January 17, 2010
By Suzanne Hoholik
Travis Minzler had long thought about becoming a nurse, but the economy finally pushed him to do it.
He had been laid off twice and took a buyout once during his more than 15 years as a production manager at manufacturing companies.
I came to the point where I wasnt happy doing what I was doing, said Minzler, 41.
The Gahanna resident quit his job with an autosupply company in late 2008 and enrolled last January in Mount Carmel College of Nursings second-degree program. The program allows people who already have degrees Minzler has a bachelors in business management to get a bachelor of nursing degree in 13 months.
The demand to get into it and other nursing programs across the state is high because many industries have cut jobs, but health care is growing.
From 2001 to 2009, healthcare jobs increased 19 percent in Ohio and 25 percent in Franklin County, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. By contrast, Ohio lost 23 percent of manufacturing jobs during that period.
Health-care services looks like its continuing to grow, said George Zeller, a Cleveland-based economic research analyst. If I was just getting out of high school or in college or something, its a really good bet on an industry to go into.
But its neither cheap nor easy. Tuition for Mount Carmels accelerated program is $29,448, and faculty members recommend that students not work while in school. We say, For 13 months, youre pretty much going to give us your life, said Ann E. Schiele, president of the college.
Minzler, whos married and has two young sons, tightened his family budget and borrowed money to pay for his schooling.
In Minzlers class, 185 people applied, 127 were qualified, 64 were accepted and 62 will graduate Jan. 29.
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio projects that Ohio will be one of three states, along with Texas and California, with the greatest need for nurses in a decade because of aging baby boomers. Researchers expect Ohio to be short 32,000 nurses by 2020.
With the projected shortage and two local hospital systems in the midst of large expansions, Minzler is betting hell have job security in nursing. He wants to work in oncology and has several family members who have cancer. His father recently died of the disease. I just saw what our family went through, and I think I can bring that experience with me, Minzler said.
Life experiences such as his, along with having been in the work force for years, are advantages secondcareer students have over those just out of high school.
And their maturity might make them better advocates for their patients, said Jan Lanier, deputy executive officer of the Ohio Nurses Association. Its very easy in nursing to get swallowed up by the hierarchy. People who have been out in the world are less apt to fall into the trap than maybe a high school grad.
The U.S. has about 160 second-degree programs with varying time lengths, Schiele said. Prospective students at Mount Carmel are interviewed by faculty as part of the application process. I always tell entering students, You have to be an excellent student, but dont choose nursing unless you have a passion and concern for others, Schiele said. If not, then nursing is not the career for you.
Tracy King, 39, is one of 72 students who started the Mount Carmel program this month. The Berwick resident was a middle-school teacher for 10 years. When King was younger, she wanted to be a teacher or a nurse and chose teaching because the schedule worked better with her three young children. Now that theyre older, shes starting a second career.
Nursing is like teaching; youre communicating and teaching patients how to care for themselves, King said. I thought teaching would be best for the family at the time, and I love children; but nursing kept calling.
Former production manager Travis Minzler hopes becoming a nurse will provide some job security.