The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) has received a five-year, $1.24 million Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) grant from the National Institutes of Health to support NAHN’s collaborative project with the Hispanic Communications Network (HCN) entitled Hispanic Role Models in Health Careers.
This collaborative NIH R25 program has been established to address the need for cultural and linguistic diversity among health professionals by recruiting and interviewing bilingual role models and arranging to broadcast those interviews. Through these efforts, the project aims to inform Spanish-speakers about the range of health careers open to them through proper education, and to inspire them to imagine themselves in careers focusing on health and medicine.
Leveraging HCN’s nationally-broadcast health education radio shows, whose cumulative audiences are larger than NPR’s “All Things Considered,” as well as the social media outreach of both organizations, this project has the potential to reach one-third of the nation’s Hispanic population during its first five years.
“In the United States, registered nurses represent 3 million members, the largest segment of the U.S. health care workforce.Yet, Hispanics still comprise only 3.6 percent of all nurses. I am excited that NIH has provided NAHN the opportunity to be able to reach out to our Hispanic youth with hopes to inspire them into becoming a professional nurse,” said Angie Millan, Principal Investigator of the Hispanic Role Models In Health Careers.
“This new SEPA project, Hispanic Role Models in Health Care Careers, is aligned with NAHN’s commitment to support professional career opportunities for Hispanic nurses and their effort to improve health in Hispanic communities. The project also supports the SEPA’s goals of providing opportunities for students from underserved communities to pursue careers in biomedical fields and to improve community health literacy,” said Dr. Tony Beck, director of the NIH Office of Science Education/SEPA.
In addition to national media outreach, a number of bilingual online resources for health career aspirants will be established, including an extensive database of volunteer professionals who have said “¡Sí!¡Seré Mentor!” (“Yes! I will mentor you!”). These resources will provide Hispanics of all ages and walks of life with the opportunity to form relationships with seasoned healthcare professionals.
Additional outreach to be established alongside the project include: public speaking and media relations training opportunities provided for attendees of NAHN’s annual conference; an Advisory Committee of health organizations, professionals and advocates established to recommend role models and provide periodic feedback; and bilingual independent evaluators associated with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health instituted to conduct rigorous evaluation throughout the project.
To learn more about the Hispanic Role Models in Health Careers program, please visit www.nihsepa.org
CONTACT: Celia Besore, MBA, CAE, Executive Director/CEO
National Association of Hispanic Nurses, (202) 387-2477
For immediate release:
New Scholarship Opportunity for NAHN Members
Extended NAHN Scholarships and Awards Deadlines
Washington, DC (May 21, 2013) — The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) is delighted to announce the addition of a new scholarship opportunity to the NAHN scholarship program.
The University of Phoenix has partnered with NAHN to offer three (3) full-tuition scholarships. Each scholarship will allow a prospective student the opportunity to complete a LPN/LVN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program at University of Phoenix. Recipients may choose to attend a University of Phoenix on-ground campus or may attend University of Phoenix online.
- Applicants must be current members of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) and must have been a member for six (6) consecutive months or more by the award date for this scholarship.
- Have a valid, unrestricted, unencumbered LPN, LVN license, OR RN license from the United States in all states in which you hold an active license.
- Applicant must be wanting to enroll and pursue one of the following degree programs, LPN/LVN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing*, RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing.
- Applicants, once enrolled, must not receive a total of 100% tuition reimbursement from any source(s) including but not limited to: corporate reimbursement, other scholarships and/or private grants with the exception of Veteran’s Administration GI benefits or Veteran’s Administration Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits and Title IV financial aid funding.
Application deadline: June 18, 2013
Award date: July 26, 2013
Explore the NAHN University of Phoenix Scholarship page to learn about the scholarship program and to apply for this great opportunity or visit http://www.phoenix.edu/nahnscholar.
Extension of NAHN Scholarship Date and Removal of W-2 Requirement
Due to this new scholarship opportunity, NAHN is extending the deadline of the regular NAHN Scholarships program to June 18, 2013 so all the deadlines match the University of Phoenix scholarship application deadline. All NAHN Scholarship applications must be received at the NAHN office by June 18, 2013.
