As we begin this new academic year, it is easy to fall into the trap of being discouraged about our profession. Every time one opens the newspaper there are accounts of acute nursing shortages, stories about nurses leaving nursing, and the difficulties we have in recruiting students to our programs. As nurse educators, we know that our students look to us for reassurance that they have made the correct career choice. It is essential that our own confidence in the future of our profession be communicated to our students with realistic enthusiasm.
Nursing education has a great deal for which to be proud. We have long provided a career ladder to allow for upward mobility and have refined the manner in which we offer our practitioners the opportunity to advance professionally through educational preparation. We have long followed sound educational practices by providing concurrent practice and theory in our educational programs. We have become increasingly flexible and innovative in planning programs to meet the special needs of students with either family responsibilities or economic needs or often both. As nurse educators, we have become increasingly aware and sympathetic to the goals of persons desirous of upward mobility through education, and of the social and economic problems that have inhibited some from achieving their goals. We have made tremendous strides in just a few decades toward delineating nursing's specialized knowledge base through research. We have an enviable record for retaining the students we attract to our nursing programs.
Of most importance, nurse educators have prepared their students to be versatile health providers who not only have excellent clinical judgment but also have exceptional organizational abilities. The statement, made by some employers of nurses, that nurse educators are to be blamed for the current nursing shortage because of the upgrading of educational requirements and the attempt to standardize education is false. The major reason for the current shortage is the increased demand for nurses who have the needed breadth of clinical knowledge and skills to meet the changes in health care. Tb quote the immediate past president of the American Nurses Association, Dr. Margretta Styles, "If anything, we are the victims of success, having produced a service much needed, although substantially underpriced."
Yes, as all professionals do, we have unsolved issues in nursing. But the important thing is that we are facing them with honesty, and each year brings us closer to a resolution that will find a satisfactory solution for both nurses and those who, increasingly, will require our services.
Let's all resolve to emphasize the positive this year. Hope is the feeling of confidence that good will occur and the expectation that admirable things can be achieved. Let's believe that and instill that belief in our students.