On Campus: The nurse

cut_lucy.jpgA bad economy takes away, and a bad economy gives back. Lucy Elmbald of Osceola, Wisconsin is going to be a nurse, a profession which is in short supply, and for which there’s a waiting list. She’s been meeting the academic requirements to get into Century College’s nursing program.

Up until 2007, nursing wasn’t in her future. That’s when Anderson Windows permanently laid her and about 500 others off. “It was, ‘OK, here’s a struggle, here’s a bump in the road. You have to just come up with some ideas and figure where to go after that,” she said.

“At 32 years of age, thinking that Anderson was the promised land, it was almost a blessing because now I can get my degree and move on with life. Otherwise I’d be a manufacturer until I was 60 or 65 and I wasn’t looking forward to that. When I was let go from Anderson, my husband looked at me and said, ‘it’s either law or it’s medical, which one do you want?'”

Up until recently, nursing seemed a recession-proof career. But “right now, people go to hospitals and clinics, they’re going because of an emergency,” she said. They’re putting off other procedures to save cash and that’s requiring fewer nurses.

Elmbald doesn’t see the overall economy picking up for 5 or 10 years. “It’s slim pickings out there and that’s why people are going back to school,” she said. “Every day is a struggle. Until I get my degree, I don’t know where things are going to go but I am bound and determined, even if I’m living in a cardboard box, to get this done.”

  • http://www.hearthtohearth.org Scot Harvey

    I went back to school to become a nurse in 2003 when my job was outsourced to Mexico. The hospital where I work now, said that they will try not to layoff nurses but they didn’t say that they wouldn’t cut our hours.