Nurse business person. Nurse anesthetist. Parish nurse. Day care community nurse. Nurse instructor. Nurses are consultants to insurance companies and law firms; they write grant applications for not-for-profit organizations; they organize storefront clinics in big cities; they have their own nursing practices in towns too small to have a physician.
And, of course, they are very much in demand for traditional hospital and clinic nursing positionsa demand that is expected to increase in future years.
Graduates of The University of Iowas College of Nursing have a whole range of career fields open to them outside the traditional hospital/clinic nursing positions. Its a great time to be a nursing graduate, if you arent bewildered by the number of choices.
Nationwide, the need for nurses is expected to grow from 2.1 million to 2.5 million by 2008, the Des Moines Sunday Register reported in February. The average age of working registered nurses was 41.9 in 1998, projected to grow to 45.4 in 2010. More than 35 percent of registered nurses are 40-49 years old.
Parent Times spoke to nurses who have found career fields that didnt exist 20 years ago.
Become an Entrepreneur
Ann Riley, B.S.N., M.A., is executive director of Handicare, an Early Intervention Inclusive Child Development program for infants through 12 years of age.
"Nursing is no longer just the specialized tasks needed to provide medical care," Riley says. "Todays health care system is emphasizing community interventions and the use of cost-effective methods. Often nurses are the key to success in providing quality interventions, teaching, training, and promoting the use of natural supports within a patients individual situation.
"The number of opportunities available to become an entrepreneur and touch the lives of many is limited only by your imagination," she says.
Nurses are trained to think holistically, seeing an individual not as an individual with an illness or disease but rather as a person who may need short- or long-term assistance. The assistance may enable people to regain strength or control of their lives, readjust their expectations, learn new tasks, make adaptations, or find resources to maintain or achieve independence.
"I have chosen to work with children who have developmental disabilities and special health care needs," she says. "Technology has become so advanced that babies born as young as 21 weeks, weighing less than two ounces, are surviving. Some of these children will need early intervention services to help them reach maximum potential."
Parents want children to attend neighborhood childcare and school programs, so Rileys program provides nurses to consult with childcare workers and teach them how to provide adaptations or special treatments to children who need early intervention child care. Parents also use Handicares services to provide service coordination and information on the resources that will help them meet their childs special needs, she says.
"My work in the community is fascinating," she says. "No two days are ever the same. It is very rewarding to teach and help others to become independent, and at the same time to work with regulatory and policy groups to help them create and change the system of supports available to families and children."
Teach a New Generation of Nurses
Susan Power is an instructor for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
"I had no idea,
when I graduated, that I would love teaching so much," Power says.
"I teach an undergraduate practicum, Complex Concepts in Nursing
Care. I love nursing and Im proud of the profession. To have an
opportunity to pass that on to others is wonderful. To see my students
progress, even week-to-week, is wonderful, too."
"Every time I was there with them I felt so much a part of it. I decided I needed to find a career in a hospital. When I went back to the University to get my nursing degree, I stayed on as a flight attendant. Not only that, I had a newborn child! She was just a few months old when I started. I really had to juggle schedules. Now I juggle my teaching schedule and the time I spend as a staff nurse in the hospital. Actually, it has worked pretty well so far."
A degree in nursing gives graduates many choices, she says.
"Everyone thinks of nurses in a hospital setting, but there are many opportunities outside the hospital. One woman I know works for a law firm, reviewing cases that are going to trial. Others are consultants for insurance companies. Even within the hospital, you may choose to be a supervisor, working with schedules and budgets instead of patients."
Combine Nursing with Ministry
Ruth Blayer is a parish nurse at First United Methodist Church, Iowa City.
The concept of parish nursing originated in 1985, so the field is still new, Blayer says.
"You come to parish nursing through church involvement," she says. "Its a ministry position, blending community nursing, a caring ministry, and work as part of the churchs pastoral care team."
A registered nurse, she earned a B.S.N. degree from Iowa Wesleyan College and an M.A. in nursing from Iowa, as well as specific parish nurse training and Health Ministry Clinical Pastoral Education.
Blayer was persuaded to take the training in 1992 by a minister in her church. She enrolled although she wasnt really serious about the field, she says.
"Once I got into it, I found it was a good match for me," she says. "Parish nurses combine nursing expertise with understanding of their patients spiritual concerns and build a good rapport with them."
Parish nurses can help families plan for hospital discharge, counsel in grief and bereavement situations, train volunteers to assist families in crisis, refer people to community resources, organize health screenings and fairs or wellness activities, and visit people in homes, nursing homes, or assisted care facilities.
Blayer teaches regularly in adult Sunday school and the churchs small group ministry, makes sure that the churchs library contains health-related information and books, and is active in community health matters through the Johnson County Care Management Program. The program coordinates resources to help the elderly stay in their homes and a Hospice pastoral care task force.
She also acts as a preceptor for undergraduate nursing students doing their community health rotation, who work 120 hours under her guidance.
Shell lead communion services in nursing homes, accompanies people when they go to their doctors, "and I make a lot of phone calls," she says.
"I have a passion for integrating faith and health. I love to be able to help people with struggles of faith and to support them to find themselves through spiritual growth and coping skills. Thats a lot of what our faith ministry is."
Become a Nurse Anesthetist
Michael Tennier, a graduate student in the Universitys nurse anesthetist program, is about 21 months away from a masters degree.
"Anesthesiology requires a medical degree," he says. "I realized that if I graduate as a nurse anesthetist, I can do 80 to 90 percent of the work of an anesthesiologist with my masters degree. I can work with as much autonomy but it will take much less time than it would to get an M.D."
That appealed to Tennier, since he has two young children.
The training involves nine months of classroom learning, followed by 21 months of work in operating rooms. He came to Iowa because the College of Nursing has a national reputation.
"The Nurse Anesthesia Program just received a 10-year renewal of its accreditation this year," he says. "Its unusual to be renewed for that long a period."
When he graduates, hed like to try an urban setting first and then move to a rural practice center, he says.
His advice to students thinking about a nursing specialty area would be to shadow a practitioner to learn what day-to-day life in the field would be.
"Also, dont be afraid to try something for a few years and then change course if you want," he says. "I definitely think that my earlier degree in bacteriology was beneficial and will help me wherever I wind up."
For more information on careers in nursing and Iowas College of Nursing, contact the Student Services Office, 30D Nursing Building, 319-335-7015.
By Anne Tanner