ADN to MSN, A Student’s Perspective

With special guest online MSN Student Nicole Gee, this webinar was designed to give current ADN RN’s an understanding of what the online MSN program is like, and the opportunities for career development available with an MSN.

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LaTonya Boyce: Thank you for attending the University of San Francisco online Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Nurse Leaders certification program. My name is LaTonya Boyce, I’m part of your enrollment team we also have Jan Merlano who is also an enrollment advisor her today.

To get started some of the things we will discuss today is the well-designed well oriented curriculum. We have 2 enrollment periods on this program. Our rankings and reputation really speak for itself. Because we are ranked top 50 by US News and World Reports every year. And we also have an experience faculty that really represents our program very well.

Some of the highlights of our online MSN degree program is the course work is one hundred percent online. You can actually perform your clinical internships at a work setting close to home. There is no specific log in times or lectures. So that really helps with the flexibility that people want in an online program. It’s designed for associate’s degrees and Bachelor’s degree nurses. Also you can complete the program in as few as two years.

The Program is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges which is also known as WASC. The California Board of Registered Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education also known as CCNE.

With the USF MSN Program it prepares you for CNL certification. You are eligible to receive CNL certification prior to graduation. We are one of the few MSN programs approved by the AACN to provide students with specific leadership competencies. In addition these competencies are qualities that executives look for in hiring and promoting staff nurses.

Students who complete the program distinguish themselves of leaders of evidence based care improvement with having that CNL certification.

Today we do have a guest on our webinar, who I’m going to introduce. She is going to give a student’s perspective. Her name is Nicole Gee, she’s and RN and she is actually part of the graduating class of spring 2016. I’m going to introduce Nicole. Hi Nicole.

Nicole Gee:
Hello, good afternoon.

LaTonya Boyce: We’re so happy to have you here; I’m going to let you explain. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background, Nicole.

Nicole Gee: I am an associate’s degree educated nurse. I have my second career. I have a previous background in Television production and photography. After some family changes and health insurance I decided to go back to school. To accomplish my lifelong dream of becoming a nurse and was able to get into the California Lottery system for associate’s degree programs. I jumped on it as quickly as I could. After some hospital experience I’ve been working in outpatient oncology, which is my passion. I absolutely love what I’m doing.

LaTonya Boyce: That’s awesome Nicole. I just wanted to let the audience know, we are getting some questions in as we speak. If you have any questions during this live presentation on things that Nicole has to say. Please use the Q&A box or click on the Q&A button on the bottom of your screen. We will answer those questions at the end of the presentation. So feel free to send us your questions and we will answer as many questions as time will allow.

Nicole I do have some questions for you. Having qualified with an associate’s degree what made you choose and now undertake your MSN rather than apply for BSN?

Nicole Gee: There’s quite a few factors. Already going through and associate’s degree program and having really wonderful educators, they already set the stage saying It’s going to be important for you to get more education. And I did want to have a little bit of experience before I got into the program before I continued my education, kind of feel like I have something to bring to the program, and some professional experience. And as I was looking into different programs and seeing what UCs had to offer what private school’s had to offer, who was accredited who wasn’t I realized that with taking the MSN approach, I’m not only cutting out some wasted time with traditional state school settings but as requirements are advancing for nurses to have more education and be more well prepared; I realized that it was an excellent investment for my time to take the RN to MSN approach rather than straight to BSN. I could have more education in less time, which was very important to me.

LaTonya Boyles: Definitely makes sense I mean it’s great that you recognized that very early on Nicole, so why did you choose the University of San Francisco’s online MSN program?

Nicole Gee: There are a lot of reasons why, and that’s such a great question because University of San Francisco has a excellent reputation. They also have a brick and mortar nursing school with an excellent reputation so I know that the faculty is really well equipped. I’ve been involved with a youth group for many years, and one of the young people lived with us her last year of nursing school at USF. So I was able to see her curriculum. I was able to see USF’s commitment to community service and commitment to community involvement, her graduation was fantastic, I spoke with some of her professors. I was super impressed by all of it. On top of it the accreditation was really important. As I was looking for different career paths and wondering where I was going to be before I had gotten back into school, the accreditation is really important and knowing that USF has that is really invaluable.

