Mona Clayton is Recruiting 100,000 Nurses

Profiles in Nursing

Mona Clayton is Recruiting 100,000 Nurses

Introducing the profession to underserved communities

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Some people look at an issue and do nothing. Others have a gift for analyzing and then solving those same problems. Mona Clayton is of the latter type. Like most in the profession, Clayton has been aware for some time of the nursing shortage. When she heard that the passage of the Affordable Care Act would greatly increase the number of patients seeking care, she did not just wring her hands — she developed a grassroots plan that may help to increase the numbers of nurses.

Reaching Out

Recalling her own experience as a single mother, a woman of color and a person who previously had poorly defined career goals, Clayton decided to reach out to people like her, people who, if they think of nursing at all, think of it as an unattainable goal. She understands the reasons because she used to believe many of them herself: that pursuing a career in nursing costs too much, takes too much time, can’t be done with young children, can’t be done if you aren’t academic and so on.     

Clayton proved herself wrong and has set out to prove to anyone who will listen that nursing is an achievable profession and one that offers unparalleled satisfaction. Nursing is also, she is quick to point out, a profession that offers job security and financial independence.

Education Defines You
Clayton’s approach is two-pronged. First, she wrote a book, From Student to Nurse: Surviving the Journey as Painlessly as Possible, in which she describes her own experiences as a student and offers helpful hints to others who are struggling.

The second aspect of Clayton’s effort is a series of appearances and seminars targeting anyone who might consider nursing as a career, especially single parents and candidates who do not necessarily have unlimited resources for tuition, living expenses, books and the like. Her message is, “Your neighborhood does not define you. Your education defines you.”

Sharing Their Stories
At a recent seminar in Inglewood, Calif., Clayton drew a large crowd of nursing students and interested young people. The panel of speakers of which she was a part was particularly suitable for her purposes in that each member had become a nurse under less-than-ideal circumstances. All of the speakers had had to support themselves and children during the process, sometimes without any help. All of the speakers emphasized the point that if you don’t give up, if you persevere, you, too, could become a nurse.

In addition to Clayton’s story, Nisha Mandalia, BSN, and Andrea Maxwell, BSN, both from Kaiser Permanente, spoke of the difficulty of attending nursing school while caring for young children; Lorna Thompson, MSN, of Los Angeles Southwest College, talked about slowly but surely earning each additional degree while working full time; and Melody Hoggro-Harvey, RN, from County of Los Angeles Women’s Hospital, spoke about the realities of working as a nurse when staff is short and hours are long. The overriding impression given by all the panelists was that nursing is a deeply satisfying profession that offers many options and will never bore you.

Looking Ahead

Clayton currently works in ambulatory medical-surgical nursing, but she is also pursuing a degree in business, which she hopes to combine with her nursing education. She is the CEO and publisher of Nurses Roc 2 Publishing and regularly schedules speaking events throughout the United States.

Clayton’s goal is to lead 100,000 people like herself into nursing. She hopes that these candidates will, like Clayton herself, pursue an education not just for themselves, but for their families and the good of their communities.   

Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN, is a Working Nurse staff writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.

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