Online RN to MSN
Clinical Systems Leadership

Info-session featuring MSN Graduates and Program Director

Topic: Info-session featuring MSN Graduates and Program Director

Date: February 11, 2016

In this informative session, our MSN graduates share their firsthand experience and answer audience questions about the University of Arizona Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership (RN-MSN) Online Program.

Our Program Director, Cheryl Lacasse, also provides program overview and answers program-related questions.


Cheryl Lacasse, MS, RN, OCN
Clinical Professor
Online RN-MSN Program Director & Faculty

Cheryl is a Clinical Professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, core faculty and Director for the online RN-MSN program. She has clinical expertise as an advanced practice nurse in geriatric and oncology care management. She also has a variety of leadership experiences in clinical practice, education, and professional organizations.

Todd Gilbert (MSN ’15)
Nurse Manager of Neuroscience Fl, Memorial Hospital

Todd is currently the Manager of Neurosciences at University of Colorado Health Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, CO. He has a background in Emergency Medicine, and has been in various leadership positions for over 10 years. He graduated from University of Arizona this past August, and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau.

Debbie Zlomek (MSN ’14)
Education Coordinator, PMSI

Deb is the education coordinator for Pottstown Medical Specialists Inc. (PMSI) a physician-owned multi-specialty group practice in southeastern Pennsylvania. She is board certified in advance diabetes management (BC-ADM). Senior nursing students from her local community college do a clinical community rotation with her. She also serves as a mentor for the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). Her goal is to empower patients to manage their chronic disease. Deb received her Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership (RN-MSN) online program from the University of Arizona in 2014.


[Start of recorded material 00:00:00]

Facilitator: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the University of Arizona’s informational webinar, where we will get to hear from the graduates of our Master of Science and Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership Online Program, RN to MSN. In addition to obtaining valuable insights from our graduates, our program director, Cheryl Lacasse, is also here to provide us with a program overview and join us in the Q&A session. My name is Kira and I will be your moderator today. I know everyone is excited to hear from our featured speakers, so let’s go over today’s logistics. For today’s event, please note, our participants’ conference lines are currently placed on mute or listen-only mode to ensure a smoother line of communication, as this presentation is being recorded for later viewing.

To communicate with me, please type your messages to me via the chat box. It’s the roundish bubble on the top right hand corner of your screen. If it’s not currently lit blue, please click on it to enable the function. And we will be taking your questions throughout the webinar, so please don’t hesitate to send you questions to me via the chat box and I’ll bring them to our panelist, who will be answering them as we go along. If we are not able to get through all of your questions within the hour, we will be sure to get in touch with you after event. Also, our enrollment advisors will be happy to follow up with you at a later time, on any program-related questions. Now, let’s introduce you to our panelists.

First, we have Professor Cheryl Lacasse. She is a clinical professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, core faculty and director of the online RN to MSN program. She has clinical expertise as an advanced practice nurse in geriatric and oncology care management. She also has a variety of leadership experiences in clinical practice, education and professional organizations. Also joining professor Lacasse is Todd Gilbert, who will join us later on today. Todd is currently the manager of Neurosciences at the University of Colorado Health Memorial Hospital, in Colorado, Sprigs. He has a background in emergency medicine and has been in various leadership positions for over ten years.

He graduated from the University of Arizona this past August and is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau. And another one of our special guests is Deb Zlomek. Deb is the education coordinator for Pottstown Medical Specialists Inc., known as PMSI, a physician-owned multi-specialty group practice in south-eastern Pennsylvania. She is Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management, BCADM, senior nursing student from her local community college to a clinical community rotation [with her]. She also serves as a mentor to the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators, and her goal is to empower patients to manage their chronic disease. Deb received her Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership, RN MSN Online Program, from the University of Arizona, in 2014.

Congratulations, Deb and Todd, on completion of your degrees from the University of Arizona College of Nursing. And thank you everyone, our panelists, our audience, for taking the time to join us today. It’s going to be a great discussion we have for you. So let’s invite our program director, Cheryl Lacasse to share some of the program overview. And before we get to speak with our graduate, go ahead, Cheryl. I believe Cheryl’s line might be on mute. Let me see if we can unmute her. Bear with us one moment. This is what happens when we have live presentations. It’s all the fun -

Cheryl: How about now?

Facilitator: Perfect. Welcome, Cheri.

Cheryl: Sorry about that. Sometimes, when you do nothing, electronics take over your life, so excuse us for the momentary pause. So, you know, welcome to the webinar. One of the things that I’m going to do is talk a little bit about the program itself and some of the outcomes that we expect out of our graduates when they complete the program. So this particular program is geared towards working professionals and experienced nurses. So it does result in a Master of Science of Nursing, with a focus in Nursing Clinical System Leadership. What that means is the program is focused on skill building, looking at what you know, what you think you know, and revisiting some of that, sharpening some of those leadership skills that perhaps you’ve already begun to develop and we’d like to develop further.

And also helping shape some of the ways that you think or some of the attitudes and thinking about how you can transform healthcare in today’s complex healthcare system. So that’s what the program overview is really all about, and everyone has their unique focus within that. When we look at the program outcomes, there are several outcomes that we like our graduates to take a look at and really focus in on. And those outcomes will be shown on the next slide, for those of you who are following along. One of the things that we’re going to be looking at – I’m going to try to advance that slide, there. There we go. Okay. The first thing that we do is we really explore patient-centered care.

We want to give our graduates a real clear picture of what does patient-centered care mean in a variety of environments that they may practice in and their collogues may practice in, so you have a lot of integration and exchange of ideas in and around what that means in certain circumstances, whether it be in a clinic, in rural healthcare, in an ICU and everything in between. We have a lot of students who are working for insurance companies or case management companies and a lot of different perspectives in nursing. The other thing that we try to foster is that sense of working in teams.

