Did you know that nursing is the largest of the health care professions and that it is projected to increase by 6 percent a year over the next decade? Or that an average hospital nurse walks several miles in a shift? Or that NAU offers nursing programs at NAU, various campuses statewide and through the Personalized Learning program? For National Nurses Day on May 6, The NAU Review talked to Jason Bradley, assistant clinical professor and program coordinator for the nursing programs in Yuma and Tucson, about the importance of preparing more high-quality nurses to help meet Arizona’s critical shortages.
Tell us about the nursing program and your background in the field.
The NAU-Yuma BSN program began in January 2008. The inaugural cohort had two students, and the program began on-site at Yuma Regional Medical Center as a collaboration between YRMC and NAU. In 2016, the program grew from cohorts of 10 students admitted per semester to 20 students admitted per semester. In the August 2018, the program was moved to the NAU-Yuma campus. In Fall 2022, the program grew to admit 30 students per cohort each semester. Over these 15 years, the program has grown from having two full-time faculty, and in the fall there will be seven full-time faculty. The students and program are a stellar program highlighting the importance of the NAU-Yuma campus.
Tell us about the accelerated nursing program that NAU recently launched.
The new accelerated BSN options that are coming to NAU in 2023 are a response the the State of Arizona and a plan to build the new health care workforce in the state. There is a significant shortage of nurses and other health care professionals in Arizona, and this serves as the reason for these new learning opportunities.
How is the program working to address the ongoing nursing shortage statewide?
Throughout the state, NAU has implemented new fast-paced BSN options that will take either 12 months or 16 months to complete. These efforts reduce are aimed at helping graduate more nurses, more quickly to aid in them joining the workforce in the near future.
What advice would you give to individuals who are considering a career in nursing, and what qualities are essential for success in this field?
To be an effective professional nurse candidate’s need to be prepared to be leaders, advocates and educators who are compassionate, caring and have effective communication skills. It is important for nurses to be organized, know how to prioritize, be critical thinkers and remain resilient, adaptable & flexible throughout their career. If you want to be a nurse, be ready to work hard and shine as an example of the most trusted profession year after year.
What are your hopes for the nursing profession, and how do you see the Yuma program contributing to that vision?
In the long term, I hope that nursing continues to gain more credibility and leverage in our health care system. Nurses are leaders, and the options for a nurse to benefit our society are limitless. It is my hope that eventually all nurses will be required to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing and that nurses will lead independent teams throughout communities to promote health care prevention, wellness and optimal health and serve as stellar role models.
In honor of National Nurses Day, what would you say to the nurses who are working tirelessly to care for patients during this difficult time?
Nurses are the backbone of our society and health care system. Nurses have demonstrated, especially since March 2020, that this nation and its people depend on nurses immensely. Nurses are special human beings that approach every situation with a kind heart, an open mind and a desire to understand the other while making efforts to ease their situation in life, reduce suffering and improve outcomes. Nurses are superheroes, and we need to hold our heads high with pride every day. I personally have gratitude for every nurse, and I am grateful for the many who have played a special role in my life.