SM: So Casey, in the interest of transparency, I must share with our listeners that in my spare time, I’m a psychiatric nurse practitioner, and an instructor at the University of San Francisco’s School of Nursing and Health Professions. So what our – what our next guest is going to talk about is no surprise to me and as one might guess, I’m just a little prejudiced when it comes to our next guest and the program she’ll be talking about.
CH: Shane, that’s very good of you to be so above-board but it sounded a little like the disclaimer at the end of the Judge Judy show. [Laughs.] We are indeed very happy to have Ena Trevathan, MSN, RN, MBA, CNL and Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the University of San Francisco’s RN/MSN Online Nursing Program. That’s a mouthful! Ena, thanks so much for being with us today. First, tell us what brought you to the nursing profession and then on to teaching.
ET: Oh, wow! I have a family history here of nurses. I have another nurse – another sister who is a nurse, a brother who is a nurse, so I resisted becoming a nurse for a long time but I finally gave into it, and I just added to our family history of nurses. I think it’s a very honest profession; one that gives a lot, and also we do receive a lot from the audience and from the patients we take care of day-to day. And why I’m here with you today. It’s a pleasure to know Shane, and it is a pleasure to be able to talk about the University of San Francisco program. That I’m very, very proud of to be a member and to be able to be a director of our online program.
SM: Yeah, Ena. And it’s nice to have you with us as well. Let’s talk a little bit about the University of San Francisco. Of course, you and I know a lot about the traditions, the beautiful campus in the heart of San Francisco and the diverse community, but what sets USF apart from other universities. Is it, you know, we have a Jesuit mission, there’s a passion for justice, but how does that all shape the nursing programs?
ET: Let’s see. Besides the beautiful campus in the heart of San Francisco, what sets USF apart is the embracing of the Jesuit values. As you know, Jesuits have a long history of advanced academic excellence in the service of humankind. The mission of a Jesuit education is to educate students of all cultures, beliefs, and capabilities and also to inspire them to strive for social justice. So, in the classroom of a nursing program at USF, we compel and challenge our students to question, reason and explore new ideas. Our students, even the online ones, they become members of an inclusive community and that community is enriched by many, many perspectives. The University of San Francisco was named the number one college for minority students by Diverse Issues in Higher Education. We also earned a number eight ranking on US News and World Reports’ list of top universities for undergrads, of students of all ethnic backgrounds. The School of Nursing and Health Professions is the first private university of nursing program in the state. The School of Nursing and Health Professions is accredited by the California State Board of Registered Nursing, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The graduate of Nursing and Health Professions, I don’t know if everybody knows, was ranked in the top-40 best nursing programs in the nation by the US News and World Reports.
CH: That’s impressive.
ET: So, our nursing students learn how to apply skills and knowledge to the pressing challenges facing our healthcare system today and in the future.
CH: Ena, that is impressive when you talk about it, and what I particularly like about this is the Jesuit mission, and our Pope now, being a Jesuit, and is really transforming, and he is showing this mission that your college adheres to, he’s showing that on a daily basis, which I really love. So Ena, tell us about the online program and the advantages of pursuing a Master’s, especially for somebody like me, who’s been in nursing a long time, and I’m kind of interested in the online program. So, how would I get started? Do I need to have a BSN before I get into the Master’s program?
ET: No. The beauty of our program, and it’s something that we masterfully put together a few years ago, and that was also my Doctorate in Nursing Practice project at the University of San Francisco. I graduated from USF with my DNP by the way, so for – we will take a student with either a ADN degree – a two-year degree or a Bachelor’s Degree, and our program is specifically designed to accommodate the busy schedule of working nursing professionals such as yourself. A student can earn the Master’s in Nursing degree in as little as two years.
CH: And all of that’s online? You don’t have to go and
ET: That is online. So let me tell you a bit more about the program. It is asynchronous, so a working student can attend classes at any time. Our students learn by interacting with faculty members and classmates via email, video presentation, chat discussion, and we also throw in some synchronous sessions, so they can have an opportunity to interact virtually and be able to see each other and talk with the instructor and other students. So our online program participants receive the same level of high quality education, just like our on-grounds students. And this education is provided by the same experienced University faculty that they would get on campus. So, as you can see, we do foster a very high degree of interaction. Our students are also encouraged to nurture networking relationships with our alumni organization as well.
CH: So what are – I’m sorry, Shane. I didn’t mean to step on you, there. What are some of the statistics regarding salaries for a Master’s in Nursing versus your RN?
ET: Ok, as you can tell, in the State of California, because of our location, especially in the Bay Area, salaries tend to be a little higher, and our Nursing students or new grads are starting the ranges between $70,000 to $90,000, but that is not the wage for all across the nation. Since we are online, we have nursing students from across the State at this point, so the nursing salaries will vary by specialties as well as other factors, such as the area where that nurse has been practicing at, looking at the geographical areas, and looking at education. Also by having a Master’s Degree, it really helps increase the salary level. And another beauty of our program is that when our students graduate, before they even graduate, they are able to sit for the certification exam for the Clinical Nurse Leaders. Which is a plus, which is a bonus. A nurse with a certification after their name can earn an additional $7-plus per hour than a nurse without a certification.
