Today, employment opportunities in the field are varied and growing, proving there’s never been a better time to join the profession. Perhaps that’s why the LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing is represented by a wide variety of students, from recent high school graduates to mid- and late-stage career changers.
In 2019, students at the School of Nursing ranged from 19 to 72 years old, according to Souad Salloum, Nurse Recruiter in the school’s Office of Student Services. “Many of our students come from completely different career backgrounds,” she says. “One nursing student was a hairdresser for 15 years, and when asked why she chose to become a nurse, she said, ‘I have been taking care of people from the outside for the last 15 years, now it is time for me to take care of them from the inside by taking care of their health.’”
Something for Everyone
Perhaps one of the reasons for nursing’s popularity as a career choice is that it offers myriad career paths that suit different skill sets.
“You can work directly with patients and provide care at hospitals, military bases, nursing homes, travel nursing, schools, private clinics and much more,” Salloum explains. “You can be behind the scenes improving patient health care delivery through research at health centers, universities or with government health agencies. As a nurse, you can also educate new nurses at a hospital or join academia as a nursing faculty member teaching future nurses.”
Kendra Barrier, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, Assistant Dean for Student Services and Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing, is an excellent example of the varied paths nursing can take.
“We are a leader in education, research and scholarship with strategic initiatives to transform nursing and health care.”
Kendra Barrier, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE
“I always wanted to be a nurse because I love caring for people. Although I am not a bedside nurse anymore, I now care for nursing students and colleagues,” she says. “My nursing skill focus has changed to be a great listener, a coach, a mentor, a tutor and a great resource to over 1,000 students. For me, nursing has been a great fit!”
The Right Nursing Education at the Right Time
To support the need for more nurses, the School of Nursing carefully crafts and follows a strategic plan that aligns mission and vision with goals and objectives. Of particular importance is delivering an educational experience that is attractive to a diverse audience of students and that effectively equips graduates to excel in the field.
At the School of Nursing, students can choose from a range of generalist or advance practice nursing programs, depending upon their career goals. Generalist programs at the school include BSN, RN-BSN, Career Alternative RN Education (CARE) and Early Admission RN (EARN) programs. Advanced practice programs include Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthesia, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Leader and Public/Community Health Nursing.
“As a school, we are uniquely positioned to educate a diverse population of students of all ages and experiences,” Dr. Barrier explains. “We are a leader in education, research and scholarship with strategic initiatives to transform nursing and health care.”
One of those initiatives on the horizon is a holistic admission process. “When implemented, this process will allow us to review an applicant’s experiences and attributes as part of the process for accepting an applicant as a student,” she says.
Encouraging Future Nurses
Students who come to the School of Nursing often do so because they heed a calling inspired by examples of other nurses.
“It is fascinating to see individuals from different stages of life want to go into nursing,” Salloum says. “Some prospective students say they want to be a nurse after witnessing the enormous work nurses do in taking care of a loved one. Others get inspired by having a member in their family who is a nurse, and they see the impact nurses make in their communities.”
Once these students are on campus, the faculty and staff then help them find and define their career path.
“As recruiters, administrators and faculty in nursing, we play a major role in making sure that these individuals are aware of what nurses do and the opportunities within this profession,” says Salloum. “Once we introduce them to nursing skills and the different career routes, it’s exciting to see how their individual career horizons open up.”