Dr. Julia Canipe

By Lois Thomson

In her role as Nursing Program Director at South University College of Nursing and Public Health, Dr. Julia Canipe isn’t too concerned about trying to recruit nursing students. As she explained, “I don’t have to encourage them to become a nurse, because they come here to be a nurse, that decision was already made.”

She said students who come to the college have made that choice long before they apply to a nursing program – perhaps something happened in their lives that turned them in that direction, or they learned something about the profession when they were young and decided that’s what they wanted to do. “We just continue to foster their desire to become the best nurse they can be.”

Dr. Canipe stressed, however, that even though applicants are confident about their choice of career, they are still likely to encounter obstacles along the way. She said, for example, “Studying in the nursing program is not like any other discipline. It requires an overhaul of your study skills, of priorities, of your life management.” For that reason, she said much time is spent supporting the students in managing their responsibilities.

“Nursing is not a side hustle. They are fully emerged in schooling, and it overtakes their lives.” She said it’s a challenge because the students are different ages and come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Some are single parents; some students must work to be able to support themselves. “All of these obstacles vastly interfere. Our job is to be supportive, provide resources for them, teach them how to manage and fit nursing into life.”

Dr. Canipe said that while the pandemic did not impact enrollment at the College of Nursing, it nevertheless turned everything upside down. “Nursing schools had to operate under unprecedented circumstances as we couldn’t send students to a clinical site and provide them with practical experiences.” She said a large part of becoming a nurse is having practicum at the bedside, working with instructors, learning hands-on skills, developing critical thinking, and having overall exposure to the profession. “When that part was removed, nursing academia was challenged on how to educate nurses without providing that environment.”

She did, however, discover a bright side to the pandemic. “The silver lining that I’ve seen post-pandemic in nursing education is that clinical sites are embracing us. They are welcoming to students; they are going the extra mile to accommodate our clinical experiences – even when they are very short staffed. We have a great variety of clinical sites and resources, and work closely with health care agencies, acute care facilities, and the department of health.” She said something else that came out of the pandemic is a greater appreciation of the role of nurses – what they do and how a shortage of nurses can affect society.

She added that everyone has to work as a team to educate nursing students and graduate nurses, and in saying that she can speak from her own experience. Dr. Canipe said she was raised to pursue education from an early age, and she knew that as a Doctor of Nursing Practice she could make a difference and continue her passion for nursing education.

“Education doesn’t stop at completion of one degree, and that’s what we’d like to foster within our students.” She said every degree provides students with opportunities to open doors and reach potential they might have. “So, it’s important that some of us who are nurses go into academia, because without educating nurses, we won’t have a nursing workforce.”

In looking at the future of nursing, Dr. Canipe said she believes nursing education will be defined as pre-pandemic and post-pandemic. “Nothing that was done pre-pandemic has transferred into the post-pandemic time. Policies are different, priorities are different, curriculums are changing, clinical hours are changing. It’s a new world for us. I think change is at the core of nursing; it always has been, but we deal very well with change because it’s inherent to our profession, and we will continue to overcome obstacles whenever they come.”

She said her role changed as she is mostly focused on retaining those students who expressed a desire to become a nurse, but perhaps were not as prepared because of virtual classes they had to take. “So, my role is to provide students with resources and support and retain them in the program. We want to give students every opportunity to succeed and pursue their dream.”


For more information, call (855) 884-2408 or visit www.southuniversity.edu.