The Nursing Consortium of Florida, a non-profit coalition of hospitals, nursing schools, and hospice and healthcare staffing organizations, conducted the “Day in the Life of a Nurse” program for the 22nd year during November.
On Thursday, Nov. 17, in partnership with South Florida public school districts and numerous private high schools, a total of 37 South Florida host facilities and 36 schools collaborated to make an in person experience possible again for nearly 700 students that took part in the Day in the Life of a Nurse program this year at hospitals and schools of nursing from Marathon to Loxahatchee.
“We are delighted that so many facilities offered to host student groups for in person experiences this year. Our collective goal is to inspire students to pursue a career in nursing by providing them a glimpse of the important and varied work that nurses do,” said Jason Dunne, vice president operations for Arizona College of Nursing and program chair. “This program provides students with a unique opportunity to shadow registered nurses and learn about this truly rewarding career. We also work closely with the public school systems to provide curriculum material so that teachers can introduce nursing topics into their lessons and reinforce student experiences, and since 2020 we have added a virtual program with curated video content for teachers to share with students; some of which is interactive.”
In most instances, students participating in the in person one-day program take part in various activities including nurse led tours of hospital departments. This experience allows students to spend time with a nurse and ask them individual questions about their profession, their challenges, and their nursing stories.
Students also typically meet and hear from nurse educators, information systems nurses, nurse researchers, and nurse administrators. In addition to shadowing staff nurses and listening to various presentations, student experiences can include learning to take a person’s blood pressure and pulse, listening to their heart beat through a stethoscope, scrubbing in and dressing out in surgical attire, touring a surgical room where they may handle high tech equipment, and spending time in skills labs and simulation suites typically used for nurse education and testing.
In order to accommodate growing interest in the program, some student groups also visit college campuses where they spend time with faculty and nursing students and interact with patient simulators and other educational tools.
“We are so pleased to have the students come in and spend time with area nurses. Each can be an inspiration to the other,” noted Consortium president Maria Suarez, assistant vice president for Nursing Administration at Miami Cancer Institute.
“Former program participants are now nurses in various South Florida hospitals. Of course, not every program participant discovers a calling to become a nurse, but it is important that young people gain a better understanding of the many career opportunities within the nursing profession, the academic requirements for pursuing a nursing education, and the attributes common to successful nurses including compassion, common sense, the ability to handle stress and maintain composure under difficult circumstances, a pleasant and affable personality, a passion for life-long learning, and the ability to work in teams effectively.”
The COVID pandemic, accelerated the retirement of older nurses and in other ways contributed to an increase in hospital vacancies. Initiatives such as Day in the Life of a Nurse are important to ensuring that the current nurse shortage can be sooner alleviated.
With such a great number of employment opportunities on the horizon, Day in the Life of a Nurse provides South Florida middle and high school students an up close and personal experience to the world of nursing.
In addition to the adverse impact on quality of care and patient satisfaction resulting from nurse shortages, local and state economies are adversely impacted by vacant nurse positions. Nowhere in the state is healthcare more important than in South Florida where the healthcare sector is the third largest source of jobs behind the tourism and the public sectors.
“Having an ample and high quality nurse workforce is not only key to our ability to care for a growing number of seniors in our population, but also key to the region’s ability to continue to grow as a health care destination in this era of greater transparency that includes published standardized health outcomes and patient satisfaction measures that facilitate the comparison of health care facilities across the country,” noted Ralph Egües, executive director of the Nursing Consortium of Florida. “Day in the Life of a Nurse and other Consortium initiatives not only contribute to the South Florida’s future physical and mental well being, it has a real impact on the region’s economic vitality as well.”
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