I’m attending the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) annual convention, in Salt Lake City, Utah. I always gripe about meetings here—but then I arrive and realize I’d forgotten what a beautiful place it is. For one thing, there are the mountains rising up behind the cityscape—everywhere you look, there they are. (The photo here was taken from the plane as it was approaching Salt Lake City.) There’s something really relaxing about these views.
I always enjoy this conference—I love meeting the future generation of nurses. This year’s group—about 2,400 strong—are enthusiastic, passionate, and serious about a career, not just a job. Many are people who’ve already been in the workforce. According to figures from the NSNA about the attendees, 47% are 26 or older, 22% are 36 or older, 52% will be graduating from baccalaureate programs, and 93% plan to continue their education. Impressive statistics.
Yesterday’s keynote speaker was Patrick Hickey, a professor at University of South Carolina–Columbia School of Nursing, who has summited the seven highest peaks in the world. He spoke about the challenges of his climbs, especially Mount Everest, where he spread the ashes of a friend who was supposed to have been with him. It was fitting—here, with mountains all around us, and with many in the audience facing their own uphill climb to find a job (for one new nurse’s advice on what not to say to a recent graduate in search of a job, read the April Viewpoint column in AJN, “I Answered the Call—Now Please Give Me a Job”).
Many of the students I spoke with who are graduating in May are finding it difficult to even get an interview. A few said they may have to “do something else” until a nursing job opens up. I’m concerned that if that happens, they won’t come back to nursing.
We—those currently working in some capacity as nurses—need to find creative ways to keep these prospective nurses engaged in the profession, if not with a job right now, then with some kind of program that keeps them in some way involved. If you have such a program at your facility or school, write to me at email@example.com or submit a short piece about it so others might replicate it.