Nurses know first hand just how exciting, unpredictable, and satisfying the career can be. No two days are the same, you’re constantly learning new things, and you have opportunities to connect with and help people in ways you never imagined.
But how can you explain all that to kids so they think of nursing as a career?
Sharing your excitement and your satisfaction over your career is the first step. And then letting them know the detailed reasons (given their ages, of course!), is the next step.
The easiest advice is to just start talking with the kids in your life. Ask them questions. What do they think nurses do? What equipment do they think nurses work with? What do they think might be interesting about a nurse’s job?
A great way to spread the word about nursing is to offer to give a presentation in a local school, library, or youth organization. You would have to tailor your words to the specific ages, but there are lots of ways to do that.
Bring relevant and approved equipment and show kids how it is used. Bring in books (Dr. Scharmaine Baker’s Nola the Nurse books are great for the younger kids) and coloring pages.
While some kids know what nurses do, many don’t have a real understanding of the job and duties. You can explain there are different types of nurses. Talk about your specialty and how you help people. Think of one or two stories that really show how your job is meaningful.
Teens will appreciate stories with more intensity, especially if they can relate to it somehow. You could even base part of the presentation on media images of nurses. The Truth About Nursing is a great resource for that topic. And everyone loves something that will make them laugh, so if you can offer up a story that shows the job is fun, that’s an attention getter.
Make sure kids know what it was like to be in nursing school. Describe what clinicals are like and how you can be out doing real work during your college years. Some kids are especially drawn to the “doing” more than the books, so if you can work in how your student nursing work really helped you and related to what your professors were teaching, it makes the idea of nursing school that much more appealing.
Lastly, think of a quick elevator pitch that can be used for kids. We all know how you should be able to sum up what you do and why it’s important in a quick elevator pitch to colleagues or at a networking event. But if you’re in your scrubs and a youngster unexpectedly asks you what you do, it’s great to have a response. Start by saying, “I’m a nurse. Do you know what a nurse does?” Then sum it up in one or two sentences.
Getting kids interested in a nursing career helps the younger generation understand nursing. More importantly, getting them interested will help ensure a steady pipeline of younger nurses to meet the real growing need for qualified nurses.