There were a few other factors. I felt like because I’m an older student returning to school, I felt like I don’t’ have a lot of time to mess around. It’s very difficult to navigate the state school system, and hoping that your classes are available, hoping that you’re going to get in. Many student’s that I went to school with had waited years through the lottery system to get into a program and I knew, because my husband had also been to a school similar to USF, I knew that I wouldn’t have to fight my way through the program once I was accepted. It’s been nothing than an excellent experience from that stand point.

LaTonya Boyce: That’s awesome, so it sounds like reputation, faculty, the accreditation and then some of the things that you’ve also learned from others that you know really made and supported that decision, is that pretty much what you’re stating?

Nicole Gee: Absolutely.

LaTonya Boyce: Awesome, so now why did you choose a Clinical Nurse Leader focus?

Nicole Gee:
Well, honestly the Clinical Nurse Leader focus chose me. I had looked at different programs, had the desire to attend a program that could help me in a clinical nurse specialty for oncology and it was just not feasible to quit working to attend the school that had this program. So as I was researching I thought Ok, clinical nurse leader, it’s a nurse generalist program; it’s going to give me a broad scope of experience and exposure in the program. It sounds like this would be a good fit. It wasn’t really that I was looking for the CNL focus, but I am so very thankful that this is the program that I ended up in, because I realize that more than having a specialty I am working on my specialty through the oncology nursing society. There’s professional all that kind of stuff that I can get but having the Clinical Nurse Leader focus and the Generalist focus, is giving me a whole toolbox of resources for understanding how the health care system works, understanding my impact on the microsystem. Understanding more about cost and education for staff and quality, really seeing the bigger picture. It choose me but I’m very thankful that this is the avenue that I’ve taken with my education.

LaTonya Boyce: Excellent points Nicole, so with all of that being said have there been things that you’ve learned in the CNL program that you have already used with in your current role?

Nicole Gee: Yeah, I actually use the skills that I learn in class on a daily basis. From being able to have educated conversations with colleagues and with physicians. It’s given me a confidence that’s just completely invaluable. Part of the curriculum is going through the institute for health care improvement quality improvement basic curriculum and just knowing those elements. The way I take out medications, the way I’ve incorporated some improvements in my area already, little things, just my perspective, and my writing and communication skills. I’m able to have much more intelligent communication than I ever did before just because things have been brought into my awareness that I hadn’t thought of but I definitely use the skills that I learn in class every day.

LaTonya: Excellent. So I know early on you said that you feel as though AND RNs need to advance their education for various reasons do you thin this has an impact on career progression for ADN RNs in today’s nursing world?

Nicole Gee: Absolutely. There’s a national goal to have eighty percent of the nursing staff be minimum bachelor’s prepared by 2020. That’s only 5 years away it’s rapidly approaching. With that in mind that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to advance my education. And then as I’ve been looking around at job boards and looking around at things because I’ll be transitioning after I graduate I’ll be locating to another area. So I’ve already been trying to prepare for talking to recruiters, looking at job boards. I had an interview already and It’s really important to have that advanced education. The interview that I had they said, “oh gosh, we saw MSN but we didn’t realize that it wasn’t completed yet just because you’re and RN we can’t hire you”. So a lot of the jobs are now Bachelor’s minimum requirement. Especially for magnet status facilities, other facilities that know that these goals are ahead to have all of the bachelor’s prepared nurses. I feel as though I’m one step ahead by completing my Master’s degree, but it’s definitely critical for any kind of movement in the job place, to get an advanced education.

LaTonya Boyce: Excellent. So it definitely sounds like you have that commitment to the time and being able to complete your studies to make sure that you’re more prepared coming out as an MSN prepared nurse. So approximately how much time each week, do you commit to studying each week, Nicole?

Nicole Gee: It really depends on the course work, you know. How many classes? But I would say between ten and twenty hours a week. This semester I’m taking an extra course so it’s a little more time but I have some flexibility with my work. That’s been one of the real blessings of this program there’s a set guideline for how you matriculate through the program, but there is some flexibility and it’s worked out really well for me.

LaTonya Boyce: So I know you mentioned that you are looking to relocate after graduation, what are your career goals after you graduate what is your long term goal?

