Organization hosts convention to help nursing students network
Person of the Week
Nursing students on the East Coast may notice that securing jobs is harder than ever. But three Rutgers students are working to both advance their own careers and those of prospective nurses across New Jersey.
Stephanie Huang, Valine Bogue and Margarita Molodan are all on the board of directors for New Jersey Nursing Students, Inc., an organization that seeks to connect nursing students from across the state and introduce them to potential opportunities in the field.
The president, second vice president and resolutions director, respectively, spent months preparing for a massive convention in Atlantic City that Huang said attracts between 1,600 and 2,000 people and connects students with hospitals and guest speakers.
“Having all the students from New Jersey come together was really a big event, and was really eye-opening, getting to know what nursing really was about outside of the classroom,” said Huang, a College of Nursing senior.
The convention, which takes place every February, is an enormous venture. Fifty guest speakers are invited to talk about their fields, and NJNS organizes special discussions that allow attendees to explore specific areas of nursing.
Bogue, a College of Nursing senior at Rutgers-Newark, is responsible for coordinating large breakout sessions during the convention.
“Convention-goers can learn more about the important topics in nursing today or study tips for the [National Council Licensure Examination], which is our big exam we have to pass to become registered nurses,” she said.
Huang emphasized the convention’s ability to connect students with potential employers. It creates networking opportunities at a time when jobs are scarce in this part of the country and some students are even advised to move to other states in search of employment.
“It is a very competitive field because people stay in their field,” she said. “People don’t want to hire more nurses. That’s what’s going on along the East Coast.”
Many hospitals attend the conference, and Huang said she hopes to recruit more hospitals so they can interview perspective nurses.
“Personally, I got offered an externship because I went to the convention, because I was president and because I spoke to the nurse recruiters,” Huang said. “I got this opportunity by being at the convention.”
Bogue also procured an externship from a contact she met at the event, and she said she values the experience as a networking opportunity.
“We want [students] to be able to network, to be able to meet important people and to contact all these people that could help them in their future after they graduate,” she said. “It was a great way for me to really show that I care about the profession.”
The convention also allows students to connect with their peers from across New Jersey. Bogue said she first met Huang at the event two years ago, and the two have maintained a very close personal and professional relationship since.
Bogue stressed the importance of forming friendships with students from other universities and county colleges. She felt that the convention gave her a respite from occasionally overwhelming classes.
“It’s nice to be able to go to conventions and relax a little bit,” she said. “It’s a really hard major, which not a lot of people know about it. [I really got] a sense of empowerment about the nursing profession.”
NJNS does not solely focus on networking and building a sense of camaraderie. It is a state chapter of the National Student Nurses Association, and its members craft resolutions about advocacy and awareness that are sent to the national convention.
Last year, Huang wrote a resolution that detailed the need for greater awareness about the dangers of water pipe smoking, more commonly referred to as hookah. She said she was inspired by its widespread use around campus.
“I found that smoking hookah for 45 minutes, or second hand smoke for 45 minutes, is equivalent to smoking an entire pack of cigarettes,” Huang said. “We just made a statement to raise awareness so people could make an educated decision about what to do.”
Molodan currently works to assuage people’s fears about the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.
Many myths about the MMR vaccine exist, including that it causes autism. She said this is most definitely not true.
“[It] is a resolution that aims to educate and empower nursing students and the professionals they are working with about the importance of pediatric vaccination, most particularly the MMR vaccine,” said Molodan, a School of Nursing senior.
Like her two fellow board members, Molodan emphasized that the broad education she received at Rutgers allowed her to pursue a diverse array of opportunities.
“I hope to work in pediatric nursing, and my Rutgers education allowed me to have a wide range of both clinical experiences and extracurricular experiences which led to an externship program this previous summer,” she said.
Bogue was enthusiastic about the fact that hospital staff seemed to openly welcome Rutgers nursing students.
“They know that our education here at Rutgers really pushes us to do more than just what the registered nurse is going to do,” she said. “Even though it is really hard around here, the HR departments in the hospitals kind of put Rutgers a little bit higher on the list when it comes to jobs.”