Event piques kids’ interest in nursing as a career option
Published April 12, 2013
The first things you hear are exclamations of delight and wonder, usually followed by a few giggles.
They are the sounds of the second annual “Adventures in Nursing” event, which was held March 23 at NDSU’s Sudro Hall. Sponsored by the NDSU Student Nursing Association, the outreach learning opportunity attracted fourth-graders from across the region.
In one exercise, the children removed sutures and dressed a mock wound on a mannequin. “Yew, that kind of freaks me out,” said Madison Blattenbauer of Glyndon, Minn., with her wide eyes peeking just over a surgical mask. “It’s sort of bloody.”
Madison was one of 25 youngsters who came to campus from several communities within an hour radius of Fargo-Moorhead. They came from towns like Hawley, Pelican Rapids, Kindred and Casselton to participate in a challenging hands-on learning experience. They had a chance to use a stethoscope to listen to heart and lungs, wear operating room garb, operate lift equipment to move a “patient” into a wheelchair and learn about nutrition and geriatrics.
“Our goal is to introduce them to nursing, to give them a chance to see what we do,” explained Karla Haug, assistant professor of nursing and the Student Nursing Association adviser. “These are fourth-graders and they learn by doing. So, we try to keep them busy.”
According to Haug, there is a nationwide shortage of nurses, with North Dakota seeing increased need in rural communities and the western oil patch. “We’re targeting students from rural areas for this project, with the hope that in 10 years, they will come to NDSU to study nursing and then move back home to be a nurse,” she said.
A fun activity, combined with a healthy dose of learning, was the clear method of the day. In one classroom, a group enthusiastically played a “Jeopardy” game with questions about aging.
“I like playing this game. It’s fun,” said Sarah Vigum of Twin Valley, Minn., after she correctly answered that the oldest person on earth is 113 and lives in Japan.
“When I grow up, I want to be a nurse,” Sarah said with conviction. “And a veterinarian.”
The “Adventures in Nursing” event has been a clear success during its first two years, and organizers say it will become an annual tradition in the NDSU Department of Nursing. The focus is to pique the youngsters’ curiosity and interest, and perhaps give a gentle nudge toward a future career decision.
“It’s vital that we talk about the importance of science as they come up through school. Introducing them to the medical field might motivate some of them to consider it as an option,” said Amber Kracht, a junior from Valley City, N.D., who is a member of the association board and was named NDSU’s Student Nurse of the Year. “This event also is a great way to reach out to the community.”
The learning is a two-way street. While the youngsters get a taste of a career in nursing, the NDSU students gain valued experience and connect with their potential protégés.
“A lot of our students want to be pediatric nurses in the future. They love kids and I think it’s great to show them how interested we are in nursing,” said Lesley Locken, a junior from Burnsville, Minn., who is the association president.
“We love the interaction; that’s what makes it so special,” Locken continued. “It becomes a fun a day, and we become role models for the kids. We can really have an impact on their lives.”