Nicole Gee: You know I wish I knew. I thought that, Ok I’m going to start school. This move is unexpected so I just figured that I’d be investing at my current employer, and that I’d be able to use these skills there and possibly move through, I’m on a management track there so they were already planning that in the next few years I would be the assistant manager for my department. So this is all changing, but what I didn’t’ realize going into this program is that there is so much more opportunity than I ever anticipated. So in looking at all of the job boards with moving I don’t have any hesitation or fear about finding employment. Which if I hadn’t been advancing my degree and I hadn’t didn’t have the Clinical Nurse Leader designation with it, I might have some fear about where I’m going to end up, but now it really has removed a lot of that for me. So I’ve actually been offered a job at a hospital education department already, but of course I’m moving so that’s not working out. So either advancing at my work place, this job offer that was given to me and plus plenty of speaking with recruiters, it’s not going to be a problem moving. Now I feel as though I have the opportunity to go interview places where I feel like I want to work, instead of feeling that I have to take whatever job is available.

LaTonya Boyce: That’s an excellent point, seeing that you’ll have that advanced education. It definitely seems like there is already so much more opportunity out there for you, just by knowing that you’ll have that MSN. So Nicole, do you have any final advice for ADN RNs thinking about undertaking an online MSN CNL program with the University of San Francisco?

Nicole Gee: My advice is just do it. Go Nike, just do it. You know, the program does take dedication. It is work and it absolutely should be because if we come out of something and people expect that we’re a master, we better be a master at something, so it does take work, commitment, desire. But you know it’s so worth it. I already see the value and I haven’t even graduated yet. Nobody can take your education away from you. That aspect is very important. It’s given me an invaluable amount of confidence already, just going into work every day, having that confidence. That’s worth its weight in gold, even if you’re not changing careers, or changing your choice of employment or anything like that.

It’s really worth it; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

LaTonya Boyce: So, we have some questions coming in, specifically for you, Nicole. One of our people that are attending the webinar wanted to ask, did you find it fearful of finding and RN job after obtaining your ADN?

Nicole Gee: You know, I went to school with a lot of school that did have difficulty finding work, but they also only sent out resumes. They didn’t go and do a lot of work. I already knew beforehand that I needed to start building some relationships with places in my clinical placement, so I was building relationships practically stalking nurse managers. It did take me a few months to get a commitment from a hospital and I did get that but that’s been now four years. I don’t think that nurses with their ADN would have the same kind of success today as I did four years ago.

LaTonya Boyce: And that’s good that you recognized that early on. Have another question that I’ll actually answer. What are the additional courses an ADN RN would have to take compared to the BSN course work?

The ADN program to MSN it’s a two year and three month program, so the additional courses will include courses community health courses which will allow you to get the public health nursing certification upon graduation from our program and there is also a practicum component that goes with that as well. Then you’ll also have the graduate writing and research course as well within the program. And then there’s one additional course that you’ll take. So as far as prerequisites you’ll take coming in, one of the prerequisites would be that you have an associate’s degree of nursing and that you have an active and unrestricted RN license among some other few things. Such as you’ll need some recommenders and also all of your unofficial transcripts, updated resume, 3.0 GPA, is our preferred GPA with this program, so that is one of the requirements as well.

In addition to a compelling personal statement, which really highlights why you’re looking for a CNL program. What is your career path once you have obtained this degree? So those are just some of the highlights that we can definitely speak further. Whoever your program advisor is that is the person that you would want to contact after this call. You’ll definitely want to go more in depth with that as well.

So, one of the other questions that we have that came in is, what is the yearly academic calendar look like?

We do start three times a year. Summer, spring and fall, we’re currently enrolling for our spring semester which actually starts January 25th. So that is our active enrollment period. And we can absolutely speak with you further on what you would need to get started on an application and to help you along through the process as well.

So we have other questions coming in. Would you recommend having RN work experience before applying for this MSN program?

It is not required to have active RN experience coming into our program. It is an ADN to MSN program so the requirement is not for you to have experience. We have many of the RNs that are in our program that have actually graduated from ADN and BSN programs but have not actually worked as nurses at this point, so that is not one of the requirements for this program. Great question.

