Enrollment for Baccalaureate Nursing Programs Increases for 10th Consecutive Year

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recently reported a 6.1 percent increase in enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs from 2009 to 2010. This marks the 10th consecutive year of increases in new nursing students. The AACN’s annual survey provides data on enrollment and graduations reported by the nation’s baccalaureate and graduate degree programs in nursing. This year’s preliminary findings are based on data reported from 648 of the 807 schools of nursing in the United States.

AACN also reported that the number of students enrolled in baccalaureate degree completion programs, also known as RN-to-BSN programs, increased by 20.6 percent during 2010. Although the number of student nurses continues to increase, 52,115 qualified applications were still turned away due to the shortage of faculty and clinical placement sites.

To read more, visit www.aacn.nche.edu.

Nominate a Nurse for the 2011 International Awards for Nursing Excellence

Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) presents the 2011 International Awards for Nursing Excellence. These awards recognize nursing achievements in the fields of technology, media, chapter excellence, research and leadership. Award recipients will be honored at STTI's 41st Biennial Convention in Grapevine, Texas taking place October 29 to November 2, 2011.

Polls are open until March 1, 2011. Visit www.nursingsociety.org and nominate someone today.

The Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association (FNSNA) offers an undergraduate nursing scholarship in memory of Frances Tompkins. All United States citizens and students currently enrolled in state-approved schools of nursing or pre-nursing in associate degree, baccalaureate, diploma, generic doctorate and generic master's programs are eligible for this scholarship. Applications must be submitted by January 14, 2011. Apply today at www.nsna.org.

Each year, the American Cancer Society provides scholarships for Graduate Students in Cancer Nursing Practice. This award supports graduate students pursuing a master's degree in cancer nursing or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP).

The application deadline is February 1, 2011. For more information, visit www.cancer.org.

Meridian Health presents the Barbara Bailey Nursing Scholarship each year during National Nurse’s Week. The scholarship is awarded to an eligible nursing student of any specialty, but special consideration will be given to those specializing in pediatrics, in honor of Barbara Bailey’s career and love of pediatric nursing.

All applications must be submitted by March 21, 2011. Visit www.meridianhealth.com for more information about Barbara and to apply.

2009-2010 Progress Report Now Available

The 2009-2010 Progress Report highlights significant activity of the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future. You can order a print version of the latest progress report and view the Campaign’s previous reports at www.DiscoverNursing.com in the Free Materials section. Look for the online version soon as well!

Our new podcast series, Nursing Notes Live, is now available free on iTunes! Visit the Nursing Notes Live show page in the iTunes store to access previously aired episodes and subscribe to the series now!

Second-Career Nurses Advance in Academics and the Workplace

Second-degree nursing students are enrolling in programs that utilize bachelor’s degrees in various disciplines to accelerate an advanced nursing education.

As the nursing profession continues to grow, second-career nurses are becoming an increasingly significant part of the industry. Accelerated academic programs for potential nurses seeking a career from other occupations are ramping up enrollment. In 2007, nearly 10,000 students enrolled in accelerated baccalaureate programs for nursing, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's (AACN) annual survey. Aspects of the nursing profession, like job security and employment growth, are making the career transition an attractive option.

The average age of new nurse graduates has steadily risen and ranged between 29 and 31 in recent years, which demonstrates the years of non-nursing experience that today’s nurses bring to the industry. As a result, these prospective nurses are able to use diverse academic and career backgrounds to their advantage as they pursue a nursing degree.

One such program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Nursing helps these prospective nurses achieve advanced nursing degrees. The school established a program to allow students with bachelors’ degrees in other disciplines to earn a Master’s Entry Clinical Nurse (MECN) degree. In addition to preparing students for bedside jobs, the program is also designed to prepare students for Clinical Nurse Leader certification.

Suzette Cardin, RN, DNSc, FAAN, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the UCLA School of Nursing, says the school created the program in 2006 in response to the shortage of educated nurses in California. At the time, the state ranked 49th for the number of nurses per capita. Since then, the program has graduated more than 150 second-degree students at the master’s level, and the program continues to grow in popularity. Cardin says her experience has shown that these prospective nurses typically consider the switch for a long time and come to the decision with a high level of preparedness.

For Jack Jordanowski, a former U.S. Air Force operations specialist, that transition has led to a nine-year nursing career in the cardiac unit at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway, N.J. His passion for nursing stemmed from his mother’s career as a nurse and at 48, he became a graduate of the Rutgers College of Nursing BSN program.

Accelerated BSN or second-degree BSN programs continue to gain popularity and attract quality applicants to competitive programs. These programs are designed for students like Jordanowski who have a previous bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field. Though typically fast-paced and more rigorous than traditional nursing programs, these programs have historically low dropout rates and can offer degrees in anywhere from 12 to 24 months.

Cardin believes that a low dropout rate for second-degree nursing students is partly due to a sense of assuredness among students entering nursing from a previous career.

“That’s because it’s their calling,” Cardin says. “And I also think that people who choose this path have absolutely given it thought. They really know what they’re getting into and they’re setting everything up so there aren’t any surprises.”

