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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 26, 2012

“The nursing shortage is real”
State foundation launches library display to promote nursing

GUILDERLAND — Nurses Gertrude Hutchinson and Debra Wolff hope their display at the Guilderland Public Library this month will help encourage others to pursue nursing as a career.

Both women work for the Foundation of New York State Nurses Coalition, at 2113 Western Ave.; Hutchinson is the archivist, and Wolff is the project coordinator.

They put together a display of objects from the foundation’s archive, along with books, photographs of local nurses, and personal pins they collected from various nursing events. They are calling the exhibit “Nurses in Action.”

“The nursing shortage is real,” said Hutchinson, who explained that statistics show the average age of a registered nurse in the state is 50.

“The problem is an aging nursing population and limited nursing faculty,” Hutchinson said. As many as 4,000 nursing school applicants have been rejected per year because there aren’t enough teachers and there aren’t enough venues for the clinical experience.

The goal of the foundation and the exhibit is to spur interest in and knowledge of the nursing profession, to promote and show the variety of careers available, and to increase public education about nursing.

Wolff, who has a community public health degree in nursing, is currently pursuing her doctorate degree at Russell Sage; Hutchinson has master’s degrees in history and information sciences, and was a clinical nurse for 34 years. She is considering following in Wolff’s footsteps and going back for a doctoral degree in nursing.

“We’re seeing a lot of young people going to nursing school, but also a lot of people choosing nursing as a second career, or nurses looking to advance their careers,” she said. She hopes the exhibit will excite people about all the possibilities under the “umbrella of nursing.”

“There was a woman who approached us while we were setting up the display and she told us she had a bachelor’s degree in radiology, but was considering going back to school for a nursing degree, and she wanted to get information from us,” said Wolff.

“We also had a book we got from the library about forensic nursing that we wanted to include, and, when we came back, we found out a nurse who wasn’t familiar with that field had checked the book out for more information,” Hutchinson said.

The exhibit is making its debut at the Guilderland Public Library because, said Hutchinson, it is truly a “community library.”

“They run displays from groups in the community monthly, and, when I presented my idea, they jumped right on it and said, ‘We’ve got January open,’” said Hutchinson. The library, she said, has been enthusiastic and accommodating.

The exhibit will travel to eight or nine other libraries throughout the state until October, but, since Guilderland is the first location, Wolff and Hutchinson have included an evaluation and encourage visitors to leave feedback.

The display is open until Jan. 30 during library hours.

“We’re hoping to help the public understand what the profession of nursing really is, and it’s importance as a transformative change agent to improve health care,” said Wolff.

By Anne Hayden

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