Below is the link to the amended NAHN Scholarship Application Form (with new deadline and waived W-2 requirement):
We encourage all our members who qualify to both scholarship programs to apply to BOTH NAHN scholarship opportunities! Last year, NAHN distributed $40,000 in scholarships.
Extension of NAHN Special Awards Application Deadline
We are also extending the deadline to send the Special NAHN Awards application. All NAHN Scholarship applications must be received at the NAHN office by June 18, 2013. Nominate one of your Chapter champions or nominate yourself!
Below is the link to the 2013 NAHN Special Awards section.
About National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN)
NAHN National Association of Hispanic Nurses® is a non-profit professional association committed to the promotion of the professionalism and dedication of Hispanic nurses by providing equal access to educational, professional, and economic opportunities for Hispanic nurses. NAHN is also dedicated to the improvement of the quality of health and nursing care of Hispanic consumers.
1455 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20004
New learning institute builds on past success to diversify the dental profession
By Janet Edwards
At the age of 13, Esther Lopez, DDS, knew intimately her mother’s battle with cancer because she served as the primary translator between the patient, a native of Ecuador, and her doctors. Even at such a young age, Lopez vowed the excruciating experience would influence her life’s work. She didn’t know the term “public health” then, but that’s where she would later find fulfillment, through dentistry. In part, Lopez credits the now defunct, but still influential, Dental Pipeline program for helping her achieve that dream. A new project, the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute, builds on the program that brought Lopez into dentistry.
Esther Lopez is a dentist in Oak Park, Ill. Through both private practice and volunteer public health efforts, she works with low-income and minority populations, groups that typically find dental services inaccessible, complex, and unwelcoming. In large part, Lopez credits a now-defunct minority recruitment program, the Dental Pipeline, for the opportunity to do such work, a longtime ambition that often seemed out of reach.
Lopez is one of a small number of minority dentists in the country—only 9 percent of practicing dentists are African American, Hispanic, or American Indian. While these underrepresented groups comprise nearly 30 percent of the general population, they account for just 13 percent of first-year dental students. Dental schools and their community partners seek to close that gap through a new program that adopts lessons learned from the Dental Pipeline.
Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute
The original Dental Pipeline launched with funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and The California Endowment. In all, 23 (out of 62) U.S. dental schools were involved in the decade-long program, which ended in 2011. Widely credited with transforming dental education, the Dental Pipeline resulted in better access to care for underserved populations, along with more student exposure to community-based services and higher enrollment among minority students.
A new program launched in fall 2012, the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute (NLI), is intended to build on that success. Project partners are the American Dental Education Association and the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, in San Francisco, Calif. Support comes from an initial 18-month, $650,000 grant funded by RWJF.
Eleven schools were tapped as NLI participants. Each institution receives $12,000 to cover the cost of building a recruitment project or community-based education component. The program includes a three-day training course covering best practices, advocacy and leadership, and various mentoring opportunities.
Paul Glassman, DDS, professor and director of Community Oral Health at University of the Pacific, is project director. The primary goal is to expose other dental schools to methodologies developed as part of the Dental Pipeline “so they wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel,” he says.
Evidence of the Dental Pipeline’s success is found in the numbers, Glassman says. “Schools involved in the Pipeline managed to dramatically increase—double, triple, even quadruple—the number of underrepresented minority students entering their schools. [Enrollments of] other dental schools not involved in the program stayed static,” he says.
The NLI is a one-year program. Participants are dental school faculty members who collaborate with a partner from a local organization, such as a minority-focused college or community health center. “We want some significant community partner involved because we’re really trying to emphasize the fact that in this very complex world that we live in, dental schools really can’t break through these barriers by themselves. The way to make progress in our current world is through partnerships and establishing networks,” Glassman says.
