August 20, 2006, 5:00 pm

Encouraging the Dream


There are just two things I want to do before I can die a happy woman.

One, I want to shake hands with Barry Gibb.

The bonds of matrimony would restrain me from anything else.

Not that I was even thinking along those lines…..

And I want to dance with John Travolta.

Just once.

The Tango Hustle.

In leotards and heels.

At a dance studio.

To “More Than A Woman”.

By the Bee Gees, of course.



It seems that everyone wants to be a nurse, lately.

I have had four people in the last week, two guys and two gals, tell me they were in the process of getting their pre-requisites out of the way so that they could apply to nursing school.

I spoke to one woman who was waiting for her acceptance (or rejection) letter from two different universities in the area.

When I hear this, I don’t just say “Oh, that’s nice” and go on with my duties. I take a minute to sit and talk with them.


First of all, I let them know I am truly excited to hear that they are choosing nursing as a career.

I literally say to them, “That is fantastic. We need you badly! Nursing needs you badly!

I tell them not to be discouraged by difficult classes or doubting whether they will ever make it, especially since most of the ADN schools around here actually have “lotteries” where all qualified candidates are placed in a pool and then chosen by chance.

Can you believe this?

I almost fainted the first time I heard that my future colleagues were being chosen “out-of-a-hat” so to speak.

And that qualified candidates were being turned away for lack of space, instructors or funding.


In 1976, my class had 40 openings and 350 applicants. I was required to apply to the community college assigned to where I lived, I could not apply to the one in the next town. I was stunned that I got in just one year out of high school. A classmate was one year behind me and was accepted right out of high school!

We were just selected. No lottery. Either you were in or you weren’t.

I spent a total of $700 when I went to nursing school. From start to finish. Community colleges in California were free. No tuition.

I heard yesterday that they now charge $26 dollars per unit.

State colleges are very, very expensive. Nowhere near medical school, obviously, but still up there, even for residents of the state.

For this reason, most of the future students I encounter are trying to go the ADN route first, even though it can take up to 3-4 years for the “two-year” degree (after factoring in all pre-requisites).

I tell them if they don’t get into nursing school the first time they apply, don’t give up.

Keep studying.

If necessary, get your AA in General Education, making sure all your classes are transferable to a state college or university and then apply to the BSN programs along with the ADN programs.

I’ve even told people with BA’s who have told me they want to be a nurse to look into entry-level MSN programs.

One of the advantages of nursing is that there are so many different ways to join the profession.

We’ve made it easier for RNs to get their BSNs or MSNs with innovative programs.

It shouldn’t be so hard for quality nursing candidates to join us at the entry level.


This is why I feel so strongly that we need nursing advocates at both the state AND national levels, why it is important that we encourage our colleagues with advanced degrees to consider teaching.

It’s why I’m always harping on the need for a National Nurse.

A spokesperson, someone who can advocate for nursing school funding at all levels, but especially programs that will help pay nursing instructors what they deserve.

In World War Two we had the Cadet Nursing Program. Full tuition for service to the nation during the war.

Are we not in a crisis mode regarding nursing right now? Why not a Cadet Nursing program today? Full tuition for two years service in a county facility or underserved area? Extra funding for participating nursing schools?

There has to be a way. When I am eighty I want to know there will be nurses to take care of ME, prn as opposed to ME still working because I’m needed so much.


I tell these future nurses that they will never work harder, or be more rewarded than they will as a nurse.

I’m lucky. I work in an ER that gives me the chance to actually sit and encourage these future colleagues.

But in addition to encouragement, they need nurturing as they travel the rough path into their chosen programs.

We are all examples of nursing to our patients and their families. To OUR families and friends.

Lets do our part.

Don’t talk down about the profession. Yes, sometimes nursing sucks but so does working at McDonalds, being a police officer, working an ambulance for 48 hours or being a partner in a law firm. Doctors don’t exactly have it easy, either.