SM: Yeah, and I have to say Ena, one thing, too, when I got my Master’s Degree, it helped me think in a different way. It helped me become a little more innovative, and I hate to use – I hate to use corporate terminology but kind of think outside of the box, so that now I kind of have cobbled together a couple of different things so that my income is higher than if I was just working at one job, and that – getting that Master’s Degree helped me kind of think along those lines. You had mentioned the CNL degree. Do you mind talking a little bit about what the CNL role is in an institution?
ET: Oh, I wouldn’t mind at all. I just want to clarify that the CNL is not a degree.
SM: Yeah. Thank you.
ET: The degree is a Master’s of Nursing Administration. The CNL is the certification portion, and our concentration for our program is in leadership, which is the clinical nurse leader. I just wanted to clarify that.
SM: Yeah, thank you.
ET: Uh, but I would love to talk a little bit more about our CNL, the Clinical Nurse Leader program at the University of San Francisco. As you know, that – this role is a Master’s prepared role. So this nurse is – this nurse will become a nurse generalist, who would assume accountability for healthcare outcomes, and it could be of a specific group of patients within a unit or setting. And this is achieved through the assimilation and application of research-based information. And what they learn to do is to design, implement and evaluate patient outcomes at the point of care. So, this is a new and it’s an emerging role. And this is a national initiative. And this was in response to patient care needs in the current healthcare delivery environment. So, for us, we see the CNL as a provider and a manager of care. He or she will design, implement and evaluate the care by coordinating, delegating and supervising the care provided by the healthcare team, including licensed nurses, technicians and other healthcare professionals.
CH: Gotcha. Ena, so I have a question for you. Well first off, I wanted to say, as an RN who’s been an RN forever and does not have a Master’s Degree. Another reason to go and get your Master’s Degree is the learning and what Shane says is it does give you a different perspective. It does broaden your scope and it does let you think outside of – because, you know, people like myself – you get very much in a rut in your thinking in nursing, and this gives you new challenges. So can you tell me a little bit more about how you sign up, how you log on, where you get more information?
ET: Oh, for sure. You could go to usfca.edu, and another way you could get that information strictly about the online program, it’s onlinemsn.usfca.edu, and you will be able to log on straight to our online program and get all the information about our program and how to apply, how much it costs, and you could also look at a curriculum pattern to see how our courses are laid out. We have the foundational courses, the core courses, etc., so it gives you a very nice overview of our program, how long it would take you if you want to go a little slower, or if you want to follow the pattern that we have designed for two years, or that is available at onlinemsn.usfca.edu.
SM: Yeah, and I have to say, too, Ena, that this is my own little plug here. You know, going to – I went to USF and now I teach there and I’m getting my doctorate there and, you know, I did my prereqs at City College of San Francisco. Before that, I really had no sort of spiritual following whatsoever, and I really was concerned about going to a private, Catholic university, and one thing that I’m still struck with is the way that the University weaves the Jesuit values into the curriculum regardless of your spiritual beliefs. It turns into a service learning component, and not so much of a theological component. It’s really evident there. I know it sounds cheesy, but I hope our listeners know that coming from me that I wouldn’t say something like that unless it hadn’t had some sort of profound impact on my values and ethics.
CH: And I gotta say, Shane, it’s one of the things that draws me because I went to Catholic school for twelve years and of course, said I would never go back, but when it comes to this Jesuit program and as evidenced by our new and wonderful Pope, I have to say that service thing is great, so we have talked about getting more money when you get your Master’s, but to me that’s not the biggest and most important part. It’s about service and it’s about broadening your horizons and for somebody like me who has both parents who have dementia, the more that you learn, especially later in life, the more you stave off things like dementia. So there’s another benefit to going to this program.
ET: [Laughs.] Well, you know, let me add a little bit to that, as well. And like you said, it’s about broadening your own horizons. It’s not just about the money. The money’s nice, but it’s about the service that you are providing to a community and also to the nation at large wherever one of our graduates may land and provide services. You know, we become the holder of the patient’s story. You know, we are the ones – we are there to connect the dots. You know, providing continuity of care for our patients. And we are there 24/7 for our patients. This really – by using evidence-based practice, we are trying to provide the best care that we can to our public and to our patient populations, so I think that’s worth a lot, especially in the state of our healthcare system right now. And we will help to provide – to open care for many, many individuals out there who do not have access to healthcare. So nursing is the backbone of the healthcare system.
CH: Well, Ena, thank you so much for your time. We’ve run out of time but we’d love to have you back on at a later time to talk more about this because it’s a fascinating subject. So I want to thank you –
ET: Thank you so much. I appreciate it
SM: Yeah, thanks Ena. Good to talk to you again
CH: Thank you. So we’ve been talking with Ena Travathan, the Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the University of San Francisco’s RN/MSN Online Nursing Program.