Healthcare workers have been on the front lines and in the headlines for the past year, inspiring all of us, and some of us more than others.
“We are seeing more people go to medical school because of the Fauci effect, and I think we are seeing more people apply to nursing programs because of all the depictions of nurses as heroes,” said Mary Allen Glasgow, dean of Duquesne University’s School of Nursing.
Like many nursing programs around the country, Duquesne’s has seen a dramatic increase in its enrollment during this pandemic.
“We are seeing a real increase, probably almost 30 percent in applications, and that is in traditional nursing program,” said Glasgow.
In addition to increases in its traditional nursing program, Duquesne is also seeing an uptick in people applying and enrolling in its second-degree program that is geared toward those switching careers.
“I am very grateful I took the leap when I did,” said Maura Romano.
Romano pivoted careers at the very start of the pandemic, just before her industry in advertising and marketing saw a wave of layoffs.
“In a very unstable environment that we are in, I am in a very stable environment in so many ways,” said Romano.
A new career in nursing has now given Romano job security and a sense of service she never had before. However, she admitted, training to be a nurse in the middle of a pandemic hasn’t been easy.
“I have had to go back and back and think, ‘You are being called to do this and it will all work itself out,’” explained Romano. “That is literary day by day since having started the program in August.”
There are many people who have made a similar pivot into health care. Jobs in the industry grew about 11 percent during 2020, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs here to grow by 15 percent over the next decade. That is roughly 2.4 million new jobs. Experts say managers will make it a goal to hire a diverse workforce.
“Martin Luther King recognized health disparities and racial inequities as being one of the most inexcusable forms of racial injustice that we endure,” said Dr. Christopher Moore, who is the Dean of the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University.
Dr. Moore explained B.U. and other major institutions have begun removing barriers to entry, like the pre-graduate school exam known as the GRE, in an effort to encourage a more diverse pipeline of applicants in the healthcare field.
“The GRE presents a real barrier to people,” said Dr. Moore. "It is disproportionately powerful in its effect on racial and ethnic minorities.”
Dr. Moore, Glasgow, and Maura Romano think federal dollars could be put to help aid the cost barrier to enter the healthcare field so that more and diverse groups of people can transition to the growing opportunities in healthcare.