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Want to Become a Nurse? This is What You Need to Know Before Earning Your Nursing Degree.

by South University
October 15, 2018
A photo of a South University nursing student.

You're considering becoming a nurse. Maybe you have family members in the healthcare field, or you’ve been inspired by nurses who cared for you or your loved ones. Whatever your motivation, your nursing career will need to start with a nursing education. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is the degree recommended by industry leaders and strongly preferred by 86% of recently surveyed employers. This nursing bachelor’s degree can prepare you with a solid foundation on which to build your career.

Of course, before you commit to a degree or a career, you’re likely to have a few questions—and we have answers!

What are the benefits of a nursing career?

Employment Growth: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in 438,100 new nursing positions!

Employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in 438,100 new nursing positions!

That faster than average employment growth is driven in part by the aging of the large Baby Boomer generation and their increasing health care needs. On top of this, large numbers of nurses are expected to retire in the coming decade. Together, this means that nurses are in-demand. In some regions—particularly in the South and West—nurses are increasingly in short supply. By entering this profession, you can help fill that demand and care for those who need it.

Personal Fulfillment: Nursing can be a rewarding career. As a nurse, you can have a huge impact on your patients (emotionally and physically) as you care for and support them through their most difficult moments. And the more educated you are, the better you’ll know how to help. US News even ranks nursing #18 on their 100 Best Jobs list, based on factors like job market, future growth, salary, and work-life balance. Nurses can also expect to earn the respect of others; for 16 years straight, nurses have been voted the most honest and ethical professionals in an annual national Gallup Poll.

US News even ranks nursing #18 on their 100 Best Jobs list

What kind of person makes a good nurse?

Compassionate: Nurses need to demonstrate caring and empathy for patients through their bedside manner. Nurses must also stay emotionally strong and help patients and family members to manage their emotions in emergencies, stressful situations, and other trying times.

Good Communicators: Listening to patients is essential as a nurse. You must know how to ask the right questions and gain your patients trust so that you can understand their health and concerns. Likewise, a large part of nursing is educating patients, including explaining complicated medical information and instructions. Nurses also must communicate and collaborate with many fellow healthcare providers.

Organized: Nurses constantly balance multiple tasks and patients, so keeping everything in order is key to providing quality care. Close attention to detail is another professional quality nurses need, to ensure that proper medicine and treatments are given on schedule.

Problem-Solver: In many situations, nurses are called upon to think and act quickly. You’ll often be asked to assess changes in patients and decide when action or assistance is needed.

Hard Worker: Last but not least, hard work is another distinguishing characteristic of a great nurse. Nursing is rewarding but caring for others isn't easy. Nurses are on their feet most of the day, and, depending on where you work, nursing shifts can be long.

What are some major jobs that nurses do?

As we've mentioned, registered nurses (RNs) deliver and coordinate patient care as well as educate and support patients and their families. Most RNs work with a team of physicians and healthcare specialists and may also manage nursing assistants, aids, and licensed* practical nurses.

The jobs nurses do include:

  • Assessing and recording patient conditions and symptoms
  • Administering medicine and treatment
  • Operating and monitoring medical equipment
  • Assisting with diagnostic tests and analysis
  • Teaching patients how to manage injuries and illnesses

RNs can choose to focus on particular groups of patients, such as children or the elderly. Different types of nurses also specialize in certain health issues, such as cardiovascular nurses, who care patients who have heart surgery or heart disease.

What is a typical career path for a nurse?

After earning your nursing degree, the next step will be to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and meet your state requirements for licensing*. From there, how your nursing career progresses is up to you. You’ll have the chance to work in a variety of in-demand specialties, and over time you can advance into more senior nursing positions.

Some nurses earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) so that they can provide higher quality care and work more independently. MSN programs can offer specializations such as family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nursing informatics, to name just a few. After you have an MSN, you can also gain skills in new specializations with post graduate certificate programs. You can even pursue a doctorate in nursing (a Doctor of Nursing Practice or a PhD in Nursing) to increase your leadership, teaching, clinical, and/or research skills. The trajectory of your nursing career all depends on your interests and goals!

Ready to discuss BSN programs and applying to nursing school?

At South University, our nursing programs are led by experienced** nurses and are built to make you a confident, caring health care professional. Contact our admissions team at 1.800.688.0932 or request information online today.

*South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

**Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.

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Columbia BSN Students and Faculty Publish Article Offering Advice on Nurse Bullying

by South University
July 9, 2018
A photo of two South University nursing students

While bullying in any workplace is a concern, bullying in healthcare settings can be a serious issue with the potential to impact patient care and inhibit teamwork and communication among nurses. Earlier this year, a group of South University, Columbia instructors and Bachelor of Science in Nursing students published an article in the April 2018 Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services focusing on the bullying of student nurses in clinicals.

