May 6 kicked off National Nurses Week, an annual event highlighting the important role that nurses play in society. In celebration of National Nurses Day and the start of Nurses Week, University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) President Dr. Divina Grossman was live on “Good Morning San Diego” discussing the rewarding career of nursing and the critical need for nurses. Dr. Grossman started her career as a nurse and served as a long-time nurse educator prior to becoming a leader in higher education and being appointed president and chief academic officer at USAHS.
While the first National Nurses Week was celebrated in 1954 – the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s famous mission to the Crimea – it wasn’t until President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation in 1982 that May 6 would henceforth be National Nurses Day so that the annual celebration of nurses’ efforts would be nationally recognized. This year’s theme from the American Nurses Association is “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.”
As Dr. Grossman mentioned in the news interview, there is a critical shortage of nurses in the United States, and health sciences institutions like USAHS are ramping up to address the needs of communities.
“As experienced nurses begin to retire, there aren’t enough new graduates to replenish the vital nurse workforce in the United States,” Dr. Grossman said. “As the older generation of Americans age, they also require more care. Baby boomers will be surging into Medicare, and we know that people over the age of 65 have multiple chronic conditions that will increase both the demand for nurses and the complexity and intensity of care required.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2014-2024, Registered Nursing (RN) is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2024. The RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.7 million in 2014 to 3.2 million in 2024, an increase of 439,300 or 16%. The Bureau also projects the need for 649,100 replacement nurses in the workforce, bringing the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.09 million by 2024.
“Nurses are the backbone of our health care system and vital to improving it,” said USAHS Nursing Program Director Dr. Robin Dennison. “At some point in our lives, everyone is going to rely on care from a nurse. Nurses focus on maintaining health and managing symptoms of acute and chronic illnesses.”
Nursing is an extremely rewarding career with a variety of options to pursue, Dr. Dennison added. “Not only does a career in nursing provide a stable career with good pay, the upward mobility available continues to expand for nurses. The demand for nurses of all educational levels is strong, but especially those with an advanced degree or specialized credentials,” she said.
USAHS offers several practice-based and career-focused graduate nursing programs to help nurses advance in their careers as a nurse educator, nurse executive, nurse informaticist, or family nurse practitioner. Graduate degree programs include the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). To learn more, visit the College of Nursing website.