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Master’s in Nursing Education and Leadership Virtual Open House

Christine Cabre: Welcome everyone. We’re delighted that you can be here with us for our virtual open house. This is the masters in nursing education and leadership, and we are so glad that you can participate in our virtual open house this evening. Here’s what you can expect in this virtual open house. First, we’d love to provide you with an review of the program of course, and discuss the student expectations and outcomes of course. You want to understand a little bit about getting to know the next steps and we want to answer those questions for you if you are interested in participating. And of course, we also want to field some really good questions towards the end of the virtual open house. So please stick around. Without further ado, I’d love to welcome our very first guest.

Cynthia Love-Williams: Yes, thank you. And welcome everybody. My name is Cynthia Love-Williams and I have been at Utica University for about the last 13 years. I have been in nursing education since 1996, teaching at both the associate and the baccalaureate level and now I teach at the graduate level. I’m very excited to be working with students who will be going out and really moving and shaking healthcare and being leaders and educators in this area. My area of expertise, something I’m very involved with right now, is interprofessional education and making sure that our students both at the baccalaureate and the graduate level are getting now those opportunities to work with other disciplines. So when they go out and work in the workplace, they’re prepared to be part of it in a professional team. And I’d like to welcome our next guest, Dr. Kimberly Bolton.

Kimberly Bolton: Hi everybody. Thank you so much for being year this evening with us. I’ve been with Utica University now, as full-time faculty for about six months. But prior to that, I was an adjunct as well as a [inaudible 00:01:56] employee, where I helped develop programs and curriculum for two years prior. I am so fortunate to be a part of the Utica family because I actually reside way out in the west in Albuquerque New Mexico. So I bring in a different feel and perspective from rural medicine and rural leadership. My background for 23 years now in medicine has been emergency, ICU, critical care, as well as flight nursing. I absolutely love where it’s going, how healthcare is changing and the way leaders really need to step up and advance our practice and advocate for our patients. So that’s what I really pride myself in. A lot of my research is involved around communication and patient outcomes, quality review, as well as outreach, not only in the community but across the world in Japan, where I get to go and help build their nursing and professional development within health. Our next amazing guest is Ms. Anita Moller and I will let her speak.

Cynthia: I think we’re going to get to Anita in just a second.

Kimberly: Oh, sorry.

Cynthia: That’s okay. No, she comes… We’re saving the best for last, is what we’re doing here. And just, Anita’s a graduate of the program. So we’re saving her for last to let everybody hear what she has to say. But why should you come to Utica University to advance your education? We have a strong foundation in educating students at the baccalaureate level and now we have taken that excellence and developed our graduate programs. Our curriculum is progressive and was delivered in small classes. So you’re not just a number, faculty know who you are and are involved with you. When you have an issue, concern, you need help, anything, they’re very responsive and respond very quickly to. You also will have a success coach that will help guide you through the program. Some areas they may help you with is like registering for classes each semester.

You also have online resources, such as an online writing center. We have our own librarian for our school. You have access to all of the library resources online, and the librarian can help you if you need any assistance with that. You can enroll three times a year, doesn’t matter, spring, fall and summer, there is no wait list and all our programs, we do offer a practicum that if you need help, we can assist you in with finding that practicum place. And we’re going to explain a little bit more about the practicums coming up when we discuss the curriculum. Quick little fact sheet, I’ll start here just about nursing education. It is 14 courses, it does show you the fee and how many total credits the course is. It takes about 28 months to complete, that is going basically part-time because we know most of you are all working full time and have families or other personal obligations. It is 180 hour practicum and is divided up into two 90 hour time slots with the two different courses. So I’ll let, if Kim wants to say anything about the leadership.

Kimberly: Yeah, of course. The leadership program is very similar to the education. There are fewer courses. It is absolutely doable for full-time working nurse leaders. You do have to be deliberate with your time, you do have to put in a lot of effort and energy into it, but it’s absolutely doable, especially with the professors and the adjunct professors, they’re all working full-time as nurse leaders. So they can understand what you’re going through. The clinical or the practicum part, two 90 hour increment courses is also are doable. You may have to be willing to be flexible and make sure you are open and honest with your leadership team, but we hope that they’re supporting you because you are going to bring back an amazing knowledge and skillset to your facility that will only benefit them as well as the nurses and support staff that report to you.

