Sunday, March 08, 2009

If I Was a Wannabe Nurse

So, I recently posted about the $500 million dollars appropriated by Congress for nursing education and other healthcare-related expansion. As I speak with nervous friends and acquaintances who are keen to apply to nursing school, I assure them that there is money coming down the pike. In the meantime, I tell them earnestly, they should take care of as many prerequisite classes as they can, do volunteer work to add to their resume, network with nurses and other professionals for advice, and research every available scholarship, grant, loan program and nursing-related entitlement out there.

For women of color who want to be nurses, I am even more adamant that there will be money available for them if they want to pursue it. African American women, Latina women, Asian women, Native American women, Pacific Islanders---nurses of color are needed and there apparently will be money available for those particular groups to pursue their healthcare-related education. Of course, no government pool of money appears to be unlimited (unless, of course, it's money for bank and corporate bailouts), and some of these women and men will not be able to avail themselves of appropriated dollars to pursue their goals. Still, nurses are needed, and as nursing schools build capacity to educate more students, the best and brightest with the most robust resumes will have a corner on the market.

At this point in history, if I was a wannabe nurse, I would get on the phone, interview every nurse I could find, look for places to volunteer and learn, insinuate myself in places where a pre-nursing student would be a welcome extra pair of hands, and I would then proceed to make myself indispensable.

I would build relationships with nurses, doctors and other sympathetic professionals. I would read books and magazines, and then troll the internet for the latest information on nursing scholarships, the hottest nursing schools, the schools with the highest level of open spaces for new students, and the schools without specific faculty deficits. I would befriend nurse bloggers like myself and get the inside scoop on as many aspects of nursing and nursing education as
I could.

Once I chose the schools that interested me, I would write to the Dean of Nursing of each school, request informational interviews, meet with faculty if possible, and ask current students what they felt most helped them to get accepted. Making friends with the administrative assistant or secretary at each school of nursing would also not hurt my cause, especially if some gourmet chocolate found its way to their desk when I paid a visit.

Once contact was made, I would send hand-written notes to each Dean or faculty member who met with me, and I would subsequently follow up by email periodically to ascertain any changes or developments.

This may all sound cynical and calculated, but I truly believe that in a world where loans and scholarships for a limited number of slots in a limited number of nursing schools is the norm, building relationships and connections is the best way to find your way into the school of your choice, or at least a school which you would accept attending if need be. Also, one secret at this point in history would be applying to schools in multiple regions of the country. The Northeast , Southeast and West Coast are densely populated, and it would behoove pre-nursing students to examine schools somewhat off the beaten track in regions of the country which are perhaps somewhat less desirable places to pursue an education.

Nurses will be needed in droves for many decades to come as Baby Boomers continue to retire in ever increasing numbers, and as the most trusted people in America for the seventh straight year, nurses are in good moral and ethical standing on a societal level. While nurses may not always earn salaries commensurate with their level of education and expertise, they are desirable professionals providing a valuable and meaningful service to millions of people every day.

Nursing will perhaps soon enter a new heyday, wherein nurses assume an even more central role in health care as preventive care gains an increasing share of the limelight. Most nurses are experts in preventive health care, and we need more nurses to educate and care for the aging population of the U.S. (and other countries).

So, Dear Reader, if you are a wannabe nursing student with a fire in the belly and an itch to get that education under your belt so that you can wield a stethoscope and the ubiquitous nurse's pen, work those connections and hit the ground running. Now is the time to jump into the fray as nurses continue to be the growing edge of the health care industry.
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