We do a lot of group work, and that helps the skill building in teams, so that people can really think about, “When I’m out in the workplace, how can I lead a team and how can I be a good team member?” So, we do that practice and also think about how evidence plays into everything that we do. So that’s what that second program outcome is about, is looking at that focus of inner-professionalism and how we can work as a team, and then how we can use [evidence] for quality care. The next program outcome that we work a lot on is looking at evaluating evidence-based healing strategies and thinking about how we might go about implementing those across the care [continuum] and across and within all of our settings, and from person to person, from team to team.

So there’s a lot of talk about that across different courses that we have in a program. We do use a lot of integrative technology throughout the program that helps – we do have a healthcare technology course, but that’s really the tip of the iceberg in thinking about how you might go about using technology to affect patient-centered care, increase quality, increase safety. So we do a lot of exploration, we have students who interact with Twitter, we have students who are on LinkedIn. A lot of Google Hangout happen, we have students who Skype, working together in different platforms, doing document sharing. So there’s lots of different exploratory ways to look at technology and how you might be able to use technology with populations, and then also working with colleagues.

We look at our care coordination from a lot of different advantage points and thinking about how you might affect a safe and high quality transition of patient populations from one setting to another or moving from acute to chronic care or chronic to acute care, and anything in between across that helps our continuum. We also take a look at what are the patient outcomes that you can expect along the way in all the different aspects that we take a look at within our coursework. The final one is looking at how we apply theory, how we apply evidence-based practice. Another aspect is looking at what is now termed evidence-informed practice, and what that is is taking what you know, taking your practice, taking the best evidence, putting that together and saying, “Does this fit my patient? Does this fit my patient population?”

And then being able to use that knowledge to design and coordinate and evaluate patient care systems, whether they be very specific for a certain group of patients or for the broader group of patients that you may serve and that you may be a leader in that perspective. So that gives you a bit of an overview. And I’m going to turn the program over to Deb, who will make some of these outcomes really look alive, in a very personal sense.

Debbie: Thank you, Cheri. I am a diabetes educator and, no matter how good I am, if I can’t show outcomes, I’m no good because you need to have a return on your investment. That’s what healthcare systems are about. They need to be able to survive. And in order to survive, they need to show that what you’re doing is working. So, this program, I was able to put into practice everything that I was learning into my daily work environment. I do a yearly performance improvement document that shows what I’ve done, has it worked – if it hasn’t worked, why didn’t it work and what am I going to do to change it?

So, by using all those skills that Cheri had talked about, working as a team, no one works as a [unintelligible 00:12:19] at all, we don’t work in silos – I was able to incorporate and get information, know how to be a leader, know how to be a team member, and when I knew how to act in which capacity to make sure that the program that I was trying to promote to help with this special patient population would be successful. Our program is very successful, we’re known nationally, we’ve been in many studies. I’m happy to report that one thing that you measure as an outcome with diabetes is [A1C]. And, last year, we had a reduction of A1C by almost two percent, which means that blood sugars came down considerably, which improved patient health and that patient population, their quality of life, and also saved the healthcare system several thousands of dollars.

So, you know, I’m a nurse and all I wanted to do was take care of patients, but, unfortunately, you have to go beyond that when you’re a nurse. You’re going to have to answer to insurance companies, you’re going to have to answer to the board of directors, you’re going to have to answer to patients, as well, because they want to make sure they only have so many dollars. So, “The care that you’re telling me and the treatment plan that you’re giving me, how do you know that it’s going to work for me? I want to see some evidence, I want to see why you’re choosing this route.” So it’s no longer just that very technical, tangible nursing. It’s beyond that. And I think that’s what’s changed in the healthcare system, and we just need to make sure that we keep moving along that continuum, learning those new skills, to adapt.

Facilitator: Deb, what was your greatest challenge in the program? As somebody who was a practicing nurse, coming back to school.

Debbie: Time, it’s always the greatest [unintelligible 00:14:42]. “And how am I going to fit all of this into my already busy life?” I found that online learning was ideal for me because, nursing, you don’t have a nine to five job. I don’t care what shift you are. They tell you you work 12-hour shifts, I’m sure that many of you know that that 12 hours also extends to 14 and beyond. So, to me, that was my biggest concern – how was I going to find time to do a program, continues the job that I loved and still be successful at both? The one thing that I really enjoyed about the program is I knew what the expectations were, right from the beginning.

I knew what the deadlines were, I knew, if I had problems, who to contact, when to contact them, what was due when. So I could map out my own personal schedule to fit into work and my work schedule. And knowing – if you know upfront what the expectations are, it’s a lot easier to meet those expectations, instead of floundering along.

Facilitator: Yeah. Earlier, you were telling us that, you know, the program is about patient-centered care, but you feel like, as a student, it was like student-centered care. Can you elaborate on what you meant?

Debbie: Yeah. I know two patients that are alike. There are no two students that are alike. I knew that I was an individual in this program. And I had special needs, I had special requirements, I am an older student who went back to school. And I don’t mind sharing with you that I’m 60 years old. I graduated when I was 58, so do it when you’re young. So I had some other challenges, as well, and the faculty recognized me as an individual. And I could meet with them and let them know what my circumstances were. And we were able to brainstorm together how to meet those needs. So, to me, it’s not just patient-centered care, but that student-centered care really meant a lot to me.

And it actually made me think, “You know, now I know what patient-centered care really is. It has to be about the individual.” And bi-focus on diabetes. The program’s focus isn’t on diabetes, but yet