1. Miracle, Vickie A. EdD, RN, CCRN, CCNS, CCRC, Editor, DCCN

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For the past several years, in addition to serving as the editor-in-chief of Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, I have had the great fortune to teach nursing research to students at a local university school of nursing. I admit that when I took the teaching position, I was not optimistic about the future of nursing. This is the third nursing shortage in my career and it is, by far, the worst. When I left hospital nursing full time a few years ago, I saw burnout, overworked staff, too many patients, so many critically ill patients, patients who should have been seen in clinics and doctors' offices but were coming to the emergency room because they had no other choice. I saw a healthcare system gone awry.


I was, at first, reluctant to teach nursing students. At the time, I was a bit jaded about the future of nursing and was wondering if I had anything left in me to give. What I found were very enthusiastic students who gave so much more to me than I could ever possibly give them. Even in a class of nursing research, the students were like sponges and eager to learn. When the students started the first day of the research class, it was evident (as predicted) they were not eager to be in a research class. They saw research as something somebody else did and extremely boring. By the end of each semester, I saw a transformed group of students eager to enter the field of nursing and even eager to participate in research. While I would like to think I had something to do with this, they actually did it themselves. When I would broach a topic concerning research, the students in the classes became animated and dominated the conversation. They had already read many studies on their own (yes, I said on their own) and were eager to share what they had read with the experiences I had as a "real nurse." They knew they had tremendous challenges in front of them but were not concerned. Each student seemed to have a plan for the future in mind and knew where to turn for help.


Today's students, at least the ones I have encountered in the past 4 years, are enthusiastic and eager to enter the workforce. They want to help alleviate the nursing shortage as well as provide care to those who need it desperately in all clinical settings. Many are interested in entering critical care after graduation. During their clinical rotations, they have witnessed the effects of the nursing shortage and the dire need for qualified, caring professionals to enter our field. While some of them related negative experiences with some nurses and physicians in the clinical setting, the majority said their clinical experiences were helpful and felt they had at least a rudimentary understanding of what to expect after graduation. Many were planning to continue to use research in their areas even after graduation. Some were already considering postgraduate education.


As these wonderful new nurses enter the workforce, I encourage each of you to mentor them. Their minds are like sponges and they are eagerly seeking role models and mentors. Trust me. You will learn more from them, as well, and you may find yourself as re-energized as I find myself. I am hopeful for the future and the promise of these new nurses. I would not be concerned with any of them providing care to myself or any of my family or friends.


So I dedicate this column to the students I have had the past 4 years and to the students I will have the opportunity to work with in the future. Welcome them into your work setting. You will not regret it. They are there to help alleviate some of your burden as well as care for patients and families. Mentor them. You will be surprised at how much better you will feel about the future of nursing. The students are the promise of the future.


Vickie A. Miracle, EdD, RN, CCRN, CCNS, CCRC, Editor, DCCN


Lecturer, Bellarmine University School of Nursing, Louisville, Ky