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Nurse Academy History

Nurse Academy participants Nurse Academy participants Nurse Academy participants

The vision for Nurse Academy came after a brainstorming session in our Recruitment and Retention Committee on ways we could help end the nursing shortage.  The national nursing shortage is scheduled to peak in the year 2020 with an estimated shortage of 800,000 nurses by the year 2010.  This nursing shortage has many causes.  Fifty years ago, women were encouraged to become either a nurse or a teacher.  By 1980, women had many more career opportunities, and fewer women went into nursing.   Nurse salaries caused many to choose other career fields. 

Few minorities, and even fewer men went into nursing.  The average age of a nurse then was 30 years old compared to the average age of 45 years for a nurse today.  Our nursing workforce continues to grow older, and there is a need to attract those starting their careers to nursing.

That is the founding idea behind Nurse Academy.  The goal is to show high school students how rewarding and exciting nursing can be for them.  We want to reach students when they are still forming their high school or college GPA, and deciding on a career path.  We want students to know that nursing holds so many options in chosen specialties, shifts, portability, and career mobility.  We want them to know that they need to work hard in high school to get into a nursing program, and that there are many college programs for nursing.  Lastly, we want them to know that nursing has changed for the better in many ways, including salary.

We began to imagine a setting where high school students could come and both learn about what it is that nurses do, and also see nurses in action.  We initially thought of a week of “nurse camp”, but soon pared that down to two very full days.  For content, we thought about some of our best nurses, and then asked them to speak to this group of high school students.  We also wanted some “hands on” nursing experience for these students, so a skills lab was set up utilizing our specialty nurses.  Our nursing education department taught CPR to the students, our IV Team taught them how to start an IV, our OR nurses taught them how to suture and use a cautery, our rapid response team showed them a code cart and defibrillator and took an EKG tracing of their heart, and some of our staff nurses taught them how to use their new stethoscopes.

In between this skills lab and lectures, we organized tours of the hospital including trauma services, the newborn nursery, some of the ICUs, our new Heart Hospital, medical/surgical units, and the operating room.  It was a dream tour that we all would have wanted to have in nursing school.  Tour teams were lead by one nurse leader, and had 2 staff nurses with each team of 6 - 8 high school students.

Most importantly, we partnered with the University of Kansas School of Nursing, and made that a part of the lectures and tours.  The techniques instruction was done in the School of Nursing’s skills lab.

To end the Nurse Academy, we wanted the students to be able to show their parents what they had learned.  We organized a closing ceremony and asked the students to invite parents or friends.  We gave prizes, certificates, and showed a video of the 2 day academy which was then mailed to each student.  Each of the students received a self portrait in a lab coat and stethoscope.   The audience was filled with parents, grandparents, and other high school students.  We had cake and punch and a time to socialize and meet parents one on one.  It was really hard to see the students leave. 

Overall, Nurse Academy was a tremendous success.  Comments from students included

  • “I learned more about what it will take to be a nurse and what I should focus on in school to have a career in the medical field.”
  • “I learned more about the responsibilities of a nurse and how much fun it can be.”
  • “I’ve gained a greater knowledge of the overall job of nurses.”
  • “I learned that there are a lot of different areas in nursing.  You can take so many different avenues.  You can always do something different.”

Because of the excitement and drive the students demonstrated after the first Nurse Academy, we made a commitment to continue to share our passion for the profession of nursing through an annual Nurse Academy. 

Nurse Academy Demographics

Total Participants 24 24 32 23 25 25 57 59 59 44 372
Boys 3 2 2 1 3 1 7 4 2 5 30
Girls 21 22 30 22 22 24 50 55 57 39 342
College Freshman 0 1 6 2 2 1 15 18 15 4 64
Seniors 4 8 5 7 12 14 23 25 31 10 139
Juniors 3 9 6 13 5 5 10 17 13 25 106
Sophomores 8 5 8 0 3 4 2 0 0 5 35
Freshman 8 1 7 0 0 1 7 0 0 0 24
*8th Grade 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 5

Students are from area high schools and colleges in Kansas and Missouri. We have even had students all the way from Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, and Oregon participate in the program.

* In the past, 8th grade students had been accepted into the program with the understanding that high school/college students get the first priority. Due to the increased interest in the program, the entry grade requirements have changed.

Last modified: Jul 26, 2018
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The Nurse Academy Application for 2021 is now available.

Please complete the application and submit all your application materials by Friday April 12, 2021.

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Nurse Academy Coordinators
Professional Development Council