Financial Aid for Student Nurses

Amid diminishing job prospects in many areas, what stands as a notable exception is the growing demand for qualified nurses in United States. This comes at a time when there already is a shortage of capable nursing educators. Therefore, while demand for nursing personnel burgeons, it is also becoming difficult to get into nursing programs.

In fact, many nursing institutes have fairly long waiting lists of aspiring students. Given the situation above, many hospitals in United States have come forward to offer financial aid of different types so that more and more students feel encouraged to enroll for nursing programs.

Even educational institutes are not lagging behind to extend financial aid to meet the crisis of shortage that is currently plaguing the healthcare sector. Despite comparatively easy availability of financial aid for nursing courses, it is always advisable to explore different avenues before deciding to opt for the most ideal one.

Funding nursing education is not a one-step process irrespective of whether you want to study a bachelor program or an advanced degree. Selecting the right financial aid calls for diligence and ability to piece together disparate information from several sources in order to find out the best deal. As you will see, while some financial aids cover part of your educational costs, there are others that cover entire educational costs albeit with strings attached.

While at it, it is important to bear in mind that financial aids are not always reserved for the most needy and/or those with fairly high grades. Often there is a pie to meet your individual need, and the same holds true for others. The nursing shortage has opened a lot of creative ways to avail financial aid to fund your education as well as new paths to complete your education in an orderly manner.

Okay, you want to start now! But wait. Remember when you search for financial aid, you may be waylaid by lucrative propositions. Not all of them are real. In fact, there are any number of frauds and scams in the financial aid business.

The Federal Trade Commission has lined up a list of tips for students to assist you in this regard. Ensure that you read these tips carefully and refer to them often. Apply for FAFSA Even as you approach the financial aid office of your chosen institution, it will be a good idea to first fill out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

You may either access FAFSA online or get a copy from your institute’s financial aid office. FAFSA application needs to be completed each year within stipulated deadlines. After submitting FAFSA application, you may be able to check its status online and make corrections as necessary.

Visit ANA Web Site Your quest for the ideal financial aid to fund your study should next include a visit to the American Nurses Association (ANA) web site. Once here, you will be exposed to a treasure of rich information to which you gain access to know about financial aid offered by ANA.

Proceed to the State Boards of Nursing and begin exploring if there are additional offers from your home state as well as the state where your institute is located, if different from home state.

Do not forget to obtain contact information and respective web site addresses for professional nursing organizations from the ANA site. For example, if you want to enroll for emergency nursing, you should access the Emergency Nurses Association web site to find if financial aids are available.

Doesn’t Your Institute Offer Financial Aid? Do not fail to find out if your college or university has financial aid available to nursing students. It may as well be that your institute’s financial aid serves your need better than others. Obtain this information from your college’s financial aid office, or the nursing department.

NHSC Program An alternative to traditional financial aid is the popular program for family nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives offered by the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).

This government program encourages graduates to work in under-served areas of the country. In exchange for financial aid like tuition, fees, and maintenance allowance, one year of employment is required for each year of funding.

Copyright 2006 Linda Raye

Are You Ready For Nursing School?

“Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into nursing school.” reads the first line on your acceptance letter. You grab your phone and start calling everyone to share the great news as you tuck away the rest of the information packet on a shelf, figuring you’ll worry about it closer to the start of school.
Don’t wait. Read all the information ASAP and get started right away. There are things you may need, like immunizations, that may take months to complete. Below is a typical checklist of prerequisites for nursing school with tips and links to help prepare you for school.Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
CPR certification is a requirement for entry into all programs with clinicals. There are several types of CPR certifications such as: Adult CPR, Child/Infant CPR, First Aid, Blood Bourne Pathogens, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and CPR for Health Care Providers (usually recommended). Don’t sign up for one without checking with your school to find out exactly which type(s) they require. Courses will run about 5-8 hours and cost around $45-$80. Usually getting requirements done early is a great idea however, take this course between semesters. You don’t want to have to re certify your CPR just as your May finals begriming.The American Red Cross and The American Heart Association both hold classes and you can enter your zip code, on their web sites to find a class near you. You can also check your local hospital for classes. Hospital Sponsored CPR is less expensive and is usually good for 2 years. Note that the Red Cross Certification is good for one year while the Heart Association’s is good for two years.

