Monday, December 19, 2011

An Education (In Nursing)

I decided on nursing after I realized that my first degree would not land me a job that I’d even remotely enjoy. However, I gained invaluable research and analytical skills that have served me well, and continue to do so, in my nursing career. I enrolled in an accelerated nursing program in which I could skip some electives and concentrate on core nursing courses. I bring this up because I recently finished preceptoring a nursing student and it was nothing short of a challenge. His lack of motivation was only matched by his creative excuses to justify his tardiness and absence from shifts. However, what really struck me was his absolute lack of research and math skills. I’m not talking about designing one’s own RCT in the midst of a code or solving a limit of a function as x approaches infinity but basic stuff like being able to look up the pathophysiology of DKA or calculating infusion rates by plugging values into an equation. When I brought up these concerns with him, he said that I was judging him unfairly because I was more educated when I started nursing. I was quite offended because even though I was aware of the economic factors that led to inflation, that knowledge did not really help me in figuring out how to manage someone in septic shock.

He did, however get me thinking about nursing education in general. I have worked with many students from the school that my student was enrolled at and they all mentioned that their school concentrated far too much on nursing theory and not enough on research and data interpretation skills. Based purely on anecdotal data collected during three night shifts, nurses who had another degree in the sciences were much more comfortable with gathering and interpreting data and understanding the biochemistry behind medications and disease processes. Sometimes I think that perhaps there should be a greater barrier to entry in the profession but I realize that the nursing shortage issue would be exacerbated. So nurses discuss – do you think that new grads are adequately prepared to face the job? What do you wish was taught more in school?