Professional nursing holds a unique place in the American health care system. Nurses have always served on the frontline of health crises, natural disasters and epidemics, and today is no different.
As members of the largest health care profession, with over 4.3 million registered nurses and 325,000 nurse practitioners, nurses have been chosen as the most trusted profession for the last 20 years, according to Gallup's 2021 Honesty and Ethics poll.
Across the nation, we celebrate the work and careers of nurses in all areas of the profession during Nurses Week from May 6 to May 12, 2022. On behalf of the UTEP School of Nursing, I’d like to recognize and thank all nurses for their contributions to the well-being of society and the positive impact they have on our lives, especially during these unprecedented times.
Since the start of the pandemic, nurses, alongside other health care providers, have been lauded for their courage and commitment as our nation faced one of the greatest health care challenges in our recent history. Nurses are critical links in maintaining a cutting-edge health care system and transforming the future of health care. Professional nurses will continue to be indispensable members of the health care team.
The demand for nurses is rising in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be about 194,500 openings for registered nurses each year through 2030. The need for nurse practitioners will be much higher with an overall employment increase of 45% over the next decade.
For nearly 50 years, the UTEP School of Nursing has prepared highly qualified registered nurses and nurse practitioners to meet the demands of an increasingly complex health care system. As more than 60% of El Paso nurses are UTEP graduates, it is highly likely that a UTEP nurse took good care of you or your family in the hospital or at the doctor’s office.
After all, our Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program graduated 3,500 nurses from 2011 to 2021, more than any other nursing program in the borderland. Our BSN graduates consistently surpass local and national averages for first-time pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nurses, validating our best efforts to ensure new nurses are properly prepared to enter the nursing profession.
Despite the upheaval to their education over the past two years, our fall 2021 graduates achieved an overall passing rate of 96%, which is the highest in El Paso and well above the national average of 86%.
Our nurse practitioner program continues to grow to meet the rising need for advanced practitioners. We offer the only neonatal concentration for advanced practice registered nurses in West Texas and New Mexico. Our psychiatric mental health concentration prepares nurse practitioners to address the increasing demand for mental health services associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nursing as a career provides unlimited mobility and professional advancement opportunities. The ability to continue to grow, learn and reinvent your nursing focus makes nursing a very attractive profession for lifelong learners.
But more importantly, nurses make a significant impact on people’s lives. This Nurses Week, I encourage people to take a moment to thank nurses everywhere for enriching our lives through their service, dedication and personal sacrifice and making a difference in our community.
Leslie K. Robbins is a professor and dean of the UTEP School of Nursing.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Nurses impact people’s lives: Leslie K. Robbins