Immunizations and Physical Exam
Make an appointment with your doctor right away and check with your school for any forms your MD needs to fill out. Immunizations common to most all schools are:

  • MMR-documented 2 dates given or positive titer (Do not get MMR if you are pregnant and do not become pregnant within 3 months after receiving the vaccine)
  • Hep B-documented 2 or 3 dose series, or have had 1st of 3 dose series (2nd dose in 30 days, 3rd in six months), or positive titer
  • Varicella-(Chicken pox) documented 2 dose, given 4-6 weeks apart, or positive titer
  • Td-documented booster within the past 10 years
  • Tuberculin Skin test (PPD)/Chest X-Ray-All nursing students are required to have a TB skin test every year. Students with a positive result are required to provide results of a recent chest X-ray.
  • Drug Screening – This is becoming more common as medical centers, where you may do clinicals, are requiring this of anyone providing care in their facility.

Uniforms

Many schools have distinct school uniforms for purchase in the school’s store, while others may say any white scrub-type top and bottom is acceptable with your student ID. Lab coats with your school’s patch sewn on the sleeve is common. If you can choose your own style, get scrubs with pockets. You may or may not use them however, they will be there if you need them. Check with your school on any shoe restrictions. All white, no laces (for cleaning purposes), no open backs, are some of the common restrictions. Stethoscopes and Accessory Items
You may have to buy a specific stethoscope, or they may issue you one and the cost will be included in your fees. There are nursing student starter kits sold by several companies. Your school may have contracted with one of the suppliers and have a custom kit issued to you with all the supplies you require for your program. Here are some typically helpful items for nursing students.

  • Watch-one with a second hand is a must. A watch that includes military time is very helpful if your clinical site works in military time.
  • Stethoscope-a double bell is good to have and may be required by your program.
  • Blood Pressure Cuff-not absolutely necessary if not required by your program but, it’s nice to have your own. These run about $20.
  • Medical Scissors-blunt tip scissors do come in handy.
  • Penlight-A must for checking pupils among other things.
  • 4-Color Pens-or at least 3 colors (Blue, Black & Red), depending on the colors your clinical site uses.
  • PDA-More and more, Personal Digital Assistants are becoming a requirement. Even if it’s not required, it’s HIGHLY recommended.

Liability Insurance
You will either purchase your own or your school will purchase a group policy and will include the cost into your fees. An individual policy price varies by state. The average cost of a year’s coverage is $30.

Background Checks
CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) and SORI (Sexual Offender Registry Information) background checks are required by many clinical sites. Most schools will process these check and include the cost in your fees. If you need to submit one to the school it shouldn’t cost more then $20.

Read your school’s entrance paperwork; including the fine print. I heard many stories of students being dismissed from programs for not having all their requirements in order. Read everything the school sends you and if you are unsure of anything, give the school a call and ask. Also, be aware of general school requirements such as, health insurance, registration and financial aid deadlines, signing up for online school user accounts, housing, meal plans, etc. Get it all organized and completed and you’ll be ready to start school.Have you done all the above and still have some time before school starts?
Would you like to know what else you can do to prepare yourself for school? Honestly, nursing is a very tough course. Reading over nursing material suited for beginning students will be of great benefit. You will have a chance to become familiar with nursing terms so they won’t seem so foreign when your professor discusses them in class. Student Nurse Journey (SNJourney.com) is the resource community for nursing students. The more time you can spend there the more prepared you’ll be for the work ahead.
Congratulations again! You are on your way to a challenging and rewarding career full of unlimited possibilities.

New Graduate Nursing Jobs – A Word of Encouragement and a Bit of Advice

“There are no jobs out there for us!” “I thought nursing was supposed to be such a sure thing for job-security, but I can’t get a job anywhere!” “All the positions are for experienced nurses only…how am I supposed to get any experience if no one will hire me?” “Nursing shortage? What nursing shortage? If there’s such a shortage, why aren’t there any jobs?”

This is a typical lament of the newly-graduated nurse, looking for his or her very first job out of school, at least in some parts of the country, and in some situations. I believe that some encouragement is needed, as well as some “sage advice.”

The job market, in some places, is very tight. While it is disheartening, we need to realize that this isn’t completely new. Nursing, as a profession, has been here before, to a degree. When I first began my career, nurses were being laid off, allied professions were being cut…this was over 2 decades ago now. New grads and both current and future nursing students: You’re caught in the middle of a really weird situation right now. Trust me…there is a nursing shortage! And it is going to get worse.