It is intense and we do have high expectations and you do have to really work hard. It’s not something where we do just hand out grades, you work for them but again, it is completely doable while you’re working full-time and we support full-time nurses in this program.

Cynthia: In the next slide we’re going to go talk about… We’re going to let Anita speak to these. These are the core classes that you’ll be taking and it speaks to that progressiveness and as Kim just spoke to, making sure that you’re ready for what’s happening out there right now, and you have that advanced knowledge. So I’ll let Anita speak to this and how this helps you gear up and prepare for that next level as the advanced practice nurse.

Anita Moller: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Cynthia. Having the six core courses that are common through the variety of curriculums at Utica University, is really helpful because as Cynthia said, it gives you that solid foundation of knowledge that we all need as professional nurses and particularly, as advanced practice nurses. And not only did it provide that foundation of knowledge that is truly applicable in the real sense with what we’re doing in our day-to-day work, but it also allowed us to connect with the larger cohort of nursing students within the numerous curriculums and develop some of that connection and camaraderie with our colleagues. And this is one of the things that I think really speaks to the value of the program with the small core sizes, that personal touch that we have is being able to connect with colleagues who are here in the local area, as well as around the country. And to recognize that we all have the same information needs, the same skill level needs but also the same challenges that we’re facing. And truly, these core courses provide that, the tools, the knowledge and the skills to help navigate the complicated landscape of nursing leadership.

Cynthia: The nursing in leadership and nursing education, it definitely is complicated and nothing is simple and this really gives you that solid foundation like she said. I have a student right now, who’s taking 603 and she just couldn’t say enough about how it really helped her open her eyes to about all quality and safety as a new leader. And she’s coming back for her education and how it really helped her see the basic foundation and how to hopefully solve some of the problems that they’re seeing like [inaudible 00:08:25], that you’re going to be sharing and talking about with each one, with one another.

The next slide just discusses the certificate curriculum. If you’re coming in with… Let me decide, let me just make sure I can’t see the top slide. The certificate curriculum, if you’re coming in with a master’s degree, you can just come and get this as a certificate. If you do have the three Ps, patho, pharm and physical assessment, you do not need to repeat those if they meet our requirement. So you would just take from 607 to 624, and then you would have the certificate in nursing education and the same is for the certificate in leadership.

Again, if you come in with a master’s degree and you wish to get the certificate in leadership, you would just have to take the courses on the screen to complete that degree and have the certificate in nursing leadership. Again, just some more quick facts, a little bit about the certificates again, in nursing education, it is the eight courses but again, it does include the three Ps if you do not have that. An example, if you’re a family nurse practitioner who took the three Ps in your curriculum, you would not have to take those classes and you would just take the other five courses and it shows you how long it would take for you to complete it.

And then with leadership, again, most people, if you’re coming in with some leadership courses, if not, you would take the six courses and you would be able to complete it in 12 months, the same course fee. And then you still have to complete in both of them, the 180 hour practicum, that’s again, divided up between 90 hours and one course and 90 hours in the other course. So now I’d like to have Anita tell us a little bit about herself and how she has used and found the curriculum that she took here at Utica University.

Anita: Wonderful, thanks again. I’m really happy to be here as an alumni of the program. Not only am I an alumni of the master’s program, but I also received my bachelor’s in nursing from Utica University and that was one of the things that brought me back to Utica University for my master’s program, because I really recognized the quality of the education that I received, the personal touch that Utica provides to all of our student, as well as the solid knowledge and skillset that I’ve gained through the program. So I am a working nurse leader working full-time. So I think one of the most important things that I can speak to, is how doable the program is. I was able to navigate the online program while working full-time in one of the most challenging times I think, in healthcare recently.

So that really is a testament to how doable the program is and also to how supportive the faculty are throughout the program. As was mentioned earlier, with the success coaches that are available to help you navigate through the program, which is extremely help… As well as the accessibility and the support that all of the faculty have provided through the variety of courses and that really makes it a manageable program. As a full-time working, being able to take the courses online was a huge benefit, and that was one of the primary things that I was looking for when exploring different masters programs in nursing. There are a lot that are available, but ultimately I chose Utica University because of the quality program, as well as the ability to do this online, which allows the flexibility that we need as working professional. Being able to work through the courses one at a time, for me was a really important piece because while it’s very intense, as Dr. Bolton was saying there are high expectations but also high expectations for us.

