How to attract more nurses I have my associate's degree...


May 19, 2001

How to attract more nurses

I have my associate's degree with all of the nursing prerequisites, graduated with a 3.9 GPA and have a very strong desire to be in nursing school. So why am I not excited by the scholarship program local hospitals are offering ("Nurses are lured with scholarships," May 7)?

Because, although these scholarships will help current nursing students, they will do very little to attract new students.

The key to easing the nursing shortage is to get more students into the programs. This can be done by making two changes.

The colleges should change their system for determining financial need. The major flaw with the current method is that financial aid officials base their calculations of financial need on the student's earnings in the previous year. Calculations should be based on the earnings expected once a student is enrolled in a rigorous program such as nursing.

If calculations of need could factor in the wages lost while one is a full-time student, more students could qualify for financial aid and would have the opportunity to enter the nursing programs.

The six hospitals participating in this scholarship program are not actually increasing nursing school enrollment, because they are simply pre-hiring the nursing students who are already enrolled.

Thus the hospitals should change their focus to seek out students not yet in nursing clinicals.

I realize that putting money into first-year students is more risky. But this could be made safer by making the scholarship opportunities available only to those students who have shown academic excellence in pre-clinical coursework.

The scholarships could also be a form of sponsorship, in which the student would be obligated to work for the hospital for a specified period of time upon completion of the program.

If the student drops out of the program at any time or falls to fulfill his or her term of service, he or she would be required to pay back the money the hospital invested.

This would be a secure investment for the hospital and would lure more students into the nursing programs.

Melinda S. Whittemore, Relay

Musicians can't be so easily replaced

As a musician who has been with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for more than 20 years, I believe Tim Smith's glib comments at the end of his article "BSO takes steps to pick a new `leader'" (May 8) were hurtful and are a terrible disservice to both BSO musicians and our community.

Fifty-five players in the Baltimore Symphony have 20 or more years of service; 23 of them have 30 or more years. Most of the musicians who become members of our orchestra make a life-long commitment not only to this orchestra but to the Baltimore community.

We buy our homes, raise our families, pay our taxes and share our talents through teaching and performances in Baltimore and the surrounding counties.

I think there is great value in the contributions of players who have these long careers and make a solid contribution to our ensemble. They have worked hard and endured years of sacrifice to bring the orchestra to the level of performance we all enjoy today.

Mr. Smith suggests that the possible removal of some musicians is worth any hurt feelings, heated tempers and anxieties suffered, as we work to achieve an even more valuable artistic product.

This, along with his closing statement that an uplifting performance will "assuage" the loss a musician feels when he or she no longer has a musical home, demonstrates a callousness on Mr. Smith's part that I'm sure my colleagues on stage and my friends in the audience do not share.

Mary Carroll Plaine, Baltimore

The writer is principal librarian for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Better schools are real issue

I read with great frustration The Sun's articles on efforts by Baltimore business leaders to find a position to enable James Apicella, the long-time partner of Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Carmen Russo, to move to the Baltimore area ("Job sought for schools chief's friend," April 25 and "High-powered help mobilized in job search," April 26).

Efforts such as those to help Mr. Apicella move to Baltimore are certainly not uncommon at high levels of the private sector. They are often the norm when bringing executives to a new venue.

The Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) asks that both sides be given a full hearing before judgments are made. More than that, we ask The Sun and the public not to lose focus on the good work Ms. Russo has done in just 10 months in Baltimore.

She has brought stability, structure and a new energy to our school system. Her enthusiasm, commitment and insights are refreshing and encouraging. Her leadership and partnership with the BTU helped keep Westport Elementary-Middle School part of the Baltimore system after it was slated for reconstitution.

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