The problem seems to be that, like every other business around, hospitals are having to make the same gut-wrenching budget cuts as everyone else. It’s hitting so many areas of nursing right now…students, faculty, schools, hospitals…everyone is affected by the current economic situation. Hospitals, whether they’re short on nurses or not at the moment, are dealing with a cash-crisis. A brand new nurse, fresh out of school–no matter how many “A’s” you got in nursing school, no matter how many articles you’ve written above and beyond, no matter how many volunteer/student-work/extra-credit hours you’ve logged–a brand new nurse will take close to a full year to mentor and precept into an independent RN. They will spend tens of thousands of dollars on you, above and beyond the salary they pay you, just to get you to the place where you actually “earn” that salary. Don’t be offended…the hospital typically knows that you are a great investment! These just aren’t typical times right now.

You may not believe it right now, but most of the skills of nursing are learned after you get out of school! In school, you are learning the “science” of nursing, the “theory” of nursing. Upon graduation, you will learn how to apply that science and theory in the real world of nursing. Your clinical rotations were not the real world. Nursing requires judgment skills; judgment skills are the result of experience backed by the theory and science you learned in school. It just takes time.

OK, so…what can you do? First, recognize that you DO have options:

1. Realize that your first job is just that…it’s your first job. Few new grads, whether they’re nurses, lawyers, engineers, or architects, land their dream job right out of school. When you say that there are “no jobs anywhere” in your area, is it really NO jobs? Or have you limited yourself in any way by not considering jobs in, shall we call them, “less than desirable” specialties? I really disliked my first year of nursing! But you know what? It was only my first year. Once it was over, I was the “experienced RN” that hospitals were crying out for. I named all my future positions, where and when I wanted them. But that first year, in what amounted to a “glorified nursing home” was not what I had EVER imagined for myself. So…have you really looked everywhere?

2. I have read more than one nursing student posting comments online about how upset they were that there were “NO JOBS” out there, only to then read that she is a senior in nursing school or a brand new graduate nurse who wants to go on to become a nurse anesthetist, and to get into that program she has to have at least a year of ER or ICU experience…and “no one will hire me.” To such students and grads, may I tell you in the kindest way that if any hospital does hire you into their ER or ICU as a new grad, they are setting themselves…and very possibly you..up for a possible lawsuit because of the dire consequences your lack of experience and immature professional judgements may cause someone?

I worked 10 years of my career in critical care…ALL areas of critical care…and new grads simply do not have the knowledge, skill, or judgment abilities to work in these areas. Period. Want to become a Nurse Anesthetist? Then graduate nursing school, take whatever job you need to to get working as a nurse, so you can actually begin to function as a “real” nurse (not just a student nurse!) at the bedside, fulltime. Learn. Learn all you can in that first job. Be the best new nurse you can be.

Get the best peer reviews. Get the best reviews from your Unit Manager. Be the nurse the patients and their families write letters to the hospital directors about (good letters, of course)! Then, at the end of that year, go apply for a job in the ER. Go get a spot in the ICU. Believe me, when you’re in there, you’ll be starting all over again with the learning curve! But when you’re in, you’re in…now, remember what you did that first year in that first position? Do it again. At the end of that year, go apply for that slot in the Nurse Anesthetist program. Smile…you’ll have earned it, because you worked for it. Well worth it!

Again, few new graduates, whatever their profession, land their “dream job” fresh out of college. Most new grads expect to start, oh, somewhere near the bottom, and work their way up, gaining experience, wisdom, and leadership skills along the way that will be used in their futures. In nursing, we are fortunate…the bottom isn’t that far from the top. It doesn’t typically take more than a year of doing what you’d rather not be doing in order to shoot straight to where you do want to be. So just get started.

2. Let’s say you really have looked at every hospital, every nursing home, every assisted living center in your area, and there are NO jobs. You have a decision to make. I tell my own kids this all the time: you can either choose where you want to live, and then work at whatever you like best that is available there, or you can choose what you’d love to do, and then go wherever you have to in order to do it. It’s just that simple. With a career in nursing, If you wait long enough and are willing to do what it takes at first (probably not too long, but be ready for a year or so), you’ll probably be able to have BOTH.