Being able to focus on one thing at a time was really very helpful and that allowed us to complete two courses each semester in eight week blocks, and progressed through the program. So I began the program in the spring semester of 2020 and graduated in December of 2021. So I was able to progress through quite quick. It was a lot of hard work, took a lot of hours, but it was something I was very focused on. And what that focus has brought me a at the end of the program, is truly a much stronger foundation of skills and knowledge that are helping me every day in my role, as a nurse leader.

I currently work as a nurse manager for surgical services and I honestly wish that I had started the program earlier in my leadership career. I think a lot of us as nurses find our way into leadership roles almost by accident without the solid foundation, without the skills and knowledge that we need. And having gone through the program over the past two years, it has really enhanced what I’m able to do for my team and for my organization. And I certainly hope that I can encourage other nurse leaders pursue the same education and together, think about what we can do to change the landscape of nursing in general. You’re welcome.

Christine: Thank you, Anita, for sharing your experience with us this evening. So by now you might be asking, ” How do I get started? What are some next steps if I’m interested in applying?” To begin with, you want to connect with an enrollment counselor, this individual can assist you with your application, discuss some best practices for completing your personal statement, even request letters of recommendation on your behalf. Once you are accepted into the program, your enrollment counselor will help facilitate your and process and then finally connect you with your success coach as mentioned earlier. It’s really critical that you have this level of support throughout the program. So the enrollment counselor will officially hand off and introduce you to your success coach, who will work with you throughout your experience in the program. You should know also that are offering our 24 hour, seven days a week support in our learning management system that we’re utilizing, which is called Engage.

So if you have any sort of technology issues, we do have support standing by offered for our students. Finally, you have the flexibility of learning anywhere and everywhere you can possibly by utilizing our online learning platform. So you’re able to balance a little bit of that workload along with your school load, and we’ll share some best practices as to how much time you want to dedicate towards your studies to be successful in the pro… And then finally, you will have a dedicated academic advisor. This person will offer you some career guidance and advice and really be there to support you throughout your career with us and then be… So to get started as mentioned, one of the requirements will be to complete an online application and personal statement, your official transcripts that’ll show and demonstrate you’ve earned your bachelor’s in nursing and your dedicated enrollment counselor can assist with requesting those official transcripts as well.

We will be looking for proof of health assessment and statistics, and we want to see a performance of at least a B or better in your bachelor’s of nursing transcript. So you definitely want to be able to identify those and share that with your enrollment counselor. We’re also looking for at least a 3.0 GPA, and that you have an active RN license, and we can assist you with where to pull a license verification report and we do this through nurses.com. If you’ve never been there before, once again, a dedicated enrollment counselor will walk you through that process. Finally, we want to be sure that you have the work experience that qualifies you for the program as well. That’s 2000 hours of full-time RN experience, which we will help and assist you with pulling from your HR representative.

Finally, two professional or academic letters of recommendations, which your dedicated enrollment counselor will request on your behalf. We’ll accept applications throughout the year. We do have three official starts, a spring enrollment, a summer enrollment and a fall enrollment. Do check with your enrollment counselor for those specific dates. And once again, we can assist with requesting those transcripts and if your school isn’t a student only request school, we may be able to even cover the cost of requesting those transcripts on your behalf. The entire process shouldn’t take more than two to three weeks, so we can love to help assist you through the process. At this point, I believe we have some questions, some frequently asked questions from our nursing students that we can address and pitch to the group. Is everyone ready for questions? So the first question is, “In which semesters do clinicals begin?”

Kimberly: Yeah, it really depends on the track that you’re in and when you begin and how fast you go through the core classes, because you can do a part-time or if you’re having a really rough semester and a rough time at work, you can take time off or only do half the amount of classes, but it’s usually approximately the third semester.

