Darla Vale

Tuesday, 22 March 2005 06:46

The business of nursing

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting the need for 1 million new and replacement registered nurses by the year 2010, nursing schools around the country are exploring creative ways to increase student capacity and reach out to new student populations.

One innovative approach that is gaining momentum is the accelerated degree program for non-nursing graduates. Offered at both the baccalaureate and master's degree levels, these programs build on previous learning experiences and educate individuals with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines to become nurses. The programs may be offered in compressed formats or in year-round scheduling so individuals can complete a program in as little as 15 months.

Adults from the professional world bring many skills and talents that are vital for nursing. These include:

* Motivation. Nursing programs are challenging and time-consuming but adults in business already know what it takes to be successful. The graduation rates and grade point average of adults is usually higher than those of traditional students.

* People skills. Adults in business have already developed professional behaviors that can easily transfer to nursing. Patience, tolerance and compassion for others are essential in nursing.

* Confidence. Professionals from the business world are experienced in defending their ideas so they are strong patient advocates.

* Time management and prioritization. Being able to juggle numerous things at one time is necessary to be successful in nursing programs and as a practicing nurse.

Why is nursing an attractive profession for mid-career professionals?

Nursing is the highest-needed career in Ohio, with 4,510 annual openings each year through 2012, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family services, 2005. It has also been rated the No. 1 or No. 2 top professions in the annual Harris Public Opinion Poll for trust and ethics since 1999.

Nurses are also privileged to be with patients at the most significant times in their lives, making a difference in people's lives every day. The difference may be between comfort and pain, knowledge and fear, freedom and dependence, and even life and death.

Jobs are available in a wide range of settings and specialties, all over the world. And flexibility in scheduling allows for individual preferences. Nurses are also lifelong learners as they continue to encounter new and different conditions and treatments. As both an art and a science, nursing blends a scientific mind, technological know-how and a compassionate heart.

If nursing sounds interesting to you, here are some things to consider when searching for a college program that will help meet your professional goals.

* Format and scheduling of program. Can you take the program part-time? Are courses offered days, evenings or weekends? How long will it take to complete the program?

* Success rate on licensing examination. What is the first-time passage rate on the National Licensure Examination that all graduates need to pass before becoming a licensed registered nurse?

* Faculty qualifications. Does the faculty have a range of expertise? Does it keep current through scholarship and clinical practice?

* Classes and clinicals. Will you get individual attention? How much clinical experience do you get? Where do you go for clinical experiences?

* Cost. What is the cost? Is there financial assistance available?

* Graduation rate. What percentage of students admitted to the program graduate within a specific time period?

The profession of nursing is changing, and so is the student population. Adults comprise over half of the students entering nursing programs nationwide today. Is nursing something you would consider?

Darla Vale, DNSc, RN, CCRN, is chairperson of the Health Sciences Department at the College of Mount St. Joseph. She has authored numerous articles on the nursing shortage and nursing education. Reach her at darla_vale@mail.msj.edu or (513) 244-4322.