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Nora Arellano

Nora Arellano

Solving the Nursing Shortage

Meeting Nursing Students Where They Are

As the “Baby Boomer” generation ages, the need for nursing care is expected to grow beyond levels our current healthcare system can handle. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2050, the number of U.S. residents age 65 and older is expected to double from 2012 levels. Adding to the challenge, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that nursing schools were forced to turn away more than 75,000 qualified applicants in 2018 due to insufficient faculty, clinical sites, and more.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center is facing this uphill climb with a full-force effort to bring more nurses into the fold. The key is to meet students where they are—in their life, and in their hometown. One such student impacted by UNMC’s strategy is Nora Arellano.

“I saw UNMC had a nursing program in Norfolk,” she said. “I didn’t have to be hours away from my family to get a University of Nebraska education.”

“I didn’t have to be hours away from my family to get a University of Nebraska education.”

Arellano is balancing her nursing career with caring for her two children, both under the age of 10.

“Going through the program with young kids was definitely tough. But I became really good friends with a couple of my classmates who also had kids, and we kind of bonded over that. ‘How do you do it?’ and things like that. I don’t know if I would have been able to do it without my support system, if I had to move away. I don’t know what my future would have been if I didn’t have the UNMC program here in Norfolk.”

students gathered around a digital medical learning device
The J. Paul and Eleanor McIntosh building houses UNMC’s College of Nursing in Norfolk.

UNMC’s program is bringing the latest in nursing education to students in more places, operating divisions in Omaha, as well as Lincoln, Kearney, Scottsbluff, and Norfolk. Using UNMC’s vast instruction resources and modern facilities, students at each location receive the same education, and interact with fellow students and faculty throughout the state. By graduation day, they’re more than prepared to join the workforce. Arellano turned her hands-on training into a job at Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk.

“We already got our toes wet in the hospital in clinical rotations—we got to talk to managers and nurses and do projects in the hospital that let them get to know us,” Arellano said. “They were already trying us out.”

More resources for nursing instruction mean more qualified nurses, happier families, a healthier economy…and a stronger Nebraska.

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