‘Find a Niche that You Love’

‘Find a Niche that You Love’

Vanderbilt’s dean of nursing on her career path and advice to others

“The field has grown tremendously in terms of academic advancements, but also in terms of nurses being viewed as key players in healthcare decision-making,” explained Linda Norman, DSN, RN, Valere Potter Menefee Professor in nursing and dean of Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing in Nashville.

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with her to ask her questions about her personal career, and about the field of nursing in general.

She says she knew from a young age that she wanted to go into nursing education. She completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at the University of Virginia. She gained experience between completing the two degrees by teaching at a Hospital-based program, and simultaneously working as a staff-nurse on the weekends, and in the summer.

After finishing up her Master’s, Norman became a part of a National Heart, Lung and Blood grant. She helped establish hypertension detection and adherence clinics in southwest Virginia and northwest Tennessee.

When the project ended, she took on a new role, teaching at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). After only a brief time at ETSU, she was promoted to serve as chair of her department.

Norman moved to Nashville a few years later, and began working as the director of Aquinas College’s Nursing program, while also earning her doctorate from the University of Alabama. After completing the degree, she was offered a position as the Associate Dean of Academics at Vanderbilt’s nursing school. In 2012, Norman was given the endowed chair, and in the following year, became dean.

While she earned her degrees and landed job offers, Norman had other responsibilities as well. She was already a wife and mother to two children. She always managed to strike a balance between work and family.

How has the field of nursing changed for the better and for the worse since your career began?

“I think the role that nurses play has grown exponentially. Today, we do not have to convince people of the value that nurses bring. Both healthcare professionals and the public understand that nurses play an important role, and that advanced practice nurses are vital to our industry. People have also realized that we need nurse scientists and Doctorally prepared nurses as clinicians and administrators. I think that the field has grown tremendously in terms of academic advancements, but also in terms of nurses being viewed as key players in healthcare decision-making. In my opinion, the most significant growth has occurred over the past ten or fifteen years.

“I feel that some change still needs to be made regarding entry into practice. It can be confusing because right now someone could become a nurse through an Associate’s program, a hospital-based diploma program, or a Bachelor’s program. I would like to think that changing the laws to make the bachelor degree the only route would decrease confusion so people would understand that a nurse is a nurse is a nurse.”

Why did you decide to get your Doctorate of Science in Nursing?

“I needed my doctoral degree to stay in academics. When I went for my master’s that was the terminal degree in nursing. Shortly after graduating, I knew that in order for me to do what I wanted to do – be a leader in the academic arena- I needed to get my doctorate.

“During the time when I was getting my education, it was typical to take years between degrees in order to gain experience. We have learned a lot now, and that mindset is not longer true … You do not need years of experience anymore. Whether you want to do a research doctorate or a practice doctorate I would recommend going straight through. There are a few advantages: one of which is that you’re in study mode, which makes for an easier transition; another one is that if you get your master’s and start your DNP as a part time student while you’re working as a licensed NP, you can start applying the learning from your coursework immediately.”

How do you effectively balance your personal life with your work life?

“When I started my master’s I had a 15-month-old and a three-year-old. Even though they were active little people, they fell asleep at 7 pm. So I could study from 8 pm until midnight.

“When I started my doctorate, I had a sixth-grader and an eighth-grader, and they did not fall asleep at 7 pm. At this point, in addition to school I was working full-time as director of a nursing program. I had to figure out when I was a student, when I was director, and when I was a wife and a mom.

“I found out that I could not study when everyone else in the house was awake. I also realized that going to the library was unrealistic. I determined that I could accomplish more between two and four in the morning than I could at any other time of the day. No one was up, and even the dog was asleep! I started waking up at about 2 AM naturally. I would get up, and do my reading, or start my paper. Then, around 4 am, I would start to get sleepy, and I would go back to sleep. I would wake up again around 6 am and fool myself into feeling as though I had gotten a full night of sleep. I still wake up in the middle of the night to this day, especially during budget season. Being able to compartmentalize your various roles in life in order to give attention to whatever is needed at a given moment is the key.”

