Macgillivray Elected President-Elect of Pediatric Endocrine Society

By Lois Baker

Release Date: June 8, 1994 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The United States will need 612,000 more nurses by the year 2000, according to some estimates.

So how do you convince more young people to enter the field? Introduce them to a nurse, according to the results of a new study of attitudes toward the profession conducted by a researcher from the University at Buffalo.

It found that college students who were closely acquainted with a nurse felt the field was more challenging, higher paying and a greater benefit to society than those who were not. Academic major and gender also seemed to play a role in the students’ perceptions. Of the 99 students surveyed, business majors had the most negative opinions about nursing, findings showed, followed closely in this survey by human-service majors. Predictably, nursing majors had the most positive feeling about the profession.

Female students judged nursing more difficult, more challenging and more responsible than males, a difference that helps to explain the small number of males entering the profession.

The study, conducted by Adele Pillitteri, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UB School of Nursing, was published in the March issue of Journal of Nursing Education.

"Watching 'General Hospital,' you'd think all nurses do is stand around, talk and keep charts," Pillitteri said. "Nursing has a negative image, but it is an exciting, enjoyable profession. To recruit new people into it, we need to show them that."

Enrollment in baccalaureate nursing programs nationwide fell by 31 percent between 1983 and 1989, Pillitteri notes in her study. Enrollment is on the rise again, she said, but nursing schools won’t be able to meet the anticipated demand unless they devise new, more compelling ways to recruit students.

Pillitteri said the best nurse-recruitment strategy -- short of securing higher pay and improved working conditions across the profession -- may be to concentrate on personal contact, not curriculum.

"Instead of devoting a great deal of time to program characteristics, a better idea might be to introduce prospective students early to nursing instructors, junior or senior students or, ideally, spending a day with a nurse in actual practice, " she noted.