When society thinks of modern day heroes, the mind often thinks of the fireman, the policeman, and emergency doctors who are in the line of action on an everyday basis. But what of the nurse at the clinic or the hospital?

“[Being a nurse] is a special job, you’re with people at the best of times and the worst,” said Dixie Jamison, a nursing faculty member. “You’re there when they have their babies, you’re with them and their family as they die. There are no words to describe how special it is.”

However, there’s a shortage of these ‘everyday heroes’.

“Just in the state of Idaho, we have a nursing shortage projected to get worse and worse every single year,” Jamison said. “The jobs for nurses are not going away, if anything there’s more demand for them with an increased projected need for nurses at a national level.”

With a need for nurses in the workforce, faculty members like Jamison are encouraging students who are interested in making a difference in people’s lives to apply to the program.

Nursing lab at BYU-Idaho where students preparing to become nurses receive hands on experience.

Students that might be interested need to meet a few requirements the nursing department has to ensure that students who apply are committed to the ‘rigorous’ course load.

The nursing department asks that students take a preadmissions exam with at least a 75% passing rate, have a 3.0 GPA and have taken a few pre-requisite classes before applying.

Cammie Sauer, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences coordinator in the Academic Advising office said students do not need to have any particular major declared to be eligible to apply.

The nursing department feels there’s more to the application than just having a stellar transcript. They also look at what kind of medical or job experience you might have, and leadership opportunities you’ve had.

“Nursing is an interesting career that pulls from a wide variety of skills, not just how to take care of the human body,” Jamison said. “Oftentimes you feel like a counselor. We’re not, but you feel like it. You might feel like you’re a maid sometimes, or a secretary so really any work experience can help make better nurses.”

Jamison also explained that students who consider applying should prepare themselves for demanding course work. People’s lives are on the line. Nursing school is not easy because a nurse making a mistake can lead to a patient death or a major complication, but Jamison reminds that “even if it is difficult, it is worth it”.

By completing most general education requirements before going into the nursing program, Jamison noted that students can focus on course work better without feeling overwhelmed.

“You cannot help another person, or in this case patient, light their candle if your own candle isn’t lit,” Jamison said. “So by being emotionally and mentally prepared beforehand can help reduce stress with classes.”

Once accepted into the program, faculty with a real hospital or clinical experience are there to help students learn.

Three on campus clinical and simulation labs give students opportunities to have hands-on learning campus.

They focus on learning to do common medical practices like giving shots, taking blood pressure and even how to be a labor and delivery nurse with a birthing simulator.

Jamison added that students also learn more advanced skills for complicated patient situations like taking care of cardiac patients, participating in a mass-casualty disaster day, tracheostomy care, plus a wide variety of patient care simulations.

Every semester students do clinical work at hospitals with real patients where they practice techniques learned in class like proper care for specialty IV lines, managing a patient’s airways and administering high risk medications.

Near the final semesters in the program, students are given a capstone project where they must work 10 shifts with a one on one preceptorship —similar to an internship. Students work in various departments within hospitals or clinics and implement the skills they gained in school.

Jamison said the place where students work on their capstone project can result as their place of employment upon graduation. This allows the department to have a high rate of student-job placement.

Visit the BYU-I website for more information about the nursing program and how to apply.