1. Mee, Cheryl L. RN,BC, CMSRN, MSN

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The article "Why Not Nursing?" starting on page 46 of this issue describes nurse-researchers asking 800 teenagers and adults what they think of nursing, and why-or why not-they'd consider it as a career. The results are telling, particularly regarding the basis for a teenager's career decisions.

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Only 5% of teens said they'd consider a career in nursing, often citing "unappealing responsibilities" and "performing menial cleanup tasks" as reasons to stay away. Equally discouraging, only 39% believed that nurses are critical thinkers and capable problem-solvers.


But the researchers also bring encouraging news about how to change these negative perceptions. Of teenagers who indicated an interest in nursing, 10% had spoken to someone about the profession in the previous 6 months; 3% had not. The researchers concluded that teens who'd spoken to someone about a nursing career were three times more likely to choose nursing than those who didn't get those communications. This is strong evidence that you can help steer bright young people into nursing simply by telling them about what you do.


Don't underestimate the value of getting the word out. Not only do young people have gross misconceptions about our work, but they're also unaware of the benefits and opportunities a nursing career offers. For example, even those who expressed interest in nursing didn't think that the profession offers such benefits as job security, flexible schedules, and a good salary.


This summer, think about one thing you can do to dispel myths about nursing. Consider calling a high school to ask about career day or offer to give a presentation. Don't wait to be invited.


As you speak with students, tell them about the range of opportunities and career paths available to nurses. If possible, take along a young nursing student and have him talk about his career choice. Take equipment students can handle so they get a feel for the art and science of nursing. Tell stories about problem solving to emphasize the knowledge, autonomy, and decision making behind your work. And don't forget to emphasize racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in our ranks so all young people can envision themselves as professional nurses.


If you accept the challenge, won't you drop me a line? Tell me what you talked about and how students responded-we'd like to share your experiences in a future issue.


Cheryl L. Mee, RN,BC, CMSRN, MSN


Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2005