One Strategy to Support Tomorrow's Nurse Leaders
by, 10-20-2009 at 03:57 PM (5683 Views)
Although nurse vacancy rates are currently low (due to the economic recession) and nurses are finding it more difficult to find jobs, we are still facing a severe nursing shortage. According to Peter Buerhaus’ projections, we will continue to experience a shortage of registered nurses reaching 260,000 by 2025.
As our schools of nursing strive to produce new graduates to meet the growing demand, they are stretched to capacity and unable to accommodate all qualified applicants. At last report, 40,000 potential students were turned away. But even more concerning is the fact that 57% of new graduates leave their positions within the first two years. Although nurse residency programs have sprung up to end this cycle of turnover and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing is examining a Transition to Practice regulatory model for new graduates, I have found a simple contribution I can make to develop tomorrow's nurse leaders.
At my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing (formerly known as the Medical College of Virginia) I've watched the student population grow from 400 to 1000 while the number of faculty has remained steady. Clearly, there is a need for additional resources and a role for nursing alumni. Recently, the Alumni Association teamed with the School of Nursing to launch the Student/Alumni Connector Program - an innovative program that allows alumni to share their wisdom with students and ease the transition from student to professional.
By creating a “connection” between alumni and students, the program offers an additional resource for students. We understand the pressures of the nursing education program and can provide encouragement and advice in a way that family, faculty, and friends cannot. Alumni serve as their student’s biggest supporter along their educational journey – celebrating major milestones and important dates. Finally, as these students graduate and embark on new professional roles, the alumni community will be there to help them navigate the professional environment.
I am excited to have the opportunity to support tomorrow's nurses. In addition, I am reaching out to you for further ideas, recommendations, and comments to help ensure the success of student nurses and ease their transition into the professional nursing community. I look forward to your comments.