Forget the stereotypical nurses dressed in all white, catering to doctors’ every request. Today’s nurses are leaders, technology gurus, and patient care managers, thanks to LPN to BSN (Licensed Practical Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) programs that prepare them for professional success.Karen Daley, RN, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU, Danbury, CT), can attest to this. “My graduates are assertive, innovative, and have the ability to make science-based independent care decisions.”
In fact, by teaching
medical surgical nursing, nursing practicums, as well as leadership and management over the past few years, Daley has noticed a significant change in curriculum. “We moved away from teaching a medical model [memorizing diseases and treatments]. Now, we emphasize conceptual nursing so students can problem-solve and think critically in any situation,” she says. “We encourage independent thinking, assertive communication, and professionalism.”
today’s nurses assume an increasingly professional role, and by doing so, become the “glue that holds the health care system together.” She emphasizes that in addition to having strong assessment skills and a strong theoretical base, nurses need to be experts in technology-, informatics-, and evidence-based practice. “Nurses look at the patient holistically and manage interdisciplinary care. We truly see the whole picture.”It’s no surprise then that these intellectual nurses comprise more than half of all health professionals. In fact, they’re the largest single component of hospital staff, the primary providers of hospital patient care, and they deliver most of the nation’s long-term care.
Stephanie Gunderson, BSN, RN, of Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia, PA), is among the primary providers of hospital care. For Gunderson, pursuing a nursing degree meant making a difference. “
I love being a nurse,” says the Harvard College (Cambridge, MA) graduate who pursued her bachelor of science degree in nursing at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA). After earning a dual undergraduate degree in biology and psychology from Harvard and briefly working as an assistant hedge fund trader and management consultant, she realized something was missing.By earning her BSN in the accelerated, two-year program, Gunderson says the void was filled thanks to the challenging career that boasts flexibility, advancement, continuous earning, and above all, compassion. “I felt like I was making a difference in someone’s life,” she explains.
Through coursework and clinicals, the tenacious student was exposed to countless areas of study. “I worked everywhere from a locked psych unit to a labor and delivery floor in a suburban hospital,” says Gunderson. And every semester, she attended a hands-on clinical that corresponded with classroom work. “The clinicals were intense, involved, and demanding.”
Courses exposed her to a variety of new interests, too. “I never thought I would want to go into adult oncology,” says Gunderson, “but when I found out that I could take a course in it, I signed up. I ended up falling in love with the field.”
Along with a diverse course selection come myriad career opportunities. According to Maureen “Mickey” Mullin, RN, BSN, OCN, Fox Chase Cancer Center’s career specialist, “nursing has expanded beyond the traditional roles to include forensic, informatics, legal, and research nursing. Traditional roles are expanding right along with technology.”
As a result, bedside
nurses now use computers to document care provided to patients on a daily basis, and operating room nurses are assisted by the da Vinci robot, which enables surgeons to perform complex surgeries in a minimally invasive way.Mullin, who is pursuing her MSN through Drexel University’s online program, notes that while nursing is a lucrative field (starting annual salaries in the Philadelphia area are approximately $50K before overtime), prospective nurses need to be aware of the long hours. For Gunderson, that means working every other weekend and half of the holidays.
Because of nurses’ busy schedules, Dr. Gail Tumulty, director of the online nursing program at Loyola University (New Orleans, LA), indicates that online learning is ideal. “Through the flexibility, students are able to log on and complete coursework anytime, anywhere.”
Joe Cockrell, spokesperson for the University of Phoenix, agrees. “We are committed to helping combat the shortage of nurses by providing accessible and convenient degree programs for nursing professionals.” In order to provide students with a state-of-the art education in the sophisticated health care workplace, the University of Phoenix evaluates its curriculum with health care industry leaders and nursing experts to provide innovative, relevant programs.
Lest you think innovative educational health care programs and helping careers attract women only, the
Men in Nursing Survey,” conducted by the Bernard Hodes Group–a global advertising, marketing, and corporate communications company–found the main reason men pursue a nursing career is to help people.Moreover, eight out of 10 men in the study reported they would encourage a male friend to become a nurse, citing such overall benefits as career stability, availability, and opportunity for advancement.
Charles Sonday, MSN, echoes these sentiments. After earning his associate degree in electrical engineering and disliking the desk job he found shortly thereafter, Sonday decided to pursue nursing, and he earned his master of science in the field via Seton Hall University’s online program. “It worked well with a full-time work schedule and being a husband and father of two,” he says.
One of the main reasons Sonday loves the profession is the endless opportunities. “Nothing is ever boring or the same. There is always something new,” says the nurse who now works at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital (Allentown, PA). “If you become tired of the hospital,” he continues, “there are many other areas in which you can practice the art and science, such as occupational health, pharmaceutical, corporate health care specialist, sales, and research. How many other career paths can lead you in so many different and exciting directions? Not to mention the opportunities for further education.” By teaching acute care and final role practicums at Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ), Sonday keeps abreast of new and emerging aspects of the field.
Beyond career opportunities and cutting-edge classes, the common thread among these dedicated, motivated nurses–
today’s nurses–is compassion.
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