Statewide there is a nursing shortage. Many hospitals and clinics in smaller communities are having a difficult time recruiting and retaining bachelor’s prepared nurses to work in those facilities.

For example, the Salina Regional Hospital, as of last May, alone had 30 open positions. The hospital at Emporia had 15 open positions for a much smaller hospital.

Dr. Monica Scheibmeir , the Dean of the School of Nursing at Washburn University, gave an outlook on jobs and possibilities for graduates.

“Currently in the Topeka community, there are at least 40-60 open positions right now.” Scheibmeir said, “Nationwide, there are many opportunities for work across the nation. Probably California is one of the few states that doesn’t have a lot of vacancies because they have so many nursing programs.”

For nursing graduates there will be multiple opportunities in critical care areas. For others, where they are somewhat uncertain, there are multiple opportunities in the ambulatory side, or outpatient side.

Many clinics give many opportunities for employment. It’s more so what a students interest is in healthcare relative to the positions.

Washburn University offers graduate degrees, including a masters in organizational nursing called clinical nurse leader, the doctorate programs that include becoming a family nurse practitioner, an adult geriatric nurse practitioner or a psychiatric health nurse practitioner.

“We are phasing out our masters program for nurse practitioners and are replacing it with the doctorate program for nurse practitioners.” said Scheibmeir, “There will be multiple opportunities in their lifetime for job change. Students may find that they are quite satisfied with their nursing role, but about 50 percent do choose to go on to graduate school as found by our graduate surveys.”

Students have had more exposure now to advanced practice roles, maybe in surgery or in the hospital in general, and it may be what’s peaking their interest.

Students can come back to add to their associate’s degree later from a community college, or choose to retrain for a different position in a doctorate degree at Washburn.

The need to attend graduate school depends on the position a nurse wants to be working in. If a specialized position is sought after, such as surgical or psychiatric, graduate school may be a necessity or a helpful add-on to their college degrees.

In general practice only a Bachelor of Science and Nursing degree is mandatory, graduate school is not required but may be sought after.

The nursing courses taken at Washburn to fulfill a bachelor degree may touch on some specialized areas, such as surgery, women and maternity, pharmacology and leadership. Students wanting to further pursue a certain area are encouraged to go to graduate school.

Students new to Washburn may find a graduate plan available on the Washburn website. This plan can give students a guide to what courses they will be needed each year in college, and may give them direction as to where they want to work.

General education requirements are normally taken in the first two years of a nursing degree, as the last two are used to focus on nursing and specialized courses.