Rochester Regional Health looking for diversity in nursing
Rochester Regional Health’s nursing school held an open house Wednesday aimed at expanding diversity in its student body.
Staff at the Isabella Graham Hart School of Practical Nursing said they often encounter stereotyped ideas about who belongs in the profession.
Tammy Stewart, the school’s admissions director, recounted another open house where a man started to lose interest. “He was getting ready to get up and leave, because he’s like ‘oh, no, this is a woman’s career,’ and I was like ‘oh, no. Come back and sit down,’” she said.
Men make up about 10 percent of the school’s student body, said Deb Stamps, Rochester Regional’s vice president of quality and safety, but the proportion is climbing.
At Wednesday’s open house, almost every seat was filled. There was a smattering of men in the audience: Carson was looking to move into nursing after volunteering with Rochester Regional; Will said he wanted to enroll in nursing school after his experience helping with cardiovascular surgery; and Chaz worked security at Park Ridge Hospital but said he was ready for the next chapter in his life.
Still, though, the audience was mostly women.
That’s okay, Stewart said. Change is slow. In the meantime, the school is looking to expand diversity in race and economic background, recruiting students like Rachel Davis. Now 47 years old, Davis had a child at 17 and said she had worked as a secretary in the emergency department at Rochester General Hospital for 20 years.
Davis said she is not yet accepted into the nursing school, but she knows how she’s going to make it work when she gets her acceptance letter. “I’m really ready for this. I’m working 16-hour weekends and one eight-hour shift during the week,” at her job across the street from the nursing school, “so I’ll still get my 40 hours,” she said.
Nursing school administrators said Davis’s challenges were not unusual. Nurses come from all kinds of backgrounds, they said, and they want their student body to reflect that.