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Careers in nursing.

Nurses are more in demand now than ever and this trend is expected to continue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects professional nursing as the health profession of the future.

If you are looking for a career that is both emotionally and financially rewarding, join the two million men and women who have made nursing their choice. Nurses are more in demand now than ever and this trend is expected to continue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects professional nursing as the health profession of the future. According to the Bureau, an additional two million nurses will be needed between now and the year 2000. So if your career choice is nursing, smile: your prospects of job and financial security are great.

Nursing is an art and a science that involves the management of health care needs of clients both sick and well. Nurses use knowledge and skills derived from the natural and behavioral sciences as well as nursing to bring about positive health outcomes for clients or, when necessary, to assist them to peaceful deaths. As the nation's largest group of health care providers, nurses work in a variety of settings: hospitals, clinics, schools, industries, physician offices, health maintenance organizations, hospice centers, home health, pharmaceutical companies, research centers, and other settings where health care is delivered or decisions related to health are made.

The best preparation for a career in nursing begins early in one's academic career. Courses such as biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and math are essentials. These courses provide the foundation for the study of nursing. Developing good study habits and note-taking skills is also important. Set aside a time to study and maintain that regime. Organize your class notes and discuss them with a friend or your instructor. You don't want to fall into the habit of deceiving yourself by saying: "I know the answer to that, but I just can't explain it." Engage in activities to develop critical thinking and decision making skills. There are important skills you will need to be successful in your studies and in the practice of nursing.

Dr. Francis Henderson, chair of the School of Nursing at Alcorn State, says, "The most frequent question asked by students exploring a career in nursing is: How will courses in chemistry, literature, sociology, art, political science, computers, and philosophy help me in nursing?" Nursing is not practiced in a vacuum; these courses also help students to examine personal beliefs and values, as well as those of others. They increase an awareness and appreciation of the world and help students to analyze social phenomena as they occur in society. In other words, these courses help the student to be a better person and, therefore, a better nurse.

The positions held by nurses depend on educational background and work experience. The American Nurses Association considers the baccalaureate degree the minimum preparation for entry into professional nursing. Baccalaureate-prepared nurses are trained as nurse-generalists in the areas of maternity, pediatrics, medical-surgical, psychiatric, and community health nursing. After graduating and passing the National License Examination, these professionals usually hold positions as staff nurses who provide direct client care. With experience, the baccalaureate-prepared nurse may advance to head nurse or nurse-supervisor.

A nurse who takes a year or two to complete a master's degree may specialize in any area of nursing and, depending upon the educational preparation, may hold the title of nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist. Master's-prepared nurses hold a variety of positions in the health care system. These positions include providing direct client care, teaching in schools of nursing, and managing multi-million dollar health care systems. The nurse who earns a PhD may hold positions in research centers, educational institutions, and hospital administration.

The March, 1992 College Placement Council Survey reported average entry-level salary offers of $29,572 annually for baccalaureate degree candidates. This salary may increase according to shift differentials and the days of the week a nurse works. A 1991 American Association of Colleges of Nursing's salary survey indicates a master's-prepared nurse-educator earned an average salary of $40,255 annually, but could have earned $44,000 as a head nurse. A professor with a doctorate earned an average salary of $62,500, but could have earned up to $80,900 as a top nursing service executive.

Dr. Linda Burnes Bolton, president of the National Black Nurses' Association and director, Nursing Research & Development at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, sees a lack of African-American nurses with preparation at the baccalaureate and advanced degree levels. She also expresses a need for more African-American nurses at the management level and in research. Dr. Bolton states: "We need nurses who are going to get advanced degrees and are going to meet the primary health care needs of our changing population." The baccalaureate degree provides a foundation for advanced study in nursing.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have successfully produced a significant number of baccalaureate- and master's-prepared nurses. The strong, supportive environment at HBCUs is a contributing factor. However, regardless of the ethnic background of the school you consider, there are several pertinent questions each student can ask to gain more insight into the merits of the institution:

1. Is the school accredited by the National League for Nursing?

2. What unique assets does the school have?

3. What is the retention and progression rate for African-American students?

4. What percentage of the past five graduating classes passed the National License Examination on the first writing?

5. What percentage of African Americans pass the National License Examination on the first writing?

6. What percentage of the students and faculty are African Americans?

7. Are the students happy with their choice?

8. How much time do students spend in the clinical lab, and at what point in the curriculum does the clinical experience begin?

Remember, the quality of your education will affect you for the rest of your professional life!

