High school students take nursing careers for a test drive

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2012

(BPT) – – Rachel Trevino always aspired to become a nurse. As a senior at a Chicago high school, she enrolled in the Navigate to Nursing (N2N) scholarship program, a dual enrollment program offered through Chamberlain College of Nursing. The program allowed Trevino to better understand the demands of college courses while contemplating her own future career. The hands-on experience helped her develop key skills she may need if she pursued a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, such as the ability to complete assignments in a timely and organized way and a comfort level interacting with faculty and students in online discussion boards.

Chamberlain’s N2N scholarship program provides up to $8,500 in assistance for tuition to allow qualified high school seniors to begin earning college credit – online and on-site – toward a BSN while in high school. Trevino completed one course on campus and one course online through the program while completing her second semester of her senior year in high school. Eligible students must have a minimum high school cumulative grade point average of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale and submit a letter of recommendation and an official copy of their high school transcript, among other requirements.

High school seniors often perceive the challenges of successfully transitioning to college as barriers to their continued education. Many state lawmakers support dual enrollment programs as an effective tool for overcoming these obstacles and setting the stage for college success. The experience gives high school seniors an opportunity to utilize college resources, helping them understand and meet college-level expectations. With help from professional advisors and resources, the students are able to navigate education options and develop a reasonable plan for meeting their career objectives.

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Dual enrollment programs also help to prepare students for careers in fields where demand is growing, such as nursing. With more than 50 percent of its workforce nearing retirement, the nursing industry is experiencing a shortage, according to a report in Nursing World magazine. This demand will become magnified when more than 30 million Americans become eligible to receive healthcare coverage under new legislation. Though this news is concerning for healthcare providers, it has ripened the employment market for incoming graduates.

While many industries are decreasing the size of their workforce, nursing is growing twice as fast as the general economy. A March 2012 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report projects 1.2 million job openings for nurses by 2020. Similarly, a 2011 report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing indicates the average job offer rate for BSN program graduates at the time of graduation is 56 percent, compared to 24.4 percent for all new college graduates.

Today, Rachel Trevino is enrolled in the three-year BSN degree program at Chamberlain in Chicago. She has narrowed her focus in nursing to labor and delivery.

“Chamberlain’s Navigate to Nursing scholarship program helped me transition from high school to college level courses and assignments,” Trevino says. “I always intended to pursue nursing as a career, but getting a head start in high school eased my nerves about attending college and gave me the confidence to be an active participant in a more advanced college environment.”

Whether they are tailored to nursing or other growing industries, dual enrollment programs help students prepare for college success and a future supporting the nation’s workforce. Taking a career for a test drive can help students turn the dream of entering a career field into a reality, expanding the horizons for those who may otherwise have ruled out education after high school.