Know any teenagers? Talk up the advantages of nursing. If you can’t think of any, you’re in the wrong profession.

Every occupation has it’s pitfalls. But, if you will pardon my expression, “bitching” about nursing doesn’t do our image, or our future as a profession, any favors.

The best and the brightest are waiting to join us.

Let’s encourage those with the brains, the will, the calling, the courage….to be a nurse.


  • Intelinurse2b

    August 20, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    MI gives $4k a year and its a “loan” that gets forgiven if we work in a MI hospital as a nurse for two years.

    I agree-were not doing all that can be done to bring in nurse candidates. Its a nasty cycle, no one wants to pay nurse educators enough, no nurses want to be nurse educators. There are plenty of interested candidates to fill the classes-just no teachers. My class had 2500 QUALIFIED applicants for a mere 132 seats. Needless to say I sobbed liked a baby when I got my acceptance letter-I am so blessed.

  • Michelle

    August 20, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    What a great post, thank you for the encouragement. I just started a LPN program last week. In the area where I live its next to impossible to get accepted into a RN program unless you are already a nurse. I have finished most of my prereq’s for the RN program so it will only take me two semesters to do the LPN-RN bridge program, which I plan on doing as soon as I finish with the program that I am in and pass the NCLEX.

  • Dex

    August 20, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Yes, more nurses, yes. We have doctors in the phillipines going to nursing school so that they can become nurses in the U.S., seriously depleting theamount of drs. in the phillipines. I don’t think there are any nurses left in Haiti or the carribean, judging from the amount in the U.S. Especially multilingual nurses, we want those, yes. We need male nurses too! Male nurses bring a unique viewpoint, like Ben Stiller! We understand how much longer the urethra is, and how much better viscous lidocaine is for intubating mr. johnson! (female nurses understand how sensitive the glands of Skene are, though. Ya know, paraurethral glands in women, esp in gomers with UTI’s? Gomers feel pain, too!)

    We (us healthcare professionals) need more qualified, ambitious, problemsolving, competent, responsible, articulate, confident, proud, assertive, caring, sympathetic, strong humans to take on the oncoming tidal wave of Q-tips with their quavering hands and powerful friends in washington! The generation of patients that will be the nidus of systemic reorganization of our outmoded bureaucratic logjam of a current system! Revolution, brothers and sisters! Organize! Recruit! Viva!

  • Annemiek

    August 21, 2006 at 4:37 am

    Beside more nurses, we need more nurses at the bedside, and wanting to stay at the bedside. I see too many leave lately from our medical floor.

  • StudentNurseJack

    August 21, 2006 at 5:59 am

    I can not tell you how many nurses I talked to told me NOT to go into this profession before I applied to nursing school, and how many nurses I have run into already in Clinicals that I overhear bitching about their jobs/shifts/doctors.

    I can also say that I’ve been a patient of nurses that appeared to hate their jobs or appeared to not have mastered basic nursing skills/techniques, and that’s no fun.

    My daughter wants to be a teacher and already she’s getting feedback telling her “not to go there.” What’s up with that, too?

    Nursing students need to be encouraged, as do those entering any profession. I don’t want the bottom of the barrel teaching my grandchildren in schools, caring for me when I’m hospitalized, or servicing our airliners or my car.

    Dedicated students make dedicated nurses, but we need people like you along the way reminding us that our choice to enter nursing school was a good choice, not a mistake. A little positive encouragement and feedback during our clinical rotations is MOST appreciated by myself and my peers.

    Thank you for your message in this post.

  • Margaret

    August 21, 2006 at 8:07 am

    Kim, I disagree with your ADN-BSN route recommendation. That route is not a dream but a nightmare. I can’t believe that 15 years after my own ordeal there still aren’t enough ADN student spots in public schools, and it still takes 4 years to get a 2-year degree in California…..

