Authors

  1. Hader, Richard PhD, NE-BC, RN, CHE, CPHQ, FAAN

Article Content

What do attorneys, certified public accountants, teachers, communication specialists, biologists, chemists, and exercise physiologists all have in common? They're all leaving their professions in large numbers and returning to school to attain a degree in nursing. Why the sudden interest in a profession that's been hailed as one that's overworked, underpaid, and suffers from cyclic shortages? Is the answer the lagging economy or has there been a cultural shift in society that's placed an enormous value on a profession that commits itself to caring for others? I'm inclined to speculate that the answer might lie somewhere between the need to find a job and a societal paradigm shift that actually values the contributions of the profession.

 

A different type of nursing student is now on the college campus. More mature students, who bring to the classroom life and professional experience, are now filling the seats of those traditionally held by novice college students. To respond to this insurgent interest in the nursing profession, academic nurse leaders in colleges and universities have scrambled to write curricula that accommodate the academic needs of diverse professionals who've returned to the classroom to achieve a degree in nursing. There has been a proliferation of accelerated baccalaureate degree programs and a greater willingness of college administrators to grant credit for previously achieved scholastic achievements. These accommodations are making it easier than ever before to transition to the nursing profession. After these students graduate, they also bring to the work setting a different world view that challenges nursing service leaders to adjust the manner in which these new graduates assimilate into the work setting.

 

A colleague of mine, who built a long and distinguished career as an exercise physiologist, was recently displaced from his role as a manager of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation due to rightsizing of the organization. A married father of two with 20 years of healthcare experience found himself suddenly unemployed and not particularly marketable despite his previous stellar career. Distraught about the loss of his position and concerned over his ability to support his family, he came to me to ask my advice on his career options. Without hesitation, I suggested that he enroll in a nursing program. Although he'd always respected the profession, he never thought about changing his career path. He's now enrolled in a nursing program and is confident that he'll have a very productive second career.

 

As more of these seasoned professionals enter the profession as novice practitioners, nurse leaders will soon find themselves leading a different type of professional. Previous work experience will alter the homogenous nursing culture that's long existed. Nurse leaders must be proactive and willingly engage these apprentices. We must be open and accepting of their life experience and embrace their new and different views of the profession. By openly accepting their wisdom derived from other professions and acknowledging their unique differences, the profession will be enhanced by their contributions. These new views and opinions will promote an atmosphere of change and self-analysis that will only accelerate our profession and, ultimately, enhance our quest for new knowledge, innovation, and achievement of the next bar of excellence.

  
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Richard Hader

  
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nursing.management@wolterskluwer.com