Encourage elementary school students to explore the world of nursing
Many elementary school children are surprised to learn that nurses are found outside a doctor’s office - conducting research, prescribing medications, delivering babies, working in the business world, teaching and more.
One way to get young students excited about being a nurse when they grow up is by encouraging them to think,
“I didn’t know nurses could Do that!!”
A study commissioned by Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, a coalition of leading nursing and health care organizations, found that most children want to enter the health care field to help people. However, most students were considering medicine, not nursing. Why? Children were unsure of a nurse’s education level, responsibilities and opportunities for career advancement. They were even uncertain about what a nurse wears to work and whether men could enter nursing.
Elementary school career days and other times that allow for classroom visitors provide an excellent opportunity for nurses to share facts about nursing with students. The following is designed to provide a framework for a 20-minute classroom presentation on nursing.
Using the following "Am I a nurse?" questions as a guide, describe in a few words what you do during the day. For example, “I deliver babies; do research; write prescriptions for medicine; help kids when they are worried about a problem; teach doctors in medical school” etc. Then describe what you wear—whether it’s a lab coat, scrubs, a suit or something else—and any instruments you use during the day, such as a stethoscope, microscope, etc.
Am I a nurse?
1. I ___________________________________________________________.
2. And I wear ____________________________________________ to work.
3. At my job, I use ______________________________________________.
4.Am I a nurse?_____________Yes _____________ No
Complete three "Am I a nurse?" worksheets
We encourage you to complete three “Am I a nurse?” worksheets: one that presents a description of your own job, plus two additional worksheets that portray other nurse professionals, such as a nurse journalist, government official, entrepreneur, researcher, teacher, etc. This allows more students to participate in the presentation and learn about different opportunities in nursing.
Dress in the clothing you normally wear while in your nursing role.
Also bring props for your presentation to show students. These could include special clothing such as a lab coat, suit jacket, scrubs, etc., instruments or other materials nurses use during the day.
For example, you may bring a suit jacket, pad of paper and tape recorder for a “nurse journalist,” a lab coat, test tube and petri dish for a “nurse researcher,” and scrubs and stethoscope for a “clinician.”
Once in the classroom, involve students in your presentation.
If you have completed three “Am I a nurse?” worksheets, ask three students volunteers to stand beside you at the front of the class. Provide each student with one of your “Am I a nurse?” worksheets as well as the props that reflect their roles as a “nurse.” Ask that the student wear the clothing and other props and read your description, if possible.
After each student has finished reading, let the students respond “yes” or “no” to the last question on the worksheet, “Am I a nurse?” Next, respond to the students’ answers. If they answered “yes,” ask them how they knew he or she was a nurse. Use this as a time to describe the job, why you enjoy being a nurse and how nurses are important. If the answer is “no,” ask them the reasons for their answer. This is a great opportunity to describe the many roles nurses play, your level of education, etc.
Students may be interested to know that nurses can be involved in a wide range of specialties—mother/baby, emergency, mental health, cancer, operating room and recovery, patient and family education, pediatrics, school nursing, home health and more! They may also want to know that a degree in nursing can lead to many different careers including patient care, teaching, journalism, business, sales and marketing, law, government, etc.
By using this simple presentation, you and other nurse colleagues will be able to teach students:
How nurses help people.
The variety of roles nurses play.
Why they should consider nursing.
Both men and women can be nurses.
The interesting instruments and devices nurses use during the day.
What nurses wear to work.
Communicating this information to children helps them understand that nurses are helping people everyday.
In closing you might tell the classroom:
“Nurses are men and women who work in hospitals, schools, businesses, doctor’s offices, homes and labs. Some nurses teach at universities, see their own patients or start businesses. They have a lot of choices!”
“In school, nurses learn about science and what makes people healthier. Then they use what they have learned to improve health care. This makes them very important people. Maybe you should be a nurse when you grow up!”
Developed by Maryanne E. Bezyack, RN, MSN, CPN, of MEB Communications