Like its predecessor, the NLI is also designed to develop future leaders in the push to provide more diverse dental care in community-based health settings, Glassman says. Barriers to health care for low-income and minority individuals, which result in less dental care and more dental disease, are well documented, he adds.
“Minority populations tend to have more dental disease than more affluent populations and majority populations. They tend to have more barriers to access to care, so they get care less regularly,” he says. Paying for dental care is a serious obstacle, along with language and cultural challenges. “They feel uncomfortable going into a dental office because they feel someone isn’t going to understand them,” he says.
“We’re expecting people who go through this program to become future leaders in this area, so within their own school and their community, and maybe even regionally, they’re going to be someone steeped in this whole idea of the dental profession doing a better job of improving the health of underserved populations and keep the momentum going,” he says.
The Minority Enrollment Challenge
While the Dental Pipeline made positive inroads toward recruiting minority dental students, the NLI is designed to keep the momentum going, says Kim D’Abreu, senior vice president for access, diversity, and inclusion for the ADEA.
The effort continues to face several high priority challenges. A large pool of minority students who could succeed in dental school remains untapped, D’Abreu says, including 12,500 students of color who graduate with majors in the biological sciences each year. “A 2003 focus group study published in the Journal of Dental Education found that early and frequent exposure to dentistry and dentists in practice is essential for minority students to consider the profession. Dental schools need additional tools and strategies to attract a talented group of underrepresented minority students,” she says.
The process by which dental schools evaluate student candidates is undergoing review, Glassman says.
“Traditionally, admission is based on grade point average, extracurricular activities, and other sorts of measures that aren’t necessarily the measures that students from minorities have excelled in … because they were working while they were in school and facing other social challenges in their lives,” he says. While it makes it harder for them to get through the admission process, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are less qualified or passionate about a career in dentistry, he says. Schools are now adopting a whole file review approach, one less focused on the numbers, Glassman says.
The whole file review, which takes into consideration a host of cognitive and non-cognitive variables, has already proven to be effective and is just one of other successful admissions strategies shared with NLI institutional participants, D’Abreu says.
Engaging Students in Community Health
Along with recruitment of minority students, another goal of the Dental Pipeline was to get students to spend more of their clinical time in community health settings, a mission that continues under the NLI program.
“(In the Dental Pipeline) we increased the number of days from three to four to up to 50 days for senior dental students as part of the education program,” Glassman says. “The hope is that in doing so, these students become more comfortable with community sites, they understand more about that kind of delivery mechanism, become more comfortable with diverse populations, and are better able to serve those populations in the future.”
Esther Lopez knows too well the importance of that exposure. Her father, a Cuban-born immigrant, abandoned the family of three children, including a brother and sister, following the death of her mother. But in the midst of her undergraduate work in biology at DePaul University—coursework Lopez had hoped would lead to medical school—her father returned, homeless and afflicted with health issues that eventually led to two strokes. He had no job and no insurance. Between studies, Lopez pleaded with pharmaceutical companies for free medicine, and again served as a translator with various health agencies and doctors.
“We were able to get some assistance,” Lopez says. “Things were going as well as they could have, considering the fact that we didn’t have health insurance. I really wanted to stay in school so I tried as best I could to find resources to help us along the way.”
By the time her father died in 2000, Lopez, exhausted, had given up on medical school, but she was more determined than ever to help resolve the challenges facing low-income and minority individuals seeking medical care. She completed her bachelor’s degree, and then enrolled in the master’s program in public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). With her coursework finished, Lopez continues to work on her thesis.
While attending UIC, she joined a research project involving people with periodontal disease and diabetes.
“We were trying to determine what needs existed for people that had diabetes, and if they even knew there was a corollary between that and periodontal disease, specifically in the Latino community. I got engaged, really excited, and decided dentistry intrigued me,” Lopez says.
With the help of the Dental Pipeline, she enrolled in UIC’s College of Dentistry. “Dental school is really,
really expensive. The fact that we have programs like the Dental Pipeline for people like me is just amazing,” she says. Lopez received some tuition reimbursement from the program and worked as a research assistant in exchange for remaining tuition waivers.
