My parents had a tremendous influence on my decision to care for others. They owned and operated the only funeral home and provided the area’s only ambulance service in Sherwood, Ohio, where I grew up. My mother was a nurse and I witnessed what she did as a nursing professional – providing unparalleled care and compassion to those in need. It wasn’t unusual for her to serve lunch to homeless men passing through on the railroad, or to be called to help nearby migrant workers who needed health care or help delivering a baby. My father, of course, provided transport to the nearest hospital. My parents’ generosity and kind works confirmed that nursing was the right path for me and I’ve never looked back. I began my career in neurological nursing at Mount Carmel and soon found my passion in nursing education, working as an instructor at Mount Carmel School of Nursing. Teaching led to nursing education administration where I was part of the visionary team to transition the School of Nursing (a diploma program founded in 1903 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross) into Mount Carmel College of Nursing in 1990. The college now has one of the largest baccalaureate nursing programs in Ohio and offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing.
Program growth and meeting the educational needs of an ever-changing health-care environment. Educators must provide the support to meet the demand. Program growth to address the nursing shortage: The average age of a nurse today is 47. Baby Boomers live longer because of technological advances in medicine. Therefore, the community demand for professional registered nurses is high and will continue to rise as nurses retire, people live longer and patient acuity levels rise. To meet these upcoming challenges, national health-care organizations, such as the Institute of Medicine and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, call for nurses to be baccalaureate prepared by 2020. As a result, the college launched our online RN-BSN completion program for licensed registered nurses who want to achieve the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In addition to our traditional pre-licensure program, we offer the second degree accelerated program, a highly competitive 13-month program for students (often career changers) who have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in non-nursing fields. In graduate education, we offer five tracks addressing community need: adult health, nursing administration, family nurse practitioner, adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner and nursing education. Studies indicate that health-care changes mean fewer physicians in the field of primary care/family practice. Mount Carmel is educating family nurse practitioners to meet that need.
The economics of the challenging health-care and education environments: The nursing shortage and effectively meeting the demand for nurses along with rising costs in health-care and health-care reform. How those elements will impact the provision of care and service delivery in the future and the cost of higher education and student debt.
Financing for college in today’s current economic climate is a difficult challenge facing many students throughout the United States, with student college debt at records levels. Together government, academic, business and community leaders must find realistic solutions to assist students with the financial resources to achieve their academic goals. Access to quality and affordable education is critical.
Follow your passion. First and foremost, make sure nursing is the right career for you – that you are bringing to the profession a dynamic combination of care, compassion, skill and intellect. You may be the most brilliant person with exceptional math and science abilities, but if you don’t enjoy working with people at the most vulnerable times of their lives, another career path may be better for you. Second, I am a strong advocate for life-long learning. To move ahead in your career and remain current in your profession, continue to learn and explore everything that life has to offer. Third, find a mentor to champion your journey and be a mentor to others.
In any business environment it’s critically important to continually strive for excellence: to explore best practices among all industries and how those principles might be applied to your organization. It’s an ongoing research and learning process. Look at organizations that benchmark themselves against national quality standards in a variety of areas, ranging from strong associate engagement and excellent customer service programs to curriculum and faculty development.