The other side of the nursing shortage: why successful professionals with advanced degrees are choosing nursing.

May 08, 2001

The news has been filled with stories about the inadequate working conditions for nurses in hospitals. As a result of the nursing shortage, nurses are working long hours and taking care of more patients, most of whom are very sick, old and frail. Americans are beginning to voice concern as to who will be there to provide care should they need to be hospitalized.

But there is another side to the nursing shortage. You might want to talk with the young people from diverse professions who have purposively chosen nursing as a career . Over 38% percent of women and men enrolled in the Nursing Program at NYU already have a college degree. Many have had what most of us would consider ideal careers before they decided to become a nurse.

Scott Poticha has been an actor for six years and has acted in regional theater and on soap operas like The Guiding Light and All My Children. Scott came into NYU's Nursing program this year because he was seeking a profession that was more fulfilling and flexible. Scott is one of the growing number of men who have chosen nursing. Between 1996 and 2000, the percentage of men employed in nursing increased 5.4 %.

Eight years ago Alisa Uysal earned an MBA and worked as a financial analyst for a prestigious Wall Street firm. Although she was successful at her job, Alisa was disillusioned. She needed to find a job that would satisfy her on a higher emotional level. "I have always been interested in people's welfare," said Alisa. Nursing was a perfect choice because of the vast number of opportunities it affords her. She could combine the MBA with her BS to become a nurse administrator or she might enter the graduate program and prepare to be a nurse with a specialty in neurology. "The possibilities are endless."

Kiersten Koniskowski got her degree in English from Suny Buffalo and was an assistant editor at a major publishing house for two and a half years. "I felt that I wasn't making a difference and that is important to me," said Kiersten. In 1997,she looked at her options and decided that nursing would satisfy her need to make a difference. Kiersten will graduate as a certified nurse midwife. "As a CNM, I will help empower women by making them more aware of the health choices that can enhance the delivery of their babies."

Catherine Brown worked as a public relations manager for a health care company. She was inspired by the dedicated nurses she met and decided to change her career path.

These nursing students see nursing as a pioneer profession. They fully recognize the hardships of the profession. On the other hand, they have chosen nursing because they see it as a way of blending both the science and the art of healing. They understand the satisfaction that comes from helping people; they see the vast array of settings in which nursing skills can be applied; These nursing students understand that nursing is not just bedpans and changing beds.

New York University Division of Nursing

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