So another question that’s coming in, what would you recommend in a great personal statement? I sort of touched on that previously.

A very compelling personal statement anywhere from two to four pages that pretty much outlines what you’re looking for as what you’re looking to do with an MSN with a CNL. Why did you choose the Clinical Nurse Leaders program why did you choose the University of San Francisco? Those are all great statements, things to mention within your personal statement.

So we have another question coming in. A person will be graduating in December 2015 in class hopefully February or so, if you are taking the NCLEX by February 2016 you should be ready for when the enrollment period starts for our summer program. So at that point you would want to start the application once you have the NCLEX completed. We can definitely help you through that process, of looking at the summer of a prospective start date if you’re accepted to our program.

So, another question, please tell us about your clinicals.

They are actually practicums. So the practicums are different from clinicals where they are not clinically based. They are actually leadership based. So those are practicums where you actually are demonstrating various things within the roles that you’ll assume. Such as a role of a clinical educator, clinical outcomes manager. You’ll also do an internship with a final project that will be due at the end of the program. So those are some of the examples of the types of practicums that you’ll actually do within this program. Which can be done in your local area and possibly at your location where you’re currently employed.

So I do have a question for Nicole, coming in here. What is your work load like, Nicole?

Nicole Gee: My work load is four days a week eight to ten hour days.

LaTonya Boyce: Four days a week, ten hour days?

Nicole Gee: Yes, eight to ten hour days.

LaTonya Boyce: Oh, eight to ten hour days ok. Excellent. So we have another question here. What is your final project like, or have you thought about completing the final project, and what that will look like for you?

Nicole Gee: Yes, one of the things that has been important along the way, is patient education. It’s something that I saw a need, not only in my own workplace but also at my clinical site, at the hospital. So I have started along the way in the program, it’s really nice. It’s not as though you don’t get to start your project until your last semester. All these classes are geared toward helping you be prepared for you final project by the time you get to your last semester. A lot of the research your education plan your business strategy all of that is sort of leading up to your last semester, so you’re not just left in the lurch of trying to figure something out. I did figure out my project which is revamping the education and teaching the staff how to teach patients. So I’m in the process of getting those details put together.

LaTonya Boyce:
Ok, excellent, that’s great. So if you are reviewing this presentation at a time other than our live presentation and need to ask a question or get in contact with us. Please click on the questions link in the resources box in the top right corner of your screen. You can then schedule a quick phone call with myself or Jan, and we can answer any of your questions and help you through the application process.

Some of the key dates that we have for the online program as far as the spring application deadline which we are currently enrolling for at this time, is November 6th. The class actually starts January 25th 2016. Just so you have that information readily available as well. And we do have time for one last question that just came in.

Are clinicals arranged by USF?

The Answer to that is we don’t dictate where our students do their clinicals. So the great thing about that and the beauty of that is that you can actually do that locally. USF does not arrange clinical sites or practicum sites but it is something that you can definitely do in the area where you work. There are some things that would be required, as far as getting approval but it is something that definitely makes it more familiar for our students to actually do them locally. And be able to arrange what works best for their current schedules.

So now I would like to introduce our program director. Elena Capella. And she would like to add some final thoughts.

Dr. Elena Capella: Well Hi there everyone. I’d just like to thank you for attending this session. We’re so happy to be apart of your interest in exploring MSN options. And we hope that we can be a part of your professional development. And I would like to thank, Nicole for presenting us with insights into how the RN MSN program has helped her in her professional growth and development. Thank you so much Nicole.

Nicole Gee: Thank you, you’re welcome. It’s an honor.

LaTonya Boyce: Yes, thank you so much Elena Capella for those final words. And thank you also so much Nicole Gee for being part of our webinar today and giving insight from a student’s perspective. Which is so important to our perspective student population. So I want to thank everyone who attended today for viewing. You can contact us today to discuss your USF online MSN CNL enrollment questions that you may have that were not answered today. So we can definitely help you further with that.

Again my name is LaTonya Boyce; I’m an enrollment advisor here at the University of San Francisco. And you can also contact Jan Merlano, who is also an enrollment advisor here as well.

Thank you so much for attending today and enjoy the rest of your day.

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