The authors of the article include:

  • Sandra Renee Henley, PhD,MSN, RN, Assistant Professor, South University, Columbia
  • Carlos Paxtor, BSN student
  • Rodriques Perry, BSN student
  • Hillary Wren, BSN student
  • Kimberly Samuel-White, BSN student
  • Brittany Roseborough, BSN student
  • Nautika Wills-Smith, BSN Program Graduate, RN
  • Carolyn Horner, Ed.D, Assistant Program Director, General Studies

Entitled "An Opinion on Mistreatment Faced by Student Nurses During Clinical," the piece explains how bullying imposed on new nurses as an initiation to the profession—an act described in the phrase "nurses eat their young"—can lower the ability and desire of student nurses to learn as well as compromise the care received by patients. The article also offers advice for those involved and affected by nurse bullying.

Advice for Student Nurses

If bullying occurs during clinicals, student nurses should directly confront staff nurses, the authors assert. While this can be a difficult conversation to have, it is important to remain calm and base the discussion in logic and in a shared desire to provide quality care for patients. Addressing and resolving the issue, can allow you, as a student nurse, to better focus on your patients and increase your learning throughout your clinical rotations.

The authors also suggest that students notify their clinical instructors of any bullying or mistreatment, so that the clinical instructor can offer guidance and help to resolve the situation.

Advice for Staff Nurses & Clinical Instructors

Look to be part of the solution by being a good example and role model in the workplace. The responsibility of preventing bullying and improving patient care and student learning is a shared one. Identify and assess your own patterns of behavior as well as those of your colleagues, and be sure that you are helping to create an environment that encourages learning, teamwork, and communication among everyone. Ultimately, this will result in better prepared nurses and better treatment of the patients in your facility.

Moving Forward Together

Clinical rotations are a time for student nurses to discover their potential to improve patients' lives and for them to build a foundation of knowledge and experience upon which their careers will grow. It is because of the critical importance of the clinical experience that student nurses must address and overcome any obstacles—bullying and otherwise—to patient care, learning, and teamwork, while the rest of the nursing and healthcare field should work to support student nurses and prevent them from encountering unnecessary roadblocks as they begin their journey in healthcare.

View the full text of the article to learn more and educate yourself on the topic of nursing bullying.

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Richmond Nursing Students Receive Recognition & Praise

by South University
June 8, 2018
A photo of South University, Richmond nursing students Corina Nuckols and Amy Rankin.

Being a nurse can mean long days and hard work, but the personal reward of caring for others is immense. Recognition for that work can make being in this profession even more rewarding.

At South University, Richmond, the efforts and caring of our students and graduates is exceptional, and recently both their patients and members of the current healthcare community have been taking notice.

For example, this May, pending Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduate Amy Rankin of South University, Richmond was selected for a DAISY Award, an award selected by patients to honor extraordinary nursing care.

Another pending BSN graduate, Morgan Woody, went above and beyond at her preceptor side. Her preceptor, Aimee Morris, shared with us the following:

"Morgan helped the patients back to their rooms, placed them back on monitors, and rounded on every single patient. She didn't even need to be asked to help, she just did it. She stepped up with confidence and helped us out tremendously! She is a huge help every day that she is here, but today she is definitely a rock star! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist her in her clinicals. She will make an excellent nurse!"

A third pending BSN graduate Corina Nuckols has already secured a position after graduation and her future employer Cynthia Newsome wrote to her to say:

"Trish was just blown away by you on Saturday. She came back here to the offices and shared with Karen and myself what an amazing clinician you are! She was just amazed that you were pretty much taking care of the patients with minimal assistance. I just wanted to share this with you so you know that, no matter how difficult these last weeks are, this is your Calling and you are going to be AMAZING!"

We are so proud of these BSN students for receiving such praise and for all of our dedicated, passionate student nurses who have so much to offer the Richmond community and beyond.

Considering starting or growing your nursing career? Explore our nursing programs today.

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A Nurse and Healthcare Professional’s Guide to Better Sleep

by South University
March 9, 2018
A photo of a nursing holding a sign that says sleep well.

From March 11 to 17, 2018, the National Sleep Foundation is celebrating Sleep Awareness Week, highlighting how good sleep habits help individuals perform their best. Yet, at South University--where over 65% of our students are in nursing and other health professions--we see firsthand how getting quality sleep is particularly difficult for many healthcare professionals. In this field, professionals regularly work nights and long, demanding shifts that make getting a normal night’s sleep challenging, even throwing off the body’s natural rhythms.

As a healthcare professional, you provide essential services to patients who count on you to be alert and at your best. Fatigue is a serious issue in healthcare and can lead to a decline in your own health and an increased risk of errors in your patient care work. So what can you do when you’re working odd or long hours and find yourself struggling to sleep? Below are tips that can help you sleep better, so that you’ll be healthy and ready for the day ahead.

1. Create a wind down ritual and sleep schedule.

Begin to relax at least an hour before going to sleep, and keep a consistent sleep and wake schedule, even when you’re not working. During that hour, avoid your tv or phone as the bright light can stimulate your brain. If you want to read, choose something relaxing that you’ll be able to set aside at bedtime.

A pre-bedtime routine can also be beneficial. Ease any tension with a warm bath or shower, and treat yourself to soothing lavender scents or calming essential oils. Then, clean your face, brush your teeth, and play relaxing music or white noise to signal to your brain that it’s time for sleep. If you’re often anxious at bedtime, keep a notepad nearby where you can jot down thoughts and reminders and consider learning a relaxation technique to help you fall asleep.