Cynthia: And for nursing education, you’ll usually start your clinicals towards the end of the taking the curriculum. So if you’re going part-time, it would be like semesters, I think, six and seven or somewhere right there towards the end, because you’re gaining all the knowledge that you need to help with and develop curriculum and test analysis, assessment evaluation, you’re doing all of that. And then you’re going to actually put it into action. So towards the end of the curriculum is when you would actually do the 90 hours with one and then the 90 is the very last a semester.

Christine: That’s a great point and it brings us to our next question. “Do we take classes while we are completing our clinical hours?”

Kimberly: So in leadership, it is part of a class. There’s two classes of six… They’re in your 631 and 632, and it is the leadership practicum. Those two courses are 16 weeks instead of eight because of the practicum. So the work is spread out more and you do have a little bit more downtime and it’s not as much paper and writing and research as a normal eight week class, because we do spread out over 16 weeks to allow you to be able to really retain the knowledge and get the practical hours and still work, because it would be really hard to get 90 hours in in eight weeks in a sane and doable way while working full time. So those two semesters we do, or those two courses are 16 weeks just to make it more doable and survivable for the working nurse.

Cynthia: And I don’t know if Anita wants to comment on that, but I just want to say the same is for education too. They are 16 week courses. So you are… The 90 hours is spread out. You don’t have to do it. You could have one week, you have a lot and then maybe you have a week that you don’t have many hours. But I don’t know, Anita, how did it work for you with your doing the 90 hours?

Anita: So it was extremely manageable and I think very beneficial to have the 90 hours for the practicum spread out over the 16 weeks, particularly for someone who was working full time and progressing through the program, they made it very manageable. And one of the really nice things about it, was as a student, I was able to identify a preceptor within my own organization who worked with me very collaboratively, recognized both the demands of work as well as the demands of the curriculum. And that allowed me not only to progress through those hours, gain the practical experience that I needed, but also allowed me to tailor the focus of my practicum to what my particular interests were within the leadership area. And they gave me a tremendous opportunity to enhance my learning and grow in a very tailored and specific way that I’ve been able to carry with me after I completed the program.

Christine: That leads us to our next question. “So how many clinical hours are our nursing students expected to complete per week?”

Kimberly: That all depends on your site and how you time manage. So it’s up to you. In the leadership program, I’m not going to dictate you have to do six hours a week or eight hours a week because that’s not doable. If you have a really heavy week at work and you couldn’t get to it, or your practicum leader is out on vacation, or maybe like I had one student where the joint commission showed up at their hospital and they couldn’t do clinical hours for that week. So as long as you get the 90 hours in by the end of the semester, it’s not really required that you clock the X amount per week. Honestly, it’s really hard to do clinical hours your first week because you are getting familiar with it. You know what you’re learning what’s expected. You’re getting into the course and the last week is when you wrap it up and you’re turning everything in.

So if you look at it as 14 weeks of clinicals, it’s about six hours a week, maybe seven here and there, but I had one student do 40 hours in a week. She took a vacation and did 40 hours this week and then broke them up the next few weeks to get a project done and it worked really well for her. So as long as you finish it within the 16 weeks, we really let you be your own boss and your own leader.

Anita: And I think that really speaks to the flexibility of the program, recognizing that we all have oftentimes, very full plates between work and life and school, and to allow us as students to design our practicum in a way that works for us time-wise as Dr. Bolton said, sometimes I would do 10 hours in a week. And that really depended on what the focus was with my preceptor and what opportunities were available during that week and then other weeks, it’d be a little bit lighter when I had a busier week with work or had more classwork that I needed to do. So again, being flexible and allowing us to self direct with how those hours got completed was very beneficial. And truly, I think that’s another piece that lends itself to the learning process that we all went through, as well as being able to identify our goals, design our project and to manage our time as we work.

Cynthia: And I just want to say for the nursing education, that if you are going to be working with a school of nursing for your 90 or 180 hours, that thinking about through the summer, if the school you wish to work with does not continue to have courses and enroll students and be actively teaching, that might be something you want to think about when you’re setting up your practicum. Just a little bit different for education if you’re going to focus on that, if you’re going to be doing your educational practicum in a healthcare facility that never stops, goes year round, that’s not a problem, but just for remember that as when you’re going forward and thinking about that. And the faculty and I, we would all be working together with you as you’re getting closer to those practicum hours and setting up your practicum, thinking about what’s fall, spring, summer, when it’s going to land and what would be most appropriate. So you don’t have to sit out, you can continue to move, progress forward and not miss a beat.

