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The Affordable Care Act will finally launch on October 1st and an estimated 32 million new patients may have health insurance for the first time. With this dramatic increase, demand for nurses and other health care professionals will remain high in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Yet, despite a surge in demand, there’s also a surge in competition for nursing jobs, prompting many nursing graduates to seek an advanced degree.
Rhoda Preston-Flint worked as a Registered Nurse for more than 30 years. She credits her early success through college prep courses and caregiver programs before obtaining her nursing degree, and continuing education.
How long did you work as an RN?
“Over a 31-year career, I held nursing positions at Watsonville Hospital, Cypress Surgery Center in Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley Surgery Center in Los Gatos.”
What advice can you give to people interested in entering a career in nursing?
“I would first ask the following questions: Are you a “people person” with excellent communication skills? Do you like studying science and learning new technologies? How do you manage stress? Would you enjoy working with and providing hands-on care for a variety of people? If the answer is yes to these questions, then I would encourage people to explore and research different types of nursing programs available to them. Of course, talking to lots of RNs employed in different settings is always ideal.”
What type of education is necessary for a career in nursing?
“An education in nursing is first an ability to succeed in a college environment. I was very lucky that my high school had a program called H.O.P.E. It offered me the opportunity to take more science and health classes. During my senior year, I was able to attend a college-level organic chemistry class. Though I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a nurse yet, these became the building blocks toward my career.”
“Increasingly, nurses are expected to achieve at least a bachelor’s degree along with their RN in order to function more as a peer with physicians and to promote leadership with staff. Many colleges and universities offer these programs. In fact, there’s a new RN program being taught in a few colleges that is specifically tailored for people who already hold a master’s degree in other fields. It’s only 18 months compared to two years in community college and four years at the university level.”
“The most important aspect of my early education in becoming a caregiver was a six-week nurses’ aide certification class and this was a hands-on care for patients’ most basic needs is the basis on which we build the knowledge, critical thinking and problem solving necessary for every successful RN. The program granted me access to the inner workings of compassionate care for the sick and helpless. Observing and working with staff RNs helped me understand, on a deeper level, what the gift of being an RN could be.”
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.