While in dental school, she joined a group of fellow students in establishing the first student-run dental clinic in the United States.
Located on the north side of Chicago, the clinic still operates in Goldie’s Place, which serves as a place for homeless adults to get back on their feet. In 1997, a single dentist began providing services. In 2008, Lopez and others created the student component.
“Goldie’s Place helps dental students become part of the change, which is what I really wanted to do,” says Lopez, who served for a time as clinic director after graduating
from dental school.
As a student, she often spoke with colleagues about the challenges of health care in low-income communities. “A lot of times someone who comes from privilege has blinders to different barriers that exist. I think it’s more impactful when you’re hearing from a colleague about things that make it hard for you to succeed,” she says.
No matter a person’s race, ethnicity, or income level, dental needs will always be the same: a cavity is always a cavity, an extraction is an extraction, Lopez says. “But the way they perceive disease is always different,” she says, a concept that young dental students initially struggle with at Goldie’s Place. “It’s hard for them to understand, but it’s true. When you come from an underprivileged background, it’s not that you’re neglecting yourself; it’s just that it’s more important to feed your child. Or pay your rent.”
Communicating correct information in a way that is easy for clients to understand is imperative, Lopez says. “It’s important to service them understanding their cultural needs.”
Today, many of her classmates continue to work with grassroots organizations. One student has written a manual on how to establish a student-run dental clinic based on the Goldie’s Place model. “They’re addressing dental health issues not one person at a time, but communities at a time,” Lopez says. Other community-based health organizations in Chicago are beginning to incorporate the model for student clinicians, she says.
“I’m proud of the fact that … I was able to do something like participate in the Goldie’s Place dental clinic. There are so many great things going on there. Every time I hear of some success on their part it makes me happy. If it weren’t for the Dental Pipeline I wouldn’t have been able to do that. It’s meant a lot, not just for me, but for community members that really needed it.”
Lopez continues to volunteer at Goldie’s Place, and as part of a Chicago Community Oral Health Forum project to assess the dental health needs of adults and children. The Dental Pipeline gave Lopez the opportunity to both share her hard-won knowledge in the realm of public health and to establish a meaningful career addressing the issues, she says.
“I’m really excited that programs like this exist because they give students like me a chance to fulfill their dreams,” Lopez says. “It really does make me feel a sense of responsibility, because there was an organization that backed me, to really give back to the community in a significant way.”
Source: Insight Into Diversity
Is something similar to the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute happening in your area to increase the number of minorities that go in to the Nursing profession as well as offer Nursing access to undeserved populations? Comment below!
By ABIGAIL ZUGER, M.D.
When a book is heavy with glossy photographs, you seldom expect too much from its words. In “The American Nurse,” though, it’s the narrative that hits you in the solar plexus.
Take the comments of Jason Short, a hospice nurse in rural Kentucky. Mr. Short started out as an auto mechanic, then became a commercial trucker. “When the economy went under,” he says, “I thought it would be a good idea to get into health care.” But a purely pragmatic decision became a mission: Mr. Short found his calling among the desperately ill of Appalachia and will not be changing careers again.
“Once you get a taste for helping people, it’s kind of addictive,” he says, dodging the inspirational verbiage that often smothers the healing professions in favor of a single incontrovertible point.
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Some of the 75 nurses who tell their stories in this coffee-table book headed into the work with adolescent passion; others backed in reluctantly just to pay the bills. But all of them speak of their difficult, exhilarating job with the same surprised gratitude: “It’s a privilege and honor to do what I do,” says one. “I walk on sacred ground every day.”
They hail from a few dozen health care settings around the country, ranging from large academic institutions like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to tiny facilities like the Villa Loretto Nursing Home in Mount Calvary, Wis., home to 50 patients and a collection of goats, sheep and other animals on a therapeutic farm. Some nurses are administrators, some staff wards or emergency rooms, some visit patients at home. Many are deeply religious, a few are members of the military, and a handful of immigrants were doctors in their home countries.
