The Nursing Workforce Exposure Luncheon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is a free, semiannual event for anyone interested in learning about a nursing career at CHOP.

Two female clinical nurses Clinical nurses Kelley Wolcott, RN (L) and Tanya McKenzie, RN (R), work in CHOP's Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit. Hosted during winter and summer breaks, this event on CHOP’s Main Campus targets local high school and college students, as well as adults who have gone back to school to pursue a second career in nursing.

The luncheon offers students an opportunity to meet nursing professionals and learn about the various facets of a nursing career. Denise Coan, BSN, event organizer, is a 32-year CHOP veteran who began her career as a nurse before transitioning into recruitment three years ago.

“We want students to know what it’s like to be a CHOP nurse,” says Coan. “They can enter the field as a nurse resident and then branch out into so many different areas.”

A diverse workforce

As the United States faces a predicted nursing shortage, this interesting and flexible field offers an open career path with many projected job openings — during a time when other fields hold few options.

Coan says that the goal of the luncheon is to educate students about the different facets of nursing and to continue to build a diverse nursing workforce at CHOP. “The idea is to engage kids from all different backgrounds and experiences and have them begin to consider nursing as a career,” she says.

To this end, Coan focuses her recruitment efforts first on CHOP employees whose children may be interested in attending, and then on local high schools and community colleges in the Philadelphia area. Many of these students come from low-income areas and may worry about the cost of a college education.

Coan and members of CHOP’s nursing staff talk to students about the different educational avenues available, including those that can make a nursing degree more affordable. Students struggling to pay for college at a four-year institution might consider earning an associate degree from a community college before pursuing their bachelor’s. “You can do it in pieces,” says Coan.

First-hand experience

The Nursing Workforce Exposure Luncheon has grown in popularity over time and can host 70 to 100 students. The event begins with a general introduction to CHOP, and then nurses from a variety of clinical areas (general floors, intensive care, emergency department), as well as paramedics and post-anesthesia recovery nurses, give short presentations about their experiences. Many nurses come back each year to present, enjoying the opportunity to engage students learning about the nursing profession.

By the end of the three-hour event, the students have experienced a first-hand introduction to many different facets of nursing, which Coan ultimately hopes will increase their understanding of the field as they consider future careers.

Next Steps

You Might Also Like
Diabetes team staff and family

Support for the Diabetes Team

Community health workers work with families to help them overcome social challenges.

All-In Basketball group photo

Using Basketball to Boost Brains

If you want to engage teenagers — especially teenage boys — start with basketball.

Family at food pharmacy

Food Pharmacy Is Just What the Doctor Ordered

CHOP’s Healthy Weight Food Pharmacy serves up nutritious groceries and health education to food-insecure families.