Monopoly for Nurses

There never seems to have been a lack of recruitment efforts to counteract the national nursing shortage. From bridge opportunities established by nursing schools to nursing “camps” and shadowing programs offered by healthcare facilities, recruitment methods have varied in their attempts to not only quicken the education process but showcase the “glamorous” side of the profession.

But when Connie Wilson, LPN, a member of the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing, a group that helps develop innovations to improve nursing education, practice and research, came up with the idea to create a Nurseopoly board game as a way to promote the field, she had a hard time believing someone hadn’t beaten her to it.

After all, she had already been exposed to numerous variations of the “opoly” brand that had been cropping up in malls and shopping centers for years. From Americaopoly and Irishopoly to Civil Waropoly and even a game for Elvis, all circles of real life and pop culture seem to be covered. So, if “The King” could have one, why not nurses, she figured.

“I just couldn’t stop thinking about it,” said Wilson, who’s also founder and vice chair of the LPN Forum of the New Jersey State Nurses Association. “Before I knew it, it was a real project that I was thinking about and modifying every day.”

Every day, it seemed, over the next 2 years.

Not Just a Game

Today, Nurseopoly is a reality. Manufactured by Pride Distributors Inc., a Michigan-based company that specializes in creating personalized “opoly” games, Nurseopoly went through its first production run to coincide with the annual convention of the New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) this spring. Wilson, who works full time as the discharge nurse at St. Francis Medical Center, Trenton, NJ, has a copyright pending and has begun selling the game through the Internet and email.

Much like the traditional Monopoly game, the object of Nurseopoly is to purchase nursing “properties” in an attempt to become the wealthiest nurse in the business. However, each player’s wealth is assessed largely by how much education he’s received and how many professional nursing organizations in which he invests.

Of the 28 spaces for purchase that appear on the board, 18 are either education-based or represent membership in a professional organization. The most lucrative spaces (those positioned as Monopoly’s Boardwalk and Park Place) are reserved for buying a doctorate of nursing practice program and master’s of science in nursing program, respectively. Likewise, Monopoly’s highly identifiable railroad station spaces are devoted to buying into an educational ladder that begins with an LPN program and progresses to an RN diploma program, ADN program and BSN program. Other properties include accrediting bodies such as the Joint Commission and Magnet as well as healthcare service entities including the American Red Cross and CDC.

“I see it as a game, a marketing tool and an educational tool,” Wilson said. “As nurses, we always talk about developing new ways of recruiting youths into the nursing profession, and I thought this was perfect.”

The game also promotes the profession through the drawing of “Fate” and “Community Service” cards that mimic Monopoly’s “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards. The community angle in both games is very similar, in which players are rewarded for displaying community service or are required to perform civic duties; but where Chance cards often assume risks to one’s finances, Fate cards tend to lead to monetary awards in recognition of passing challenge exercises.

GAMERS: Connie Wilson, LPN (left), and Judith Rottkamp, MA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, exhibit their Nurseopoly age at the annual New Jersey State Nurses Association convention in Atlantic City, NJ. Photo by Joe Darrah

The Fate questions are related to rapid response in the hospital and providing reconciliation,” Wilson said. “They’re designed to be educational and to let participants know the opportunities that are out there for them.”

For instance, one Fate card rewards a player for proper handwashing while another pays for completion of annual contact hours. Continuing education is also represented where Monopoly’s “Free Parking” corner appears, where Nurseopoly players instead are given free CE. Unlike the traditional game, “Jail” does not exist on any Nurseopoly corner; however, “Court” does, and if a player rolls wrongly he can also find himself heading “Back to School.”

Although the game is won by the player who accumulates the most property and avoids bankruptcy, Wilson assures the goal of the game remains to educate nurses of all experience levels rather than promote the proliferation of wealth.

“You’re still trying to make the most money that you can, but there’s a definite focus on education,” she explained. “Instead of buying real estate you’re buying into an education or nursing-related entities.”

Real-Life Profits

While she does hope to capitalize on her idea and earn a profit in the future, Wilson said this is not an immediate goal. She’s more concerned with seeing the popularity of the game unfold than she is with making a profit.

She and fellow St. Francis nurse Judith Rottkamp, MA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, who also served as a legal and creative advisor for the game, raised the $7,500 needed to fund the initial production order out of pocket and through sponsors including NJSNA, LPN Forum and NJSNA Institute of Nursing.

Wilson said other potential sponsors expressed interest at the NJSNA convention. She’s optimistic this will generate additional revenue, which is expected to be shared with NJSNA and the Institute of Nursing, and allow for her to develop future editions.

“We’re currently in negotiations with new sponsors and plan to market the game across the country,” Wilson said. “We’ve developed a price list for different board spaces and have circulated that to interested parties, and we expect to have additional sponsors for our next edition.”

Wilson said she may target future editions of the game to specific nurse groups.

“We hope to eventually personalize the game further, for instance, one to students as a reference guide for the NCLEX.”

She said she also looks to modify game play. The current edition is played with generic pawns designed by the manufacturer. But Wilson envisions future editions to include healthcare-specific pieces such as a thermometer, wheelchair, bedpan, cane and bed to give it more of a nursing feel.

But other than making a few modifications, Wilson said she’s extremely pleased with the product.

“I’m actually very proud of it,” she said. “I’ve received a lot of kudos and positive feedback on it. Nursing is a great profession that’s grown immensely. The educational levels are increasing. This game is a nice tribute to that, and that’s exactly what I wanted it to be.”

The game sells for about $35 through the Institute of Nursing ($25 if purchased through email orders at Wilson said she expects the second production run to by the fall.

Joe Darrah is senior associate editor at ADVANCE.

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