2. Improve your sleeping environment.

For starters, use your bedroom for sleeping only, keeping it clean of clutter and anything that might stress you out. You should also minimize light and noise. Light tells your brain to wake up; darkness does the opposite. Invest in room darkening curtains, cover illuminated clocks, and consider an eye mask.

Set your phone to alarm-only mode, leaving it upside down to damper any light it emits. If you worry about waking up on time, set multiple alarms to ease your concerns. If you live on a noisy street, use ear plugs if you can still hear your alarm, or try a white noise machine or a sleep sound smartphone app. Finally, lower your thermostat before bedtime; the best temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees.

3. Ask others to respect your schedule.

Get your friends and family on board with the importance of your sleep. If you have children, explain why you sleep when you do and ask that they only disturb you in an emergency. Request that your housemates avoid loud noisy activities or use headphones while you’re sleeping, and place a Do Not Disturb sign on your door to avoid being wakened by the doorbell.

4. Follow a healthy diet & exercise routine during waking hours.

Regular exercise can lower your stress levels and improve your sleep, so aim for at least 20 minutes of daily aerobic exercise, ideally before your shift. Working out within a few hours of your bedtime can lead to trouble falling asleep. Don’t indulge on a huge meal before sleeping, but also avoid an empty stomach. Either one could wake you up in the middle of your sleep cycle. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can also all disrupt your sleep, so avoid these items in the hours before you sleep. (See more of our tips for staying healthy here.)

Are you working in nursing or another healthcare profession? How do you balance your schedule so that you get the sleep you need? Join the conversation and share your advice with the South University community on Facebook.

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Meet Our Austin MSN-FNP Program Director: Jeanne Hopple

by South University
February 16, 2018
A photo of Jean Hopple.

"I became involved in nursing because of a desire to help others and improve their wellbeing," explains Dr. Jeanne Hopple, a nurse practitioner with 41 years of nursing experience who today serves as the Program Director for the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner Program at South University, Austin.

Acquiring Experience across the Nursing Field

Helping people, Hopple says, has always been her passion. As a young woman, she enjoyed volunteering as a candy striper in a local hospital, and, when her sister became a nurse, Hopple decided to follow in her footsteps.

After earning her BSN in 1977, Hopple began working as an RN in a Florida hospital. Over time, she explored numerous specialties, working in neurology, medical intensive care, critical care, and medical progressive care as well as spending time as a Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse Specialist. She was particularly drawn to palliative care for older adults and doing her part to makes their lives a little better.

Before long, Hopple was educating other nurses as well. "I always enjoyed being the clinical preceptor or being in charge of orientation for new nurses," she says. "For a while, I wound up teaching critical care, bringing in my mannequin and crash cart, checking to see how the nurses answered codes and handled rapid response drills. I discovered a love for teaching."

To develop her skills across these diverse areas, Hopple earned her MSN specializing in adult health nurse practitioner and cardiovascular clinical nursing and minoring in nursing education. Equipped with this degree, Hopple spent the next decade working mostly in cardiology as a nurse practitioner across medical centers, physicians' offices, hospitals, and nursing homes. In 2002, she accepted her first position teaching nursing at a university where she also worked as a nurse practitioner with student health services.

Soon, however, Hopple became interested in providing care across the lifespan, not just for adults. She returned to school again, first for a post master's family nurse practitioner certificate and then for a PhD in Nursing Science. While in school, Hopple held various nurse practitioner roles in acute care, nephrology, women's health, and family care while also teaching and serving as a clinical preceptor.

Bringing Nursing Expertise into the Classroom

After finishing her PhD in 2011, Hopple began shifting more of her time to teaching (first in Florida and then in Tennessee), while still maintaining her clinical skills in part-time nurse practitioner roles. In 2014, she joined the South University family, moving to Georgia to teach in our nursing programs in Savannah. While there, she worked first at a federally qualified health care center and then with a VA clinic doing intake assessments for veterans coming out of active duty.

In 2017, Hopple relocated again—this time to become the director of our MSN-FNP program in Austin. She also teaches in the program, including the course that introduces new students to the nurse practitioner profession. "This is broadening way out from the RN role," she says. "From day one, you’re learning a whole new role. You’re building on your RN knowledge and it’s going to help you, but now you’re going to be the advanced care provider for people with all types of health needs, from infants to elderly."

To prepare students for this transition, Hopple shares many of her own experiences from family medicine. She also makes sure her students understand the academic resources available to them and brings in the campus librarian to teach research and writing skills as well as review the library services. Being in Austin, she even arranged for her students to attend the Health Care Policy & Leadership Conference for Texas Nurse Practitioners last year at the Capitol building.

"The personal connection is what I love about South University. I can pick up the phone and call my students. They know me, I know them," she says. "If they're struggling, I can ask what's going on and whether there's anything I can help with or that they want to talk about. Sometimes it's a family or health or personal issue. Life happens. They know my door is open. We’re here. We care about them. We want to take you forward, to make a difference in your life."

Interested in learning more about the nursing programs and faculty at South University? Explore our College of Nursing and Public Health today!

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