05/01/2003

Guidance Counselors Effect the Future of Nursing

by Susie Nena Popstefanov

Career counseling has long been a designated function of the high school guidance counselor. However, guidance counselors are often not entirely informed regarding the opportunities available to nurses today. Consequently, prospective nursing students who are making career decisions may be lacking some important information. Guidance counselors are important influences in the career decisions of high school students and therefore are valuable recruitment targets. It is important that counselors have positive attitudes about nursing and be well informed about the opportunities a career in nursing can provide.

Future nurses may remain in short supply without major efforts to recruit potential candidates into the profession. Many misconceptions still exist about the profession. In my recent study of over 430 high school students, caring and helping people lead healthy lives continues to be a major factor for selecting nursing. However, these students were unaware of the flexible working hours, opportunities to teach in a college or university, opportunities to become an executive and opportunities to engage in cutting edge scientific research. The general perception of students still indicates that there is a lack of knowledge about expanded roles and opportunities for advancement. These high school students also reported that they get the least amount of information about nursing from their guidance counselors.

Five suggestions for increasing student interest in nursing careers


    ·Suggest nursing as a career option to students that excel in their science studies
    ·Invite a nurse or nursing student to speak at career day programs
    ·Offer a nursing scholarship
    ·Place a display in a local school about the variety of opportunities available in nursing
    ·Arrange for high school students to spend a day on a college campus with a nursing student or shadow a nurse at work

What to tell students about nursing careers

Diverse career options and abundant job opportunities exist now for Registered Nurses. A nurse can get a job in any city or state in the nation. Nurses can work when they want to. If you are not a morning person, you can work an evening or night shift. If you like longer periods of time off to travel or enjoy your family, you can work 12-hour shifts and have 3 or 4 days off in a row. If you like excitement, you can work in the emergency room or be a flight nurse on a helicopter that goes out to remote areas to pick up accident victims. If you like being part of happy occasions, you can work in the delivery room where babies make their way into the world or the nursery where new parents learn how to take care of their babies. If you like a new and different challenge every day, you can be a home health nurse going into the community to help people recover from their illnesses in their own homes. If you want to have summers off to be with your children, you can be a school nurse. Men can be nurses too. Nursing is a great equalizer, so gender, ethnicity, and other characteristics do not matter.

The traditional idea of what a nurse does has changed. Options include becoming Nurse Practitioner, who diagnoses and writes prescriptions; a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), who administers anesthesia to the surgical patient or epidurals to the laboring mom; a director of a program, a hospital unit, or a nurse administrator; engaging in research. Nursing is not just changing bedpans.

Beginning nursing salaries, $40-64,000 per year, are quite competitive with other industries. Having a willingness to work night and evening shifts usually result in additional income. Those who want to make higher salaries can get advanced education and become an Advanced Practice Nurse, whose salary can be in the $50,000 to $90,000 range. Nursing offers control over one’s own practice and salary.

College preparatory classes with an emphasis in algebra, biology, chemistry and English are prerequisites for admission to baccalaureate nursing programs. Entry into professional nursing can be achieved through one of three educational programs:

    §Nursing Diploma Program: usually takes three years in an on the job training scenario within a hospital and results in a Certificate, not a college degree
    §Associate Degree Nursing Program: usually takes approximately two-three years in a technical program located in a community college and results in an Associate Degree in Nursing
    §Baccalaureate Degree Nursing Program: usually takes 4 years in a university and results in a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing.


Graduating from any of the three types of programs allows the student to take the state-recognized registered nurse licensure exam, called the NCLEX-RN. Further educational advancement can be achieved with a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing. More information about these programs, scholarships and ideas for poster displays in schools may be located on:
Recruitment and education of younger students “plants the seed” to begin thinking about nursing and generates an informed enthusiasm that teachers and guidance counselors can reinforce in students. Together we can change inaccuracies and promote nursing as a career choice!


Susie Nena Popstefanov is an undergraduate BSN Student Nurse at William Paterson University
Email: susiepop@optonline.net


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