Boston College Annual Report 2003

BEST PRACTICES
William F. Connell School of Nursing

.When they were young girls, Shannon Fallon ’06 and Amelia Fournier ’06 each witnessed the power of nursing firsthand.

Shannon’s great-grandparents had lived with her family, so when the couple moved into a nursing home, she visited frequently. Gradually, Shannon began to notice a contrast between the care provided by doctors and the care provided by the nurses. She was inspired by the nurses’ personal touch. “I hope I can meet a lot of amazing people and help them,” Shannon says.

When Amelia’s grandmother was losing her battle with cancer, thoughtful and competent nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital made the process easier to bear. “We would go into the hospital about four times a week and the nurses were so nice,” she remembers. For Amelia, who hopes to lighten other people’s burdens the way her grandmother’s nurses did, the key to success is not complicated. “It’s the ease of being able to talk to patients,” she says. “It sounds corny, but I want the chance to give them a break in their day.”

Amelia and Shannon, both freshmen in Boston College’s William F. Connell School of Nursing, may be prepping for careers with ample job satisfaction, but they are also providing a vital public service. Along with each of the Connell School graduates, they are poised to help relieve a nursing shortage that threatens to turn into a public health crisis.

Nationwide, many hospitals are unable to fill all of their nursing positions simply because there are not enough qualified applicants. And the situation is worsening. America’s nursing workforce is aging, with many nurses facing retirement within the next decade, and an insufficient number of nurses are training to fill the gap. The federal Health Resources and Services Administration puts today’s nursing shortage at about seven percent, but predicts it will skyrocket to 29 percent by 2020. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists nursing among the ten occupations likely to offer the greatest number of new jobs.

Boston College’s nursing school—named for William Connell ’59, who donated $10 million to the school before his death in 2001—is sending well-educated nurses into hospitals that desperately need them. The only nursing school in Boston that offers a doctoral program, the Connell School educates professional nurses whose practice embodies a humanistic ethic and is scientifically based, technically competent, and highly compassionate. The Connell School enrolls about 230 undergraduate and 180 graduate students and was ranked 19th in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

.“Bill’s Catholic faith and his allegiance to Boston College were two of the deepest commitments of his life. In directing a gift to the BC School of Nursing, these two commitments are being honored in a lasting lifelong way, ensuring that the vocation of nursing will be supported with academic excellence in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.”
MARGOT CONNELL

While the nursing shortage is acute, even more critical is the shortage of nurses who teach. Less than two percent of nurses today have a doctorate, which generally is required to teach at the university level, says Dean Barbara Hazard Munro. Some other nursing schools, she adds, have been forced to turn away students because of a lack of faculty. At Boston College, the Connell School’s doctoral program is preparing the experts who will educate future generations of nurses.

“Connell School graduates are recruited aggressively because employers know they have received not only an education specific to nursing, but also the kind of well-rounded education that will help them perform in today’s complex, high-tech health care environment,” says Munro. “Every Connell graduate who enters the nursing profession is not only embarking on a meaningful career, but also providing an essential public service.”

For Amelia and Shannon, thoughts of advanced degrees are still far off. Amelia expects she’ll work as a nurse directly after graduation, then pursue an advanced degree after she has more job experience. She is considering a variety of career opportunities. “The professors told us lots of stories and had lots of speakers come in and talk about different nursing pathways,” she says. For now, though, she’ll learn the rudiments of bedside nursing. “Soon we’ll be doing clinicals,” Amelia says. “Everyone’s very excited about getting to do some hands-on work.”

Photo at top of page: (left to right) Shannon Fallon, Amelia Fournier, and Rita Olivieri, associate professor in the Connell School of Nursing, in the nursing simulation lab.

Inset photo: Margot (Gensler) Connell (center), wife of William F. Connell ’59, with their children. Top row (left to right): Terence A. ’02, and William C. ’94. Bottom (left to right): Monica Healey ’88, Timothy P. ’03, Lisa McNamara ’89, and Courtenay Toner ’91.


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