From healthleaders.com March 2002 magazine:
Health Leaders Speak Out
Colleen Conway-Welch on the Nursing Shortage
Nursing as a profession has not done a good job of explaining everything we do to the public. One of the best ways to address the shortage is to get the information out there-that nursing is the best-kept career secret in this country. The Department of Labor says you change careers twice, and jobs at least five times, in your lifetime. You can do all of that within nursing-with one license. My first job was in labor and delivery. In subsequent jobs, I ran an emergency room, gave test questions for achievement exams with the National League for Nursing Testing, and eventually taught. No other career offers you all of those opportunities on the same license.
I think we also need to focus on work redesign and creating better partnerships between nursing schools and nursing services. In terms of redesign we still work in hospitals designed 50 years ago. The healthcare industry is way behind banking and transportation when it comes to using computers and informatics to cut down on manual labor.
Nursing schools and nursing services also need to collaborate and offer work-study programs to engage students in patient care in more meaningful ways. Up until recently, these two areas were separate enterprises. At Vanderbilt we are starting to offer programs where beginning students can be nurse's aides. This helps the hospital and gives students firsthand experience with certain techniques. Nationwide, we are seeing new models where the deans of schools of nursing and the chief nursing officers are joined at the hip in terms of trying to support each other. That is a very positive sign. At Vanderbilt, we have about 40 community-based practices where nursing faculty work with physicians in both primary and specialty care. Nurses are the glue that holds the healthcare system together. We better figure out how to get them and keep them in nursing."
Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., C.N.M., has served as professor and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing since 1984. Before joining the Vanderbilt faculty, Conway-Welch was a professor of nursing and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. Earlier in her career, she was a staff/charge nurse at Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu. Conway-Welch received her doctorate in nursing from New York University in 1973.