All describe unique professional paths in short first-person essays culled from video interviews conducted by the photographer Carolyn Jones. Their faces beam out from the book in Ms. Jones’s black-and-white headshots, a few posing with a favorite patient or with their work tools — a medevac helicopter, a stack of prosthetic limbs or a couple of goats.
But even the best photographs are too static to capture people who never stop moving once they get to work. For a real idea of what goes on in their lives, you have to listen to them talk.
Here is Mary Helen Barletti, an intensive care nurse in the Bronx: “My whole life I’ve marched to a the beat of a different drummer. I used to have purple hair, which I’d blow-dry straight up. I wore tight jeans, high heels and — God forgive me — fur (now I am an animal rights activist). My patients loved it. They said I was like sunshine coming into their room.”
Says Judy Ramsay, a pediatric nurse in Chicago: “For twelve years I took care of children who would never get better. People ask how I could do it, but it was the most fulfilling job of my life. We couldn’t cure these kids, but we could give them a better hour or even a better minute of life. All we wanted to do was make their day a little brighter.”
Says Brad Henderson, a nursing student in Wyoming: “I decided to be a nurse because taking care of patients interested me. Once I started, nursing just grabbed me and made me grow up.”
Says Amanda Owen, a wound care nurse at Johns Hopkins: “My nickname here is ‘Pus Princess.’ I don’t talk about my work at cocktail parties.”
John Barbe, a hospice nurse in Florida, sums it up: “When I am out in the community and get asked what I do for a living, I say that I work at Tidewell Hospice, and there’s complete silence. You can hear the crickets chirping. It doesn’t matter because I love what I do; I can’t stay away from this place.”
The volume is not entirely about selfless service: It was underwritten by Fresenius-Kabi, a German health care corporation and leading supplier of intravenous drugs in the United States. Presumably, crass public relations motives lurk somewhere in the background. But that’s no real reason to be meanspirited about the result, a compelling advertisement for an honorable profession.
Young people with kind hearts and uncertain futures might just sit themselves down with the book, or wander through the Web site featuring its video interviews, www.americannurseproject.com, and see what happens.
By: Tanya M. Odom, Ed.M.
Diversity and inclusion is an evolving field. As a learner and practitioner, I work to embrace the expanding definitions while respecting the importance of the historic diversity topics of race and gender.
How we approach conversations about difference can determine how we embrace new definitions of identity, and the “agility” needed to learn, grow, and support all people in organizations.
Multiracial people are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States. As Andrea Williams mentioned in her article about multiracial students in the April/May 2012 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity, “the 2010 Census marked the second time in the survey’s history that responders were allowed to check more than one box regarding their race; the first was in 2000. And as a result, demographers now have access to data that allows for comprehensive comparison and charting of the mixed race population. The results are remarkable: from 2000 to 2010, the number of multiracial American children – who will soon be attending colleges and universities across the country – rose by almost 50%, to 4.2 million.
The changing demographics have inspired people to create language like “the multicultural generation” and “ethnically ambiguous,” among others. Williams’ article presents some important reflection about creating schools and universities that support multiracial students.
Not-for-profit organizations and corporations will also need to update their language, understanding, and awareness to include multiracial employees, and employees with multiracial families.
A June 2012 Fast Company article talked about the importance of “cultural agility.” They defined “cultural agility” as “the capacity to recognize, understand, and respond appropriately to various cultures, and to work within those cultures to achieve business results.” The language of “agility” is also highlighted in the Center for Creative Leadership’s recent newsletter. They talk about flexibility and agility as a key to leadership. Agility is an important part of the learning and awareness in diversity and inclusion. Multiracial identity is not new, nor is the presence of multiracial families in our organizations.
There is a global history of multiracial people. There is a substantial scholarship focusing on the role of multiracial people in our history, media, etc. What we have not seen at the same level is the inclusion of multiracial people in diversity and inclusion dialogues and programs. As a multiracial global diversity and inclusion practitioner and coach, I have learned that, as with all diversity topics, there are varying levels of awareness about what multiracial identity means to employees and to diversity and inclusion initiatives.
