1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN, EDITOR

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I celebrate the New Year each January 1, but I don't really mean it. September is always the start of a new year to me. I guess those formative years of having summers off and then beginning a new school year every September are with me forever, for in my mind, the new year begins the day after Labor Day. So I find myself now, at the beginning of another September. My oldest grandchild is starting kindergarten this month (how could 5 years have passed so quickly?), and now our entire family will truly once again be engrossed in living life by the school calendar. Also, as a former teacher of undergraduates, I can't help thinking about September as the start of the new college semester for college students. I wonder how many of them will be choosing nursing as their career. I don't have to tell any of you about our declining numbers of nurses, or about the need for all of us to participate in encouraging young people (and not-so-young people as well) to enter nursing programs. But I wonder, how does a child in the 21st century arrive at a decision to become a nurse? I suppose there are many paths, including role modeling by a nurse family member, a school nurse, a wonderful office nurse, or a hospital nurse the child may have met. There's also the media, including children's books. When I was a child there were books about nursing. I remember the book Nurse Nancy. It was a part of the Golden Book series, which made nursing seem like an exciting profession for one's life. Nurses could listen to people's hearts!! Nurses could apply bandages!! Nurses wore caps!! It seemed quite glamorous to me, a child with no family member in any of the health professions. After trying out the world of healthcare through being a candy striper (volunteer) at a local hospital as a teenager, I went on to become a nurse, and so did many of the young women of my generation. Now we find our beloved profession in a crisis mode for the future. With the innumerable choices that young people have now, how are we going to help them see what a great choice nursing can be? I have no data on which to base this, but I feel strongly that one of the reasons more people are not entering the nursing profession is because they don't know what nursing is, what nurses really do, or what a fantastic career path nursing provides. I recently heard that there are at least 75 different specialties within nursing!! How many professions can boast that? Nursing has incredible breadth and depth, but unless we take an active part in describing nursing to the public, they just won't know. We surely can't count on the media to help us. If you read these editorials, you all know how incensed I am about the portrayal of nursing on television. Recently a character on the series Will and Grace entered nursing school, a career path discussed as if it took little intelligence to accomplish. The character in question is portrayed as quite dim witted, which in itself speaks volumes about the show's esteem for nursing. At his graduation (held in a conference room with 10 folding chairs), the student speaker was the stereotypical nurse portrayed in a tight-fitting, low-cut uniform, and with exaggerated cleavage-you remember that image of nursing, don't you? I'm told that Will and Grace is one of the most popular shows on television. Our profession certainly took a hit with that representation.


Who is telling the public about nursing? Who is talking to school children about nursing? Who is writing the children's books that advocate a career in nursing?


Who is telling the public about nursing? Who is talking to school children about nursing? Who is writing the children's books that advocate nursing? Why not a whole series of children's books about nursing, and all the great things nurses can do? Who is starting programs to bring young people to work with a nurse to see the wonderful things we do every day? I know that some of those programs exist, but is there one where you work? If not, why not start one? Why not organize the dedicated nurses in your institution to visit all the schools in your community during this school year to tell the grammar school, junior high, and high school students about nursing? Guidance counselors don't seem to be informing students, or student enrollment in nursing programs would be higher. How about visiting guidance counselors in your school district and asking them to come and see what nurses do? We must take action. We can't wait for others to do it. We need quality people to enter nursing, and we need well-educated nurses to become the next generation of nursing faculty to teach all the eager new student nurses. Take it on as a special project. After all, it's September. It's the start of a new year.