Nursing on the 'Fast Track'; Second-Career Students Get Training Boost at Area Colleges

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 9, 2004 | Go to article overview

Nursing on the 'Fast Track'; Second-Career Students Get Training Boost at Area Colleges


Byline: Ann Geracimos, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The new face of nursing is a 25-year-old former high school math and science teacher who is a former PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP employee and a devotee of rock climbing.

Sound improbable? A lot of people might think so. But not if they encountered Keith Roussil. He's a fourth-generation Washingtonian who, in January, joined a class of 32 candidates in Georgetown University's School of Nursing and Health Studies' 16-month program for a registered-nurse degree.

His commitment and enthusiasm are typical of what Tricia Lawlor Jorden, Georgetown's director of admissions and outreach, sees as "a new type of clinician" entering the marketplace. Outwardly unassuming and low key, Mr. Roussil has a high propensity for excitement and low threshold for boredom - tendencies, he says, that explain why many men in the nursing field are drawn to the emergency-room and acute-care departments.

After graduation in May, he plans to work in a hospital emergency room in Colorado. He will also be able to practice his outdoor skills.

Shortages of trained nurses just about everywhere ensure that such graduates can write their own ticket. At the same time, many of those in so-called accelerated programs focus on further education and possible administrative jobs, according to Patricia Grady, director of the National Institutes of Health Institute of Nursing Research, which supports scientific studies of patient-oriented health care.

A graduate of the Georgetown R.N. program and holder of a doctorate in physiology from the University of Maryland's School of Nursing, Ms. Grady calls herself a "hybrid" - and foresees more such graduates going into research and specialization. The nursing field currently has some 200 clinical affiliations.

Mr. Roussil says he is one of the few students in his class not going directly into a specialty when he graduates, but he doesn't discount such a move later on.

A graduate of Gonzaga College High School who holds a degree in information systems from

from Drexel University in Philadelphia, he decided during a three-month stint teaching at his old high school that he wanted more one-on-one contact with people than working with computers and lecturing to adolescents provided.

Nor was he drawn to the idea of becoming a physician, most of whom he says "look at only one part of the body for the most part. ... A doctor says put this technical monitor on the patient; it's the nurse that monitors the patient 24/7."

He calls the distinction "the difference between an architect and engineer" - between the one who dreams up a building and one who makes the building work. Being able to "shadow" nursing professionals under the direction of Georgetown assistant professor Colleen Norton convinced him to quit his job and apply to Georgetown.

Accelerated programs for second-career students - those who have a degree in another field - are offered at a number of nursing schools, each with a slightly different approach, although most run concurrently with traditional four-year degree programs.

Applicants' backgrounds vary greatly, and the number of men enrolling in the fast-track programs is increasing. (Men make up anywhere from zero to 20 percent per fast-track class, for an average of 11 percent.)

"I went into nursing because I want to marry a doctor," is how Mr. Roussil laughs off those who question why he wants to enter a career typically, and stereotypically, considered "women's work."

Ages vary widely, too. A 62-year-old grandmother who graduated from Georgetown in 2002 now works at Providence Hospital. Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, which began a fast-track program more than 10 years ago, annually enrolls a large number of returning Peace Corps volunteers. …

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