Nursing students face admission difficulty
February 25, 2009 7:15 PM
Despite a rising demand for health care practitioners, becoming one at SF State is not a leisurely stroll in the park.
In fact, it's more like a triathlon.
SF State's own nursing program accepts 80 students in the fall and 40 in the spring out of the nearly 800 who actually apply, according to SF State school of nursing director Shirley Girouard.
Jaleel Arnado, a 5th year pre-med student, emphasizes the amount of preparation it takes just to get into medical school, which she is currently applying for.
"On top of having the prerequisites and good grades, you still need to volunteer, work at hospitals and take the MCAT," said Arnado. "For me, it has been really difficult because along with all these science classes, I do volunteer work, and it gets really hard."
The MCAT is the nation's medical college admissions test required for admission to many medical schools.
Every year, about 45,000 students apply to health-related departments nationally and about 22,000 make it in, according to Barry S. Rothman, an SF State health professions advisor. Even more than that are actually good applicants, but there isn't enough space for them, he said.
According to Rothman, health care became extremely privatized about 30 years ago, which drove up costs.
"The more it costs, the harder it is to train more people," Rothman said. "And now, with the beginning of geriatric problems and budget cuts, it will only get worse."
The baby boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964, will begin reaching the retiring age of 65 by 2011 and assistance to these people will be in great demand by 2015, according to John Minnett, president of SF State's Nursing Student Association.
There are 64 million people living in the 6,033 areas of the U.S. with a shortage of primary care professionals, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It would take 16,336 professionals to meet this population's need for primary care providers - that is 2,000 people to one practitioner, it said.
Health care staff shortages hit the nursing industry hardest.
"There is a great shortage of nursing faculty, nursing class room space, clinical sites and preceptors - people that work in hospitals with students one-on-one," said Minnett. "Until financial resources [are] allocated to address these needs, the supply of nurses will remain minimal as compared to the need."
Today there are approximately 150,000 unfilled Registered Nurse positions nationally and will grow to 350,000-750,000 by 2020 based on recent projections, according to Minnett.
"The department is not trying to be picky," said Minnett of the nursing department. "The reality is that there just is not enough faculty and classroom space to accommodate more students."
To relieve the shortage, Minnett emphasizes the need for greater funding.
"If we don't increase our capacity to educate and train new nurses, the nursing shortage crisis that has yet to hit in full force will be much worse," he said. "That will translate into poor patient outcomes with a much greater incidence of patient illness and suffering in the next couple of decades to come."
Katie Loggins, a 2nd year graduate nursing student, applied for the nursing program at her city college, only to find out she was number 452 on the list, trying to get into a program that accepts 30 students per semester. A year and a half later, she found herself only in the low 300s of the list, when she decided to apply to SF State's program.
"I applied with the experience I already had," Loggins said in an email. "My background is in holistic health. I am certified in therapeutic massage, Reiki, Thai massage, studied East African herbalism in Kenya and Tao Shiatsu in Japan."
Though her knowledge in Western medicine was minimal, Loggins' holistic background was appreciated and she was accepted into the program.
Herissa Magadia, a 2nd- year nursing student, attributes her good planning in getting into the nursing program.
"I planned ahead of time what classes to take," she said. "I took several of the required classes in community colleges during summer instead of waiting for a spot at one college campus [and] I did not try to cram all the pre-requisite courses at once."
It's a very stressful process, Magadia says.
For those who do not get into the nursing program, some work on a minor or a different major while continuing to apply, or others pursue a different career altogether,
Donald Pon, a nursing student, applied the first time with just grades, but not enough extracurricular activities. The second time, Pon had the grades and experience by volunteering and doing community service.
"All these items may seem like they are easy to obtain and seem like minor items but they really do make a difference," wrote Pon in an email. "These extracurricular [activities] really help in molding the type of person you want to be when you become a nurse."
But until then, Minnett urges applicants to prepare to work hard to see results in an extremely competitive field.
"[Applicants and students] need to really make themselves stand out in order to get into the nursing program and to get a foot in the door to that first job," he said.
Advanced Life Support and Emergency Medical Technician certifications, working in hospitals as nursing assistants or other unlicensed positions and joining student organizations such as the NSA are a few surefire ways to help, he said.
"In addition to not having the financial support from the state for employing more instructors, the number of students accepted into schools is strongly affected by the number of clinical spaces available," said Loggins. "The economy needs to improve before any changes can be made."
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University