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February 2004 Issue

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College of Nursing Works to Heal Shortage Through Education

Published February 2004

As populations change, so do the roles of health care workers. In a time when five living generations are demanding the attention of doctors, nurses and technicians, ideas and common practices in health care are evolving to meet many different needs. Acting as one of the most versatile caregivers is the nurse.

As consumers become more and more involved in making their own decisions regarding health care, the need for health promotion and health education are on the rise. Nurses have long been the provider of these services, and often have a dramatic effect on patient outcomes and satisfaction.

These ever-changing needs and growing populations have brought with them a need for more nursing professionals, creating what we now know as a national nursing shortage.

“The national nursing shortage can be attributed to multiple factors,” said Andrea Lindell, MSN, DNSc, dean of the UC College of Nursing. “Many other professions are offering more opportunities for women than ever before. The recruitment of women into once male-dominated professions is becoming more and more common. There is an increased demand for nurses’ advanced specialized care in the community.

“With current budgetary climates, resources to academic units are on the decline. As a result, it has been the trend to admit fewer and fewer students into professional programs such as nursing.”

The Cincinnati community is looking at ways to combat nursing shortages locally. Surveys are being used to determine why nurses leave their positions. Many changes in health care are impacting the roles that nurses play, and causing health organizations to make improvements.

Behind the scenes, nursing professionals have worked around the clock to “heal” the shortage. Among the most basic steps taken to add to the supply of nurses nationally is recruitment into nursing education programs. Nursing schools and programs nationwide experienced an upward trend in enrollment in 2003. The UC College of Nursing was no ex-ception. Through innovative recruitment efforts, the college saw a 12.2 percent increase in total enrollment. Faculty, staff and students are reaching out to high school students like never before. Opportunities for scholarships are at an all-time high with support from the college’s own Board of Advisors and area hospitals.

Hefty incentives from hospitals may have lured more students to the pursuit of a degree in nursing, but this is not the only explanation for national upward trends in enrollment. Colleges are making programs more visible, asking the public to take another look at nursing as a career. Johnson & Johnson has used the power of advertising in a national campaign to revisit the value of the nursing profession. Changes in the national health scene has re-established nursing as a respected and viable profession.

To celebrate enrollment increases without looking at retention strategies; however, would be stopping short of a concerted effort to get more nurses in the work force. UC has addressed retention rates head on with programs and curriculum designed specifically for ensuring that students succeed. The college developed a student resource position to assist students with study skills, exam skills, and other needs they may have. The college also offers a freshman success course for pre-nursing students taught by faculty from the College of Nursing.

“This course is an excellent opportunity to introduce students to nursing as a career, allowing students to begin the identification process with their chosen major very early on,” said Anita Finkelman, MSN, RN, director of undergraduate curriculum and associate professor/clinical nursing in the UC College of Nursing.

Due to curriculum changes and the need to engage students earlier than their junior year, the college admitted students in the Winter quarter of their sophomore year. This provides time for additional clinical courses that will assist in the development of critical clinical competencies that are required in today’s health care environment. This strategy should also affect retention rates, as students will become involved in their major much earlier.

“The college’s curriculum revision includes increased clinical hours, greater development of leadership competencies, emphasis on the continuum of care, and additional experience in ambulatory care settings,” said Finkelman.

Along with the curriculum changes, the college is developing collaborative partnerships with health care delivery organizations that will benefit students’ learning and allow the college to work more closely with the practice arena.

To learn more about the UC College of Nursing, visit

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