One of the first times that I was part of a professional “group” of multiracial individuals was while attending a Working Mother Media Women’s conference. I remember feeling the uniqueness of the experience.
Participants in workshops or present at some of my speeches would approach me and talk about their “invisible diversity,” which for some meant their multiracial identity. For others, it meant their partner, spouse, or child of a different race. Often they swapped tales of not having a place to share their diversity stories.
The presence of multiracial individuals and families can challenge our notions and comfort around talking about race and history, race and families, and race and racism.
Multiracial individuals and families are part of the changing workforce. In the spirit of learning agility, I would suggest that organizations learn to incorporate language and programs that include multiracial individuals and families.
We can continue to be “agile” in our learning about multiracial identity by:
- Assessing data collection that does not allow for identifying as multiracial individuals and families;
- Including multiracial groups as part of the growing affinity/ERG/Networking groups within organizations;
- Allowing multiracial people to self-identify – and not identify employees based upon what we observe;
- Updating our language and communication to include multiracial identity and;
- Learning more about national groups (SWIRL, MAVIN, etc.) that address multiracial identity and families.
Our learning and growth continues as long as we remain “agile.” The inclusion of more stories, experiences, and identities makes the journey even richer.
Tanya Odom, Ed.M, is a part-time Senior Consultant with The FutureWork Institute and a member of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Editorial Board.
Published in September/October 2012 issue.
With the battle over immigration raging on and racial and ethnic minorities surpassing whites for the first time, there's no question the U.S. is getting more diverse.
A newly released study from Brown University has pinpointed just where the most diversity is taking place, scoring metro areas by how evenly each city's population is spread across the five racial groups: Non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics of any race, African-Americans, Asians and an “other” category comprised of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and people of two or more races.
According to the US2010 Project, immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere have expanded the population of minority residents beyond African Americans, a trend that experts say will eventually lead to as many "minority" as "non-minority" residents, if it continues.
As of 2010, western, southern and coastal metropolitan areas continue to be the most diverse, with California's Vallejo-Fairfield claiming the top spot.
In addition to location and how evenly a city's population was distributed across racial groups -- a perfectly diverse place would have a population with exactly 20 percent of each category and a total score of 100 -- the community characteristics researchers correlated with diversity were: large total and foreign-born populations; high rental occupancy, as a community needs a supply of rental housing to accommodate newcomers; a range of occupational options, including entry-level jobs; and a low minority-to-white income ratio.
Check out this
article to see the most and least diverse cities in the U.S.
by Katrina Gravel
This past month, the George Washington University School of Nursing (GW) received a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to fund a program that aims to increase the diversity of nursing professionals, according to a press release from GW. The school’s Success in Nursing Education project focuses not only on drawing in African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American students, but also male students and economically disadvantaged students from Washington, D.C., and rural Virginia. A report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in September 2010 showed that men made up less than 10% of employed RNs licensed between 2000 and 2008, while non-white or Hispanic nurses represented only 16.8% of all registered nurses in 2008. While those percentages may have grown in years since the HHS survey, it is unlikely that the gap has become significantly smaller.
The lack of ethnic minorities, males, and economically disadvantaged nursing students does not reflect the immense diversity of the patients these students will soon be treating. As an article in GW’s student newspaper The GW Hatchet cites the school of nursing’s Dean Jean Johnson as saying, “the nursing workforce should reflect what the population at large looks like.”
GW will use the grant to launch a recruitment campaign to reach disadvantage students, as well as students who are changing careers. The program will offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing, and will utilize retention tools such as mentoring programs. The grant will also create scholarships and financial aid for some students, according to the GW press release.
Has your organization made efforts to diversify its staff? What are your thoughts on the GW program? Leave a comment and let us know!
from USA Today
COCOA BEACH, Fla. -- Yvonne Yacoub has been a nurse for half a century.