    If either of my children ever chooses nursing as a profession, I’ll personally push them to a 4-year degree program that can actually be finished in 4-5 years. It took me 4 years for my ADN. I don’t care how much it costs for them. None of these 10-year plans for a 4-year degree. That’s the biggest BS nurses do to each other (other than eating their young). It adds to the dropout rate because after the ADN student graduates and passes the RN board in a single try, they are then subjected to the whole ‘BSNs are the only worthy RNs’ discussion. Wow, that’s great. I just spend four years obaining my nursing degree and you’re telling me I’m still not worthy because I didn’t do Case Study 101? Three years after graduation less than half of my graduating class was still active in nursing, the rest had gone back to doing what they were doing to make money so they could pay for nursing school.

  • marachne

    August 21, 2006 at 10:21 am

    And there’s not a lot of support for nursing educators either! The faculty population is aging too, and the level of retirement is going to make it even harder to staff nursing programs to educate the next generation of nurses..

    I’m in a PhD program and, while I was led to believe that I’d be covered for my education, it’s been a rough scrabble for funds, and the student debt is piling up — esp at $320 a credit! I am grateful to the tireless folk in my (gero) department who have been trying to fulfill that promise–and got me a lovely $20K scholarship this year…

    Then there’s the issue of having to beat the academic community into providing classes on EDUCATION as well as research, since we all know that most of us will wind up teaching and how fair is it to our students to thow us out there w/o any training?

    One solution to the AD vs. BS issue here in Oregon is the establishment of OCNE–the Oregon Consortum of Nursing Education that ties the community colleges to Oregon Health & Science University.

  • NPs Save Lives

    August 22, 2006 at 5:41 am

    Great post about the incredible need for us to encourage potential nursing students out there! We need to go further and speak to elementary school aged children when they are forming their “work dreams”. I ALWAYS encourage people around me to go into the field if they have the calling to do so. It shouldn’t be for the money only. We can always tell when that happens and so can the patients. Money is important because we have to live and pay off those tremendous student loans (SIGH) but it shouldn’t be the driving force for nursing..


    August 22, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Yeah girl, preach it!

  • Dawn

    August 23, 2006 at 10:59 am

    I entered an LPN program after realizing that I had a better chance of winning the PowerBall than gaining admittance to even a 2-year RN program, even with having earned a BA 20 years previously. The LPN program I was in was wonderful, and I believe it has helped me in the LPN-RN mobility clinicals I’ve been through. My last semester starts on Monday, and I’m both excited and scared; I liken it to being in labor with the second kid – you know what to expect, but then again, you don’t. Getting into the mobility program wasn’t difficult at all, and it beat having to wait in line at 4am to get one of 120 spots to enter the general ADN program at my school.

    As far as being told ‘don’t be a nurse’, I’ve only encountered that once, and that was from a nurse who was burned out, and just an unhappy person period.

    Kim, thanks so much for the encouraging words!

  • Peggy

    September 1, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    My mother and her five sisters worked to put each other through school for their R.N. degrees, which at that time, the 1920s, took four years. There’s a lot of doctors in the family and some of these girls wanted to go to medical school, but the parents just barely okayed nursing school! But my mom and aunts all loved nursing. From the time I was a small child, I loved sitting with them around the dinner table during a family get-together, listening to them gossip and laugh. They were all such characters, but also full of character. You would never hear them say anything unkind about anyone. They also took ongoing courses of study to keep up-to-date with their skills throughout their professional lives. I had no interest in a medical career of any kind, but their perserverence to reach their dreams, dedication to their work, and their integrity and sense of humor has been an inspiration to me all my life. They are one of the reasons I love coming here to read the posts and comments. It feels homey!

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

Continue reading »

Find Me On...
Twitter     Technorati

Subscribe to Emergiblog

Office of the National Nurse

Zippy Was Here

Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics

  • Perspective
  • Confidentiality
  • Disclosure
  • Reliability
  • Courtesy