Jobs ARE out there. Go where they are, get your feet wet and become the experienced, independent RN everyone’s looking for! Do what it takes! It’s WORTH IT!

Nursing Schools – A History

The first written history of nursing is contained in the Bible. The Talmud and other writings also mention tending to the ill. In the 5th century BC the Hippocratic Oath was born delineating physician responsibilities and ethics. However, it was far later that nursing became a profession and professional teaching and standards were established.

Starting with the first century AD, tending to the sick was the duty of women in religious orders. As a young child Saint Marcella was heavily influenced by Saint Athanasuis leading her to devote her life to works of Christian charity when widowed after only seven months of marriage. Her palatial home on the Aventine Hill was turned into a center for Christian fellowship and learning. It was during this time that she shared her knowledge of the scriptures and nursing with other noble ladies desiring to live a life of asceticism. For this she earned the title as the very first nurse educator.

This changed in northern Europe with the era of the Crusades during the years 1096 to 1291. Groups such as the Knights Hospitallers of St. John in Jerusalem took over nursing duties. For women, the caring of the infirm became the duty of prisoners or prostitutes. This dark age of nursing saw nurses degraded and tending to the ill or infirm became the most menial of tasks.

This trend was not altered until the middle of the 19th century when pastor Theodor Fliedner founded the Kaiserwerth School for Nursing in 1836 in Kaiserwerth, Germany. Until this point, nurses had little formal training in nursing skills. An offshoot of this school was the Lutheran Order of Deaconessess. In 1850, Florence Nightingale became a student at this institution and forever changed the face of nursing. She was responsible for turning nursing into a profession as she traveled the world sharing her knowledge. In essence, she became the first travel nurse. By the end of the 19th century other schools in Europe had been established to provide nurses training.

After founding the Kaiserwerth School, Theodor Fliedner, along with four deaconesses, traveled to the United States in 1849 to become involved in initiating the first training school in the US at the Pittsburgh Infirmary, later known as Passavant Hospital. They were influence by Florence Nightingale and her philosophy of nursing education; these principles of cleanliness, nurse/patient relationship, disease prevention, continuing education and medical teamwork are still the basis of modern nursing training.

Although states such as New York and Pennsylvania had some nursing teachers on their hospital staff, the Pittsburgh Infirmary became the start of formal nurses’ training in the United States. By 1873, three nursing schools had been established in the US based on the nursing philosophy of Florence Nightingale: these were Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City, NY, Connecticut Training School in New Haven, CT and Boston Training School in Boston, MA.

Florence Nightingale is credited with bringing respectability to the nursing profession, creating a formal nursing training program. One of her students designed her original nursing uniforms using a system of uniforms with differing bands and to denote skill levels. The uniforms were used by all of the student nurses in her school of nursing and were copied by other nursing schools and hospitals. They remained very much the same until the 20th century.

In the United States, the advent of the Civil War emphasized the need for nurses. Dorothea Dix was selected to be the Superintendent of female Nurses by the Union Army in 1861. She in turn recruited others to assist in the care of the wounded. One of these recruits, Clara Barton, went on to establish the American Red Cross.

The following years saw much advancement in nurses training. Dorothea Dix led the fight for improved health care for the mentally ill. The first college level nursing program was established at Columbia University in 1907 due to the efforts of Mary Adelaide Nutting and Isabel Robb.

In the 1980’s traditional white nursing uniforms gave way to uniform scrubs. Originally worn solely in the operating room in colors of green or blue, uniform scrubs found their way into all areas of hospital nursing and into doctor and dental offices. Companies such as Cherokee Scrubs and Dickies Scrubs expanded the unisex scrub into a uniform with figure flattering styles for all body shapes and a multitude of colors and prints. Different hospital units took to wearing designated colors to differentiate their work space. Prints became fun and many pediatric prints helped make a child’s hospital stay a little less imposing. By the 1990’s uniform scrubs had become very popular, as they were easier to work in. Although some nursing schools still opt for traditional nursing uniforms for its students, many now outfit their nurse trainees in uniforms scrubs, saving the traditional white dress and cap for their capping and graduation ceremonies.

Today, the nursing profession has reached new heights of respectability. With an abundance of nursing schools all over the world, care for the sick is not relegated to untrained workers in most modern countries, leading to better health care and better quality of life.