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One Approach to Solving Nursing Shortage; Fox Chase Cancer Center and The Girl Scouts Partner to Promote Oncology Nursing Careers

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA -- The United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that an estimated 2.8 million nurses will be needed in 2020. However, only 2,001,998 are forecast to be available. What can healthcare institutions do to ensure that a future nursing shortage does not affect their ability to provide patients with excellent care? These questions among many others surrounding the shortage will be addressed at the 29th annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress. Nursing career specialist, Maureen Mullin, RN, BSN, OCN, at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pa., offers advice and expert suggestions on how to combat the potential impact of a nursing shortage.

"Lack of exposure to oncology nursing may be one of the impediments in selecting this field as a career choice," explained Mullin. "Healthcare institutions are not the only ones who are aware or concerned about the future of nursing. At Fox Chase, we have joined forces with those groups looking to help and have explored unique tactics to educate and open the minds of students - our future."

The Girl Scout's Nursing Exploration Patch, first developed by the North Carolina Center for Nursing, encourages junior, cadette and senior girl scouts to discover the variety of career choices available within the nursing profession. Participating scouts will learn about the responsibilities of nurses, the educational requirements needed to peruse this field and general health and wellness information. To obtain their patch, scouts must complete activities within five categories - career exploration, educational lessons, skill builders, service projects and technology.

An all-day program for the Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Girl Scouts was planned, implemented and evaluated by a committee of Fox Chase nurses. Scouts were taught about disease prevention through the importance of sunscreen and safety in the sun, proper hand washing techniques, and enjoyed observational experiences in the perioperative areas including emergency care on a resuscitation manikin.

"This was a positive experience for the scouts, their parents and our nurses," said Mullin. "It was multi-beneficial in that it provided a good memory for all involved, publicity to the hospital and nurses, and allowed participating Fox Chase nurses to share their passion to with the scouts who were excited and receptive to the information."

End of the day evaluations showed an increased interest in pursuing the profession of nursing. Fox Chase Cancer Center was the first institution in the Philadelphia area to complete this program.

"Through our partnership with the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania, we were able to provide a closer, more hands on look at the profession of oncology nursing," said Mullin. "This was not just about aiding Fox Chase in the future, but about elevating the nursing shortage as whole. There are so many opportunities in nursing that I would not be surprised if we saw these same students in area hospitals twenty years from now."

Mullin is among the staff of Fox Chase nurses who, in 2000, were recognized for excellence with the Magnet Award. At Fox Chase, nurses not only specialize in oncology, but further concentrate within a particular field, allowing them to provide the most up-to-date treatment.


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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