In 50 years, she has seen her profession redefine itself to meet the challenges of change, yet continue to struggle with shortages of new practitioners.
Yacoub, 72, who has worked at Cape Canaveral Hospital here for 36 years, is decades older than the 46-year-old average age of employed registered nurses. Some veteran nurses continue to work, but many more have hung up the scrubs for good or are counting the days until retirement.
"In several years, we will see many nurses semi-retire or retire completely," said Bonnie Rudolph, vice president/chief nursing officer for Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Fla., and Health First's chief nursing officer. "Nursing is a very physical job, and many nurses cannot continue to stand, lift patients and continue to work the required shifts."
As baby boomers age, the need for nurses will increase. Even though the number of licensed registered nurses in the United States has grown from 1.7 million in 1980 to 3.1 million today, the total is not enough to meet the expected demand. Registered nurses remain at the top of the list when it comes to employment growth, so hospital systems are being proactive in trying to retain older employees.
Recruiting more male nurses, now only 7 percent of the work force, could help ease the shortage.
Most male nurses, such as baby boomer Jim Carberry, a nurse supervisor in the intensive care unit at Holmes, enter the field as a second career. Carberry was a respiratory therapist for 20 years before becoming a nurse.
"I wouldn't say it's harder to be a nurse today. It's just different," Carberry said.
"With so much specialty nursing, we all have had to learn so many new ways of doing things," he said. "It's not just one nurse doing all of a patient's care in a day. It can be several with special skills."
While nursing schools are graduating highly skilled individuals, the experience of older workers is impossible to teach in a classroom.
Registered nurse Rebecca Madore, 23 on her third day on the job at Wuesthoff Medical Center -- Rockledge, Fla., acknowledges that the reality of nursing can be daunting.
"I learned a lot at school, but it's totally different when you're actually working the floor," she said.
Madore knew she wanted to be a nurse since she was a little girl, but for many of her colleagues, the profession is a career, not a calling.
"Each group's work ethic is different," said Suzanne Woods, vice president and chief nursing officer for Health First's community hospital division.
"The veterans and baby boomers feel almost total responsibility for the workplace and will come in on short notice and cover difficult shifts. This has always been their practice. The Gen X and Millenniums are more cognizant of home-and-life balance and strive to keep this in check."
Each generation also brings different skills, all needed to best serve patients.
"The younger nurses are very technologically advanced, but the older nurses are more connected with the patients," said Rosemary Walter, director of the medical/surgical unit at Wuesthoff in Rockledge.
Technological savvy, a given for new nursing grads and necessary for survival in the health care field today, can be difficult for older nurses to embrace.
"I feel we have an advantage over older generations in the new advancements of paperless systems, computer charting and the new diagnostics," said Michele McCray Miller, 26. "Throughout nursing school, we were constantly using simulated mannequins, computer programs and other electronic devices to master skills such as NG (nasogastric) tubes, catheters and IV skills. Older generations were not as lucky to have those resources in the classroom."
Allison Rogers has been a nurse for two years. Rogers' mother was a nurse. This member of Generation X had no doubts about her career choice.
"I know how important my job is, and I consider it an honor to care for patients the way I would want my family to be taken care of," Rogers said.
1. Communication Skills
Solid communication skills are a basic foundation for any career. But for nurses, it’s one of the most important aspects of the job. A great nurse has excellent communication skills, especially when it comes to speaking and listening. Based on team and patient feedback, they are able to problem-solve and effectively communicate with patients and families.
Nurses always need to be on top of their game and make sure that their patients are clearly understood by everyone else. A truly stellar nurse is able to advocate for her patients and anticipate their needs.
2. Emotional Stability
Nursing is a stressful job where traumatic situations are common. The ability to accept suffering and death without letting it get personal is crucial. Some days can seem like non-stop gloom and doom.
That’s not to say that there aren’t heartwarming moments in nursing. Helping a patient recover, reuniting families, or bonding with fellow nurses are special benefits of the job. A great nurse is able to manage the stress of sad situations, but also draws strength from the wonderful outcomes that can and do happen.
