So, you want to be a nurse
Disclaimer: Science was my least favorite subject in high school. I liked earth science OK, but chemistry and biology? Forget about it. Don't even talk to me about physics.
For as long as I can remember, I gravitated toward English, history, and art. Although it never occurred to me that one day I could be a web editor (did we even exist back then?), I definitely knew that I favored the right side of my brain, which ultimately led me to major in photojournalism. Needless to say, being a doctor or a nurse never once crossed my mind. Never! However, I have many friends who have pursued a career in medicine, and nursing is Simmons' most popular major, so I met with Professor Anne-Marie Barron, Ph.D. to find out more.
Last semester, I wrote a post about the demands of the nursing program, which explained that the first 1 1/2 years is spent fulfilling science requirements. So, if you want to be a nurse, you definitely need a passion for science. But, there's more to it than that. Professor Barron summed it up nicely when she explained that nurses focus on the human experience of health and illness. They're educated with a breadth of perspective and unlike physicians assistants, nurse practitioners have autonomy - which means they can have independent practices.
After explaining all the different types of nurses, doctors, etc. (thanks, by the way!), Professor Barron listed the top three reasons why Simmons' nursing program is actually, pretty amazing:
1. There is a 95% pass rate on the NCLEX exam. The NCLEX is the test you take at the end of the program to become a registered nurse. Professor Barron said a school must maintain an 80% pass rate and the national average is 80-85%. I think it's safe to say we're doing something right!
2. Clinical training starts the second semester of sophomore year. This is a big deal. Typically, nursing students don't start their clinical until their junior year, but we like to give them a head start. Once those science requirements are out of the way, students move right in to their training. Another cool feature of the program is the small class size. The College fully supports a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio during clinical training.
3. The professors are practicing nurses. File this under things I never knew! Simmons allows the nursing faculty one day a week to practice in their field. For example, Professor Barron is a part-time psychiatric clinical nurse specialist at MGH. She says this is an important distinction for us because faculty members are able to keep current with the trends/research happening throughout the industry. Also, they're able to network directly with hospitals and agencies to make sure students have ample opportunities for clinical affiliations. Personally, I think it's so cool that students are being taught by actual, practicing nurses! Kind of makes me want to request that my nurse always be a Simmons grad. ;)
In listening to Professor Barron speak so passionately about nursing, I thought hey, maybe I could have chosen a different career path. After all, nurse practitioners are in pretty high demand these days, especially with Massachusetts' mandatory health care reform. But let's be real here. I STILL want nothing to do with trying to understand science. I'll leave that to the left-brainers.