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Old 11-16-2010, 10:31 PM
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Default 45, Male and Now a Nurse

November 5, 2010
45, Male and Now a Nurse


BALTIMORE?S gritty Levindale section is a world apart from Ponce Inlet, Fla., the upscale barrier island where Rich Van Rensselaer owned a boutique liquor store and shop before becoming a trauma nurse. If you had asked Mr. Van Rensselaer in 2004 if he thought he would trade in life in Margaritaville for nursing he might have assumed you had been to one too many of his wine-tasting events.
?Never in a million years,? he says, laughing, as he walks the halls of Sinai Hospital, showing off his workplace.

Like many who come to nursing as a second profession, Mr. Van Rensselaer was motivated after caring for a loved one through an illness ? in his case, his mother, who battled thyroid cancer and whom he nursed at her home in the final three months of her life. ?It was rewarding,? he says. ?It was important for my mother to die at home. Working with hospice nurses allowed me to do that for her. And I realized, ?I can do this.? ?
Nursing is one of the most popular and accepting professions for career changers, due in part to a shortage that?s gone on for decades. Nearly 40 percent of students studying to become registered nurses are over age 30, and candidates who already have four-year degrees, like Mr. Van Rensselaer, are highly prized.

To attract students from other disciplines, nursing schools are putting new emphasis on second bachelor?s degrees that can be completed in about a year.

With an opportunity for management and research, and salaries that mirror the premium that the medical field now places on the work ? established nurses in the New York area earn an average of $70,000 ? it?s no wonder that nursing is moving past its low-prestige image. The female-dominated profession is also fast shedding its negative male-nurse stereotype.

Though men make up just 6 percent of the profession, they represent nearly 14 percent of the current nursing-student population. One of Mr. Van Rensselaer?s biggest challenges was convincing his father that nursing was a career for a middle-age man. ?His image of nursing was women in little white caps.? Eventually, his father came around. ?When I talked with him about what the work was really about ? keeping people alive ? he understood.?

The 16-month program was exhausting, and left almost no time for a personal life. The concentrated lineup of courses included pathopharmacology; children, family and geriatric nursing; psychiatric and trauma nursing; community nursing; and digital management of patient care. He completed 220 clinical hours and 90 hours applying evidence-based practice to a patient care problem ? his was on alternative solutions to pain management.

Students have to maintain at least a 3.0 average to stay in the program; many, he says, dropped back to an expanded curriculum (it can be completed over 21 and 23 months as well). Mr. Van Rensselaer did more than survive the punishing pace. His 3.7 G.P.A. qualified him for a $10,000 scholarship from Sinai Hospital. In exchange, he committed to work at the hospital for three years.

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Old 11-17-2010, 08:58 PM
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Great article!
Cary James Barrett, RN, BSN, CPT, Army Nurse [& USMC Veteran]
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Last edited by SoldierNurse; 11-17-2010 at 09:12 PM.
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