The curriculum in nursing is demanding. Students must maneuver nursing courses, clinical laboratories, and other university courses with personal responsibilities. It is not easy to report to clinical lab at 6:45 a.m. after studying volumes of materials the night before, or to come to the campus for a three-hour class after six hours in the clinical lab. Thus, time management, discipline, and commitment are important. At times, school responsibilities may seem to be overwhelming, but talk it out with someone who is going through the program or who has successfully completed the program. Develop your support system and, before you know it, you will graduate.

Rhonda Payne, a junior nursing student at Dillard University, gives the following advice to students who may be considering a career in nursing:

* As you move through your education, don't lose sight of the goals you set.

* If possible, take a speed reading course.

* Develop good interpersonal skills.

* Learn what the health issues are and how you can impact them.

* Learn as much as possible so that you will be prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with other health care providers to provide quality health care to all patients.

* Become involved through volunteer work and be able to seek and understand the big picture of the health care agenda.

* Take courses that will prepare you for graduate school.

* Realize that you don't know everything.

New graduates enter the work world with a mixture of excitement, pride, and fear. For the first time, they are without the safety net of the instructor. There are mounds of paper work, new expectations, and acceptance of greater accountability and responsibilities. To ease the stress of this transition period, employers usually plan an orientation period of three to six months. During this time the graduate is introduced to the institutional culture including policies and procedures. The orientation period serves as a support mechanism and allows for a less stressful transition into nursing practice.

Transition into the work world and career advancement can be arduous for African-American nurses. The social climate toward individuals of color and the lack of role models and mentors are contributing factors. Pat Tillman, nurse-recruiter, Veterans Medical Center of New Orleans, gives this advice to new graduates: "Get the most from the orientation period. Ask lots of questions, become familiar with the institution's hierarchy, strive to be a team player, and concentrate on your work."

Once the orientation period is over, it is important to remember that nothing is just handed to you. If possible, find a mentor. A mentor can help to facilitate your success in the profession. You must also get involved. Becoming involved includes accepting committee assignments to develop leadership skills, setting career goals that include continuing education courses or study toward advanced degrees, and joining professional organizations to network with other nurses. Becoming involved helps to expand your career options.

Role Model Profile

Pamela Frank-Bean Manager (Department Head), Family Practice Unit University of California, Davis Medical Center Sacramento, CA

Pamela Frank-Bean serves as administrative head and assumes the administrative management--fiscal, personnel, and program management--of the center. She is responsible for policy development (clinical and administrative) and development of patient care standards. She develops and implements procedures to comply with all insurance contract guidelines (HMO, PPO, MediCare and MediCal), and monitors all billing practices.

She started with the center in 1971 as an LVN, floating to all Med/Surg areas. In 1977, Frank-Bean received her AA degree and RN license and worked in Med/Surg units and in the education department as classification coordinator. In 1980 she earned her BA in health management at Pacific College. In 1989, she was awarded a master's in nursing administration from the UC, San Francisco School of Nursing.

Pamela Frank-Bean worked full time while pursuing all the above educational goals.

Her advice to students: "Hard work, motivation, and a positive attitude. As a woman of color from South Louisiana, I easily overcame barriers because doing so had become a way of life. Not carrying a chip on your shoulder is critical. Be positive about who you are, where you are, and where you want to be."

The National Black Nurses' Association, Inc. (NBNA)

The National Black Nurses' Association, Inc. (NBNA) was organized in 1971 under the leadership of Dr. Lauranne Sams, former dean and professor of nursing, School of Nursing, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama.

NBNA is a non-profit organization incorporated on September 2, 1972 in the State of Ohio. It has sixty-one chartered chapters, located nation-wide and reaches approximately 130,000 nurses from the USA, the Caribbean, and Africa.

NBNA's mission is to provide a forum for collective action by African-American nurses to, "Investigate, define, and determine the health care needs of African-Americans and to implement change to make health care available to African-Americans and other minorities' health care commensurate to that of the larger society."

NBNA is committed to excellence in education and conducts continuing education programs for nurses and allied health professionals throughout the year. The Association provides an annual scholarship for students.

NBNA collaborates with private and public agencies/organizations who share common concerns for improving the health status of all people particularly focusing on African-American and other consumers of color.

NBNA publishes a newsletter four times a year--January, April, July and October--and a scholarly journal twice a year - Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.

NBNA conducts an Annual National Institute and Conference. The 1993 Conference will focus on "Strengthening the African-American Family: A Strategy for Reducing Violence in African-American Communities." The conference will convene at the Hyatt Orlando, Orlando, Florida, August 4-8, 1993.

Contact: National Black Nurses' Association, Inc. 1012 10th Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001

E. Scottie Amos, RN, PhD, is professor and chair, Division of Nursing at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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Title Annotation:Career Reports/The Professions; Annual Jobs Issue; includes role model profile and related article
Author:Amos, E. Scottie
Publication:The Black Collegian
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:1947
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