What advice do you have for nursing students of today?

“Look broadly for opportunities that you are truly interested in. I look at people who really flourish, and they find that one area that they are particularly passionate about. Try to land your first job in an area of healthcare that you love. This way, you will be energized to learn a lot. Whether it’s chronic disease, prevention, or anything else, find a niche that you love, and then what you do will not be your job … it will be your career.”

This story was originally published by MedPage Today, a trusted and reliable source for clinical and policy coverage that directly affects the lives and practices of health care professionals and provider of free CME.

California University of Pennsylvania Offers Master’s Degree in Nursing Education

California University of Pennsylvania Offers Master’s Degree in Nursing Education

With a shortage of registered nurses (RNs) increasing nationwide, the California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) has begun offering a master of science degree in nursing education to increase the number of faculty available to help train the next generation of nurses.

As RNs continue to get older and retire younger than previous generations, combined with a rise in number of patients and severity of illness, RNs and other healthcare professionals are in strong demand. Students in some health care programs are almost guaranteed jobs after graduation because of the demand for nurses, but there is a lack of nursing educators available to train nurses at the college level.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) released an October 2016 report stating that there were more than 1,500 jobs available for faculty at nursing schools and a need for 133 more to meet today’s demand. Mary O’Connor, program coordinator and professor at California University of Pennsylvania, tells BizJournals.com, “We’re hoping to address the shortage to create faculty for schools of nursing and well-prepared educators to teach in hospitals.”

The creation of the nursing education program was sparked by Cal U’s nursing advisory board who want to help prepare more advanced practice nurses to teach new nurses. The shortage is so severe at some nursing schools that nursing programs have been forced to leave spots for nursing students unfilled because there aren’t enough professors to teach them.

Cal U’s nursing education program is 100 percent online, preparing graduates to instruct nurses in academic or healthcare settings. Students will learn how to develop, implement, and evaluate nursing education programs and curricula during the 36-credit, two-year program.

To learn more about Cal U’s master of science in nursing education degree program, visit here.

Naomi Jones Receives ATI Nursing Education’s Nurse’s Touch Award

Naomi Jones Receives ATI Nursing Education’s Nurse’s Touch Award

Naomi Jones, the department chair for the practical nursing program at Ivy Tech Community College, was one of four nurses in the nation to receive ATI Nursing Education’s Nurse’s Touch Award. 800 applications were received, and Jones’ teaching techniques really stood out amongst the other applicants.

Referring to the Nurse’s Touch Award, Jones tells TheHeraldBulletin.com, “I’m really humbled. I feel it’s really a privilege for me to teach my passion. I’m really happy for Ivy Tech. We have a really awesome program here.”

For Jones, being a teacher offers the best of both worlds in nursing. After earning her BSN in 2000 from Ball State University, Jones became a parish nurse which allowed her to use a holistic approach to health within a faith-based community. Holistic nursing taught her the bedside manner she works hard to convey to students. Every lecture Jones teaches touches on patients and care.

Jones’ years as a nurse at the bedside brought her a passion for cardiac and respiratory patients before she pursued her love of teaching. After working as a clinical nurse for over a decade, she went back to school to earn her Master’s Degree in Nursing Education at Walden University in 2014. While in school, she came to Ivy Tech as an assistant nursing instructor in 2010 and worked her way up to department chair this year.

Naomi now credits her success to her family, including her husband and two daughters who have provided a support system while she earned her master’s degree and became a nurse educator, as well as her sister who earned her nursing degree at Ivy Tech, and her mom who was a preschool and elementary school teacher. Jones says, “I don’t feel that you ever get to a certain place or get recognition without people along the path…My love of teaching probably came from [my mother].”

The ATI Nursing Education’s Nurse’s Touch Award is intended to improve interpersonal communication between nurses and their patients. To learn more about ATI and their recent award recipient Naomi Jones, visit here.

