Lauren Shipton wanted something other than a career as a professional dancer on the Strip. With a passion for caretaking and physiology, nursing seemed like the ideal fit.
When Shipton, 36, joined the UNLV School of Nursing in 2017, she was attracted to its accelerated bachelor’s degree program and hands-on training at University Medical Center.
“I loved the program so much,” she said. “The teachers and administration here are all amazing and are super involved in student success.”
That success is being recognized nationally.
The UNLV program received one of the top accolades for nursing schools in the country last week, joining nine others named centers of excellence by the National League for Nursing, a leading professional organization for educators in nursing.
“It’s one of the few awards that looks at the teaching capacity of a school as a whole,” said Angela Amar, the nursing school’s dean. “It does say we’re excellent; it also says we have really good teachers, and that’s what matters.”
Amar said the school wants to expand its undergraduate program. This fall, it welcomed 216 students, a 50% increase from 2017.
By 2026, employment opportunities for registered nurses will see a 15% increase, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Shipton has one more semester remaining in the 16-month program. She hopes to get into the nursing school’s graduate program, with aspirations of becoming a trauma nurse.
“When you’re getting a master’s or doctorate in nursing, you are becoming a more advanced caretaker as well as a practitioner that can dispense medication,” she said. “You’re not just treating what the person has but also looking at their lifestyle and how they wound up in your care.”
At UNLV, Shipton said, she is able to get that hands-on experience. Just weeks after she started the program, she was already at the hospital interacting with patients — one of the perks of being a UNLV student.
“It’s terrifying but great,” she said. “We have really good ties with hospitals here.”