With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges, the demand for qualified nursing staff will increase, especially in the Las Vegas area. It is that demand that pulled retired nurse Dian Ward back into the workforce. She is currently the nursing director at Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada, a volunteer-based clinic that provides health care to the working uninsured and underemployed people in the Las Vegas area.
When Ward moved to Las Vegas in 2009, she was settling in to enjoy her retirement. But after 43 years of working, she found it difficult to slow down, so she began volunteering as a nurse at Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada in 2010.
What made you decide to become a nurse?
“It was really all I ever wanted to do. I went to school to be an RN and then continued on to get my bachelor’s in education and a master’s in education. I then spent 28 years working as a school nurse in a high school. I loved working with teenagers and part of my job was to fill in the gaps for kids with special needs. I helped teachers understand the physical and emotional challenges these kids were having, creating a more successful outcome for the student and the teacher.”
How do you think the Affordable Care Act will affect health care and nursing?
“I’m really not sure. At this point, it is really not clear what the thresholds will be and if people will be able to afford the coverage. Most people our clinic serves work and are in a situation where they may have to choose between food and a trip to the doctor. There is still probably going to be huge gap of people who just can’t afford doctor visits. Our clinic is there to provide care to people before they reach the level of needing costly hospitalization.”
What advice would you give to someone looking at a career in nursing?
“You must have compassion and want to help people. It also helps to be able to interact and work with people. Nurses are usually the ones bridging the gap between doctors and patients, so you need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions and counsel patients.”
“Volunteer in a health care setting while completing your coursework so you can get the lay of the land and figure out where you want to spend your career in nursing. The Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada clinic takes volunteers of all levels, as long as you pass a background check.”
Christa Emmer is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in broadcast journalism. She has experience as a news writer, editor and producer in television news. Christa has been a Las Vegas resident for more than 20 years. Follow her on twitter @ChristaEmmer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.