Great nurses have empathy for the pain and suffering of patients. They are able to feel compassion and provide comfort. But be prepared for the occasional bout of compassion fatigue; it happens to the greatest of nurses. Learn how to recognize the symptoms and deal with it efficiently.
Patients look to nurses as their advocates — the softer side of hospital bureaucracy. Being sympathetic to the patient’s hospital experience can go a long way in terms of improving patient care. Sometimes, an empathetic nurse is all patients have to look forward to.
Being flexible and rolling with the punches is a staple of any career, but it’s especially important for nurses. A great nurse is flexible with regards to working hours and responsibilities. Nurses, like doctors, are often required to work long periods of overtime, late or overnight shifts, and weekends.
Know that it comes with the territory. The upside is that a fluctuating schedule often means you’re skipping the 9 to 5, cubicle treadmill. Sounds perfect, right? Run errands, go to the movies, or spend time with the family — all while the sun still shines!
5. Attention to Detail
Every step in the medical field is one that can have far-reaching consequences. A great nurse pays excellent attention to detail and is careful not to skip steps or make errors.
From reading a patient’s chart correctly to remembering the nuances of a delicate case, there’ s nothing that should be left to chance in nursing. When a simple mistake can spell tragedy for another’s life, attention to detail can literally be the difference between life and death.
6. Interpersonal Skills
Nurses are the link between doctors and patients. A great nurse has excellent interpersonal skills and works well in a variety of situations with different people. They work well with other nurses, doctors, and other members of the staff.
Nurses are the glue that holds the hospital together. Patients see nurses as a friendly face and doctors depend on nurses to keep them on their toes. A great nurse balances the needs of patient and doctor as seamlessly as possible.
7. Physical Endurance
Frequent physical tasks, standing for long periods of time, lifting heavy objects (or people), and performing a number of taxing maneuvers on a daily basis are staples of nursing life. It’s definitely not a desk job.
Always on the go, a great nurse maintains her energy throughout her shift, whether she’s in a surgery or checking in on a patient. Staying strong, eating right, and having a healthy lifestyle outside of nursing is important too!
8. Problem Solving Skills
A great nurse can think quickly and address problems as — or before — they arise.
With sick patients, trauma cases, and emergencies, nurses always need to be on hand to solve a tricky situation. Whether it’s handling the family, soothing a patient, dealing with a doctor, or managing the staff, having good problem solving skills is a top quality of a great nurse.
9. Quick Response
Nurses need to be ready to respond quickly to emergencies and other situations that arise. Quite often, health care work is simply the response to sudden incidences, and nurses must always be prepared for the unexpected.
Staying on their feet, keeping their head cool in a crisis, and a calm attitude are great qualities in a nurse.
Respect goes a long way. Great nurses respect people and rules. They remain impartial at all times and are mindful of confidentiality requirements and different cultures and traditions. Above all, they respect the wishes of the patient him- or herself.
Great nurses respect the hospital staff and each other, understanding that the patient comes first. And nurses who respect others are highly respected in return.
Many researchers have studied patient--provider communication and documented the tensions and misunderstandings often seen in this important process. But these concerns are far greater when the patients are minorities or don't understand English well, and when healthcare providers aren't equipped to explain the intricacies of care to people whose cultural beliefs may make American medicine a mystery.
Award-winning filmmakers Maren Grainger-Monsen, M.D., and Julia Haslett explore these issues in a series of films called Worlds Apart, which document the experiences of minority Americans and patients from other countries in the U.S. health care system. This unique project, made with partial support from The Commonwealth Fund, dramatizes communication between patients and their doctors, tensions between modern medicine and cultural beliefs, and the ongoing burdens of racial and ethnic discrimination.
In this film, Alicia Mercado, a 60-year-old Puerto Rican woman, struggles to keep up with her chronic diabetes, hypertension, and asthma after being evicted from her apartment and suffering depression.
For more information on these films, please visit The Commonwealth Fund website at www.cmwf.org