Elms College School of Nursing Adds New Graduate Programs to Meet Mass. School Nurse Needs

Elms College School of Nursing Adds New Graduate Programs to Meet Mass. School Nurse Needs

The Elms College School of Nursing in Chicopee, Mass. recently announced a new Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and graduate certificate in school nursing program to help expand opportunities for school nurses to meet state education requirements. Massachusetts school nurses are required to earn board certification in school nursing or their MSN degree within five years of employment and currently there is only one graduate program in New England that focuses on school nursing.

School nurses see large numbers of students with a wide array of needs, sometimes spread over several schools as our country faces a shortage of nurses, especially in schools. They must be able to assess; diagnose; identify outcomes; plan, implement, and coordinate care; and teach healthy practices to their students while working with several other healthcare professionals when needed from physicians to counselors to classroom aides.

The school nurse track offered at Elms will be comprised of MSN curriculum components, with a focus on school nursing that includes core graduate nursing classes, direct-care courses, school nurse professional standards, technology and informatics, and school nurse practicums. The school nurse certificate won’t fulfill state board-certification requirements, but it benefits nurses with a graduate degree in another discipline who want to improve their school nursing knowledge base.

All BSN nurses at Elms College will be eligible to enroll in the school nursing graduate certificate which consists of 12 credits and three class options: classroom attendance, livestream, or archived videos. The first group of students enrolled in the graduate core classes will begin in Fall 2017, and school nursing functional content courses will roll out in Spring 2018.

University of Texas at Arlington Adds Five Graduate Nursing Degrees to Online Catalog

University of Texas at Arlington Adds Five Graduate Nursing Degrees to Online Catalog

The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) College of Nursing and Health Innovation recently added five new nursing graduate degrees to its online catalog for the spring semester. The new online programs include a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree and four nurse practitioner master’s degrees in pediatric primary care, pediatric acute care, adult gerontology acute care, and adult gerontology primary care.

After drastically increased enrollment from UTA’s master of science in nursing (MSN) education and nursing administration courses were offered in an online format, the university decided to further expand its online nursing degrees. The additional online degrees will provide advanced nursing education access to students who are unable to attend on-campus courses.

The new online DNP program provides advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with the information, knowledge, and skills to transform healthcare from the local to global level. With an online learning system that doesn’t require specific class times, the program’s goal is to provide the rigorous standards of a DNP program in a flexible and affordable way for professional working nurses.

Adding new online programs supports UTA’s mission to improve health and human condition by making advanced nursing programs more available so that UTA students can have a broader impact on the health and lives of people in their own state, country, and around the world. To learn more about UTA’s new online nursing programs, visit TheShorthorn.com.

$5 Million Gift to University of Virginia School of Nursing Offers Scholarship Support to Non-Nurses Entering the Profession

$5 Million Gift to University of Virginia School of Nursing Offers Scholarship Support to Non-Nurses Entering the Profession

A $5 million gift from Joanne and Bill Conway will go towards supporting the University of Virginia’s (UVA) fast-track-to-nursing program for non-nurses entering the profession. Their gift will go into effect in 2018, extending a gift bestowed in 2013 and furthering the couple’s support of the UVA School of Nursing.

The Conway’s contributions to UVA have helped diversify the nursing student body by bringing a particular focus to students from underrepresented and minority groups, including men. Their newest gift is expected to provide scholarships to over 110 new nurses over five years, bringing new skills and experience from outside nursing to the bedside. School of Nursing Dean, Dorrie K. Fontaine, told UVAToday,

“The Conways are forging real, meaningful change in nursing because they’re bringing even more people to nursing who look like, talk like, and understand the patients they serve.”

New funding from the Conway’s is coming at a monumental moment for UVA as they celebrate the 10th year of their first Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) master’s program. The program was the first of its kind in Virginia, providing a path to nursing for non-nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in another field. Students in the fast-track-to-nursing program spend two years attending intensive academic courses before starting clinical rotations with a personal veteran nurse preceptor.

Graduating with over 1,000 hours of clinical experience, CNLs graduate as entry-level nurses but usually rise quickly into leadership and management positions due to their maturity level and diversified experience. To learn more about UVA’s CNL program and the Conway’s philanthropic gifts, visit here.

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