KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 22 2003 -- Freshman enrollment in the University of Rhode Islands College of Nursing has more than doubled from last year thanks to intensified recruiting, a strengthened relationship with the Hospital Association of Rhode Island and a new video that highlights the wide range of career options.
In the fall, 129 freshmen enrolled in the college, compared with 55 in 2002. In fact, it is the highest total since 1998 and 1999 when 65 freshmen enrolled in each of those years. Undergraduate enrollment at the college totals 450.
The college and Dean Dayle Joseph have been at the forefront of efforts to expose the profession to high school students. As co-chair of Colleagues in Caring, Joseph has helped bring all of the schools of nursing in the state to boost enrollment. "We held an informational session for teachers," Joseph said. "They were not aware of the varied career paths nursing students can now pursue."
"Nationally, there has also been a real push, and thanks to the education and advertising campaign of Johnson & Johnson, the profession has gained new visibility," Joseph said. She said the health products company has run an effective television ad campaign that has been supplemented by information brochures.
Boosting enrollments at nursing schools has been an imperative because nursing shortages are being felt across the country, according to both Joseph and Edward J. Quinlan, president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.
Through the efforts of Nursing Professor Paula Viau, the college produced a video that is now used at presentations in schools, hospitals and agencies.
Joseph said more students are looking to nursing because it is a challenging and exciting career with good salaries and benefits. "Students can make $40,000 in an acute care setting," she said.
Another outcome of the strong recruiting efforts is that about 15 percent of the total nursing enrollment at URI is male and about 18 percent is made up of minority students. "Weve made great strides in bringing diversity to our student body; now we are working on making our faculty more diverse."
Joseph added that nursing at URI has become more attractive because the college has done a better job of emphasizing the close interaction students have with faculty. "Nursing is one-to-one education because much of it takes place in clinical settings."
Associate Nursing Dean Ruth Waldman said URI is not only attracting more students, but attracting better students as well. "We are getting more Centennial Scholars, so the quality of the students is improving," she said. The Centennial Scholarship is a four-year, merit-based scholarship offered to top graduating high school seniors.
Quinlan, chief at the Hospital Association, said he has been working with all of the schools of nursing to encourage them to promote nursing in the high schools, bolster retention and encourage registered nurses to return to school to earn their bachelors degrees.
Quinlan, who is a member of the URI College of Nursing Advisory Council, praised Joseph for her work with other schools and the association to stimulate interest in nursing. In addition to her work with Colleagues in Caring, Joseph sits on the Health Partnership Council, which was developed by the association.
He said Cathy E. Duquette, a senior vice president at the Hospital Association, who earned her bachelors and masters degrees in nursing at URI, has been involved with the schools, hospitals and the association.
"The result of all of this work has been extraordinary," Quinlan said. "Weve seen a doubling and tripling of enrollments at all the schools."