Christine: Yeah. Great point. And are students able to accelerate? I know we spoke a lot about flexibility. So how might that…

Cynthia: The students can accelerate, that is not a problem. It is totally up to them and what works in life. As Anita said, juggling school, family life, personal life and work, if you have the capability to take on some extra course load because you want to get it done, you can accelerate. You can take more than one class, one class, so basically two classes in the semester. You can definitely do this, especially getting through the core classes. I always try to remind students, just be mindful of what you’re doing and make sure that at the end of the day, you can take a deep breath and you have the… That you can refresh yourself and carry on so that you can do well in all the endeavors that you’re taking on in life. Because it is a lot, it can be a lot. But you can definitely accelerate if you want and there are some students that have that capability.

Christine: Excellent. I guess the final question here is just pivoting back to clinicals. “Will our nursing students have to find their own preceptor?”

Cynthia: I don’t know if Kim wants to say something. I know for education, they do… The reason that we say yes a little bit is, because you’re coming from all over and you’re in your own world and the… You kind of know where you want to go. “Gosh, I really want to work. I want to be at that school or I want to work in that hospital as an educator.” And you probably have connections, if you literally don’t have any connections, we are happy to help you in any track. And I’ll let Kim talk a little bit more, but we can help you. But right now, we’re thinking you already have a few connections and if you’re going to work those, and your preceptor has questions, we definitely are here to help further that process, so that we can solidify and get that contract between our institution and your institution.

Kimberly: Yeah, I completely agree. It’s not like when your first entering nursing and you’re doing your first med surg rotation where it’s all aligned and very strict and solidified out, that’s not where we’re at. We’re now at a graduate level where we’re all professionals and I know that Utica’s amazing, where they’re not going to dictate how you learn to become a leader and who you learn from because there are amazing leaders out there that you’re aware of that we’re not. So we want you to be able to learn from the people you admire and who are willing to teach and want to teach and that are excited to have you by their side, learning and growing. So we will absolutely help you and help you work through the process, but you, as a student will know far more people in your area, in your community than especially me being in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I definitely am not going to try to tell you where to go.

Cynthia: And Anita, did you have any trouble finding a preceptor in your own institution? Because I… The one thing is, no matter who your preceptor is, no matter what education relationship, it can not be your direct boss, it can not be someone you report to. So that’s one of the criteria. So did you find any issues finding a leader, especially during the pandemic top of everything else that was going on?

Anita: Actually, I didn’t have any problems at all. And I think Kim really pointed out an important piece of this is, being able to learn from somebody that you respect and admires as a leader and to recognize people within my own organization that I admired, looked up to and wanted to learn more from them regard their leadership style and their approach to issues. So I was very easily able to make that connection. And I think it’s also important to note that at the same time that I was going through the practicums, there was another colleague in my organization who was also in the program and was also able to find another preceptor within our organization. And really our leadership team was very receptive to that because I think it’s the recognition what they’re able to give to us in terms of support, pays dividends back to the organization once we complete the program. And also the projects that we’re working on have real practical value for not only our program, ourselves and the individuals we’re working with, but also our organization as a whole. So they were very receptive to that.

Christine: Wonderful. Thank you. So folks, if you believe this level of flexibility and credibility works for you, here’s how to contact. You can email us at onlineprograms@utica.edu. In the subject line, just indicate, “I’m ready.” And that might be ready to connect with a counselor or ready for more information or ready to apply. You can reach out to us via email or give us a call at 866-295-3106. You can take a screenshot of that right now, that’s on the screen. And we just want to take this moment to also thank our guests, Anita, Kim, and Cynthia, for your wealth of knowledge and information. We really appreciate you this evening. Thank you all.

View this virtual open house recording to learn more about Utica University’s online CCNE-accredited M.S. in Nursing Education and M.S. in Nursing Leadership programs. Discover how advanced nursing education can transform your career. You’ll hear from our graduate nursing faculty as they speak with a recent graduate about the benefits of earning your master’s in nursing online with Utica University.

Request more information about our faculty and programs or call 315.732.2640 or toll-free 866.295.3106. Have a great day.

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