During the celebration of its centennial, Blanchard Valley Hospital, Findlay, published some “expected nursing behaviors,” taken from its nursing school handbook printed in the early 1900s. One of the behaviors mandated that nurses stand and curtsy when a physician entered the room.
So long subservience. Hello, leadership, critical thinking, teamwork and autonomy!
“The role of nurses has expanded significantly in the past few decades and will only continue to expand,” said Marjorie Walker, associate professor and chair of the University of Findlay’s nursing program. Walker has been leading the program since its beginning in fall 2014.
According to Walker’s welcoming message on the UF website, nurses serve “as advocates for patients, families and communities. They develop and manage nursing care plans, instruct patients and their families in proper care and help individuals and groups take steps to improve or maintain their health.”
The addition of a bachelor of science in nursing to UF’s College of Health Professions was driven by student demand and high future employment projections. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of registered nursing is expected to add more than 439,000 jobs between 2014-2024. This is a growth rate of 16 percent, which the BLS describes as “much faster than average.”
There are currently 53 students in the program, which accepts a cohort of 30 students each fall. Walker is happy with the enrollment and interest shown by prospective students. The course requirements include Microbiology, Chemistry, College Algebra (or higher), Nutrition and Anatomy and Physiology among others.
“The ideal candidate is someone who is strong in science, is good at ‘common sense’ math, likes people and has great communication skills,” stated Walker.” She continued that students are expected to work hard, but get great support from the faculty. “Our students form a connection with faculty right away,” Walker added.
SimBaby and Informatics
The cost of health care is driving the necessity of technology in its related professions, and that includes nursing. In many cases, nurses are responsible for reimbursement and spend time with scanners and bar codes, along with stethoscopes and thermometers. Students in the UF nursing program have classes in Nursing Informatics and Nursing Research, where they learn computerized charting.
“Our undergraduate curriculum gives graduates everything they’ll need at the bedside,” Walker emphasized.
Sophisticated manikins (usually with a first name of “Sim”), can serve as teaching tools for many medical conditions and scenarios. The nursing program has manikins that allow students to monitor vital signs, run case studies, and even deliver a baby. This doesn’t mean, however, that the students don’t get real world experience. Clinical practice begins in the sophomore year and continues for five semesters. Graduates will have logged 865 hours of clinical practice when they complete the program.
Current clinical sites for UF student nurses are Blanchard Valley Hospital; St. Rita’s Hospital and Lima Memorial Hospital, Lima, Ohio; and Wood County Hospital in Bowling Green, Ohio. An instructor is always with the students and evaluates their patient care and communication skills. Walker believes the UF students will be extremely well equipped to begin nursing careers.
Opportunities and Challenges
In addition to a predicted shortage of nurses to care for America’s aging population, patient acuity and patient management will be major issues facing nurses in the future. Health care professionals, on the whole, will treat older and sicker patients.
“Today’s hospitals are becoming acute care facilities,” Walker explained. “Families will be taking more responsibility for their loved ones. Physicians won’t admit patients to hospitals unless they are very ill.”
Even with its challenges, nursing can be an extremely rewarding and diversified career. Walker, herself, teaches a class in Intercultural Care, where students learn how health care is perceived in other cultures. The program recently held a “food sampling” party and invited the University’s international students to bring dishes and sample some American favorites. With U.S. population demographics changing, there’s a good chance that many UF nursing graduates will work primarily with patients of cultures and backgrounds different from their own.
So far, many of the students have expressed interest in advanced practice nursing, continuing their education to become nurse practitioners in a variety of specializations. Walker feels that some may continue to the doctoral level. She’s also pleased that UF’s percentage of male nursing students (15-20%) is much higher than the national average.
“Nurses continue to learn throughout their careers,” said Walker. “Time in school is really short when you think of how much knowledge is needed to provide good patient care.”