middle-class income, but also it offers good job security.

Now, she’s spreading that news to young people through a free mentoring program for middle and high school students that will have an introductory session this Saturday.

After graduating from nursing school in 1988, she worked as an intensive care nurse for 12 years, before graduating from Old Dominion University with her master’s in 2000 and switching gears on her specialty.

Today, McKinney is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist — and an ardent believer in the profession of nursing as a ticket into the middle class.

With a drive to lift others up and generally give back, for which she credits her strong spiritual faith, McKinney has helped start the free program to prepare young people for a career in nursing after high school.

“This is the second year of the program,” she said. “It introduces youth to the field of nursing and prepares them for a career in nursing.”

Targeting middle and high school students, the program involves tutoring, before nurses from different specialty areas talk to the school students about their given area of expertise.

Most of the volunteers are members of McKinney’s nursing sorority, she said.

While last year the program was at the East Suffolk Recreation Center, this year it moves to the Amedeo Classroom at Sentara Obici Hospital, where participants meet the first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to noon.

The space-limited program runs from Sept. 20 through June 6, 2015. An introductory meeting is set for this Saturday between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., also in Obici’s Amedeo Classroom.

“I wanted to give back to the community,” McKinney said, adding that she’d been thinking about starting the program since beginning mentoring children at her church five or six years ago.

McKinney invited anyone interest to contact her for more information at 218-6871, or email rmckinneycrna@yahoo.com.

“I love nursing, and I know that nursing was a pathway to the middle class (for) me,” McKinney said.

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