At the UCLA School of Nursing, the program gives prospective students the opportunity to attend informational sessions, which typically attract up to 200 aspiring second-career nurses. In addition to awarding approximately $31 million in scholarships, the school also hosts an annual career fair as a resource for students in the MECN degree program and other nursing programs to find employment. Jordanowski found his start at a similar recruitment fair at the Rutgers College of Nursing, where he and his future employer found a mutual fit for him as a second-career nurse.

“Luckily I was talking to the nurse recruiter and they happened to be looking for someone just like me,” Jordanowski says. “I have always enjoyed helping people – both in the Air Force and now in my community as a nurse.”

“In school and in the workplace, it is obvious that these students are highly motivated to be nurses,” Cardin says. “We continue to hear from hospitals employing these second-career nurses that they absolutely love them!”

For more information on nursing as a second career, visit www.DiscoverNursing.com.

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Highly motivated and experienced second-career nurses are helping to alleviate the nursing workforce and helping alleviate the nationwide shortage.

The Transition to a Career in Nursing

For many in the workforce, the level of job satisfaction just falls short of expectations. What once seemed like the right career move feels completely wrong, and the thought of transitioning seems daunting. However, despite the fears and uncertainties of pursuing a new career, more and more individuals have decided to follow their hearts, change gears and shift to a career in nursing.

For 50-year-old Arizona resident George Blake, tough times paved the way for a time of thought, self-reflection and renewal. Drawing on his observations and experiences with nurses while working in non-medical roles at hospitals and psychiatric facilities, Blake always thought, ‘If I could start all over I would become a nurse.’

“Because of my age and other extenuating circumstances, some people I spoke to told me I would never get the opportunity to become a nurse,” Blake says. “It was something I always dreamed of for my son though.”

After years of trying to convince his son to become a nurse, his son finally turned back to Blake and said, “Dad, you need to take your own advice.” At the age of 54, Blake has done just that. In early 2010, alongside his son, he is now studying to become a nurse.

George Blake is not alone in his quest. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 11,930 students nationwide with bachelor's degrees in other fields were enrolled in second-degree nursing programs at the bachelor's level in 2009, up from 6,090 in 2004. AACN also states that second-degree nursing students often are more motivated, older and have higher academic expectations than traditional entry-level nursing students, thus bringing a new dynamic to the field.

“I firmly believe that to be successful, these students need to prepare their finances and have a good support system before entering a second-degree program,” says Suzette Cardin, RN, DNSc, FAAN, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the UCLA School of Nursing. “These students are typically great about knowing what they’re getting into and setting everything up so that they minimize obstacles.”

While those who choose to pursue nursing are often looking for career marketability or a new start, their decisions also have a positive impact on the U.S. healthcare system. In one study published in Health Affairs, medical experts initially projected a nursing shortage of 760,000 registered nurses (RNs) by 2020. However, because more people are changing careers and pursuing nursing, that shortfall is expected to be closer to 340,000.

For more information on nursing as a second career and a useful Nursing Program Search, visit www.DiscoverNursing.com.

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Get to Know...
Theresa Brown, RN, BSN, PhD, author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between, www.TheresaBrownRN.com

Q: When did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and what is your current specialty?

I decided to pursue a career in nursing when my twin daughters were about 18 months old. That was in August of 2000, and by the start of September I had enrolled in, and was taking, general chemistry. My current specialty is medical oncology, including stem cell transplant. I work inpatient only.

Q: What led you to decide to pursue a career in nursing? And what was your previous career?

The question about why I went into nursing is what I call the million dollar question because I was a college English professor before I became a nurse. Everyone wants to know why I made what they consider to be such a crazy career switch. For me, though, it's not crazy. My dad has a PhD, and I think a large part of why I got one was to try and please him. After having kids, I discovered a whole new world outside the halls of academia. The midwives who managed my pregnancy inspired me to embrace that world by becoming a nurse.

Q: What advice would you give to others interested in pursuing nursing as a second career?

Nursing school is a slog, especially if you do an accelerated program, but once you begin working as a nurse all the annoyances and difficulties of school end up being worth it. So, keep your eyes on the prize, which in this case is the nursing degree. Also, don't overly stress about grades. Make learning your goal as much as you can – not whether you get an A in every class.

Q: How has nursing impacted your life?

How has nursing impacted my life? This is a huge question and one I can only answer with clichés that are nonetheless true. Nursing has taught me how lucky I am to be healthy and well and how lucky I am to have everyone in my family healthy and well. I'm not able to remember that bit of wisdom all the time, but overall the job has given me a deep appreciation of what matters most in life: relationships over things, friendship and kindness over petty grievances, and caring over criticism.

Nursing also became an unexpected, but wholly welcome avenue to a national writing career. I am now a regular columnist for The New York Times blog, "Well," and my book, Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between, was published this past June. I had always loved writing, but felt I didn't have much to write about. With nursing I found my subject and also found I had an audience. It has been a rewarding marriage of past talents and present career goals. Now when people say follow your dreams, you never know where they will take you, I nod knowingly. Nursing has turned out to be transformative for me in ways I never dreamed possible. Maybe it's not such a crazy choice after all.

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