Interesting story:

Madison Runland learned that there is more to nursing than passing pills and following the doctor's orders during a nursing camp last week at Briar Cliff University.

The Guthrie Center High School senior, who has wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember, pressed the shiny stainless steel end of a stethoscope against a medical manikin's chest as it rose and fell. Four of her peers, who were crowded around a hospital bed tucked in the corner of a classroom at the Sioux City college, watched intently as a monitor beeped overhead.

"I've always liked to help people since I was little," Runland said. "And my grandma is a nurse."

During the three-day camp, participants, who traveled from as far away as Arizona, took vitals, viewed a cadaver, toured Mercy Medical Center and learned about alternative therapies, such as aroma therapy and meditation.

Assistant professor of nursing Traci Holmquist said flexibility, good communication skills and the willingness to be a life-long learner are attributes that are essential to succeeding in nursing.

"Nursing changes every day and people that aren't willing to learn and try new things will not last long in the profession," she said.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, from 2005 to 2010 the number of full-time nurses grew by 386,000. In spite of this growth, Holmquist said a "huge" shortage of nurses will persist as waves of Baby Boomers age.

"They can do whatever, wherever they want. Nursing is not just bedside care," she said. "They can work in any area of health care that they choose to."

A lot of nursing students, Holmquist said, are drawn to specialty areas such as labor and delivery or intensive care. She said students should concentrate on general medicine first to build their foundational skills.

James Ferdig, of Ponca, Neb., who will be a freshman at Briar Cliff in the fall, said he hopes to one day work in an emergency room or ICU.

"It's something different every day," said Ferdig, who gained nursing experience while working at a nursing home in Emerson, Neb. "I like the patient interaction and getting to help people."