University responds to national nurse shortage

Department of nursing launches mentoring program to combat decreased numbers | January 27, 2003

In response to the shortage of nurses throughout the United States, the University’s department of nursing is initiating a mentoring program to promote the retention of student nurses and the recruitment of nurses into the workforce. The program starts Saturday, Feb. 1, with a daylong education session on campus at the Cohen Center. The program consists of two segments. In the first, nursing students link with nursing alumni to support and foster adjustment to professional careers. Alumni and students meet monthly, and Jeanne-Marie Tapke, director of the mentoring program, remains in contact with participants, offering on-going support. “The program will provide professional development, career awareness and networking to both students and alumni,” she says. The second segment of the program consists of upperclassmen mentoring underclassmen by offering advice and encouragement. “Part of the issue with the shortage in nursing is retaining students,” says Susan Schmidt, chair of the department of nursing. “If we want to retain qualified students, it’s good to have a networking system in addition to the faculty where students can go with questions and/or thoughts.” The University’s department of nursing is responding to the nursing shortage in other ways, too. The department established collaborative relationships to offer intern programs with hospitals in Colorado, Minnesota and Greater Cincinnati. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in July indicated the number of states facing a nursing shortage is at 44, up from 30 in 2000. While the national focus is on the nursing shortage, a survey by the American association of colleges of nursing in December found enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing increased 8 percent last year. At Xavier, enrollment was up 19 percent, more than double the national trend. In addition to a new prelicensure B.S.N. program, the University’s department of nursing offers an option for registered nurses to earn a B.S.N. degree and a Master of Science in Nursing degree in which students may specialize in one of five areas: administration, education, forensics, healthcare law and school health nursing. More than 700 people have graduated from Xavier’s nursing program, many of whom continue to live and practice nursing in Greater Cincinnati. For more information on the mentoring program, please contact Tapke at 859 344-4003. For more information on the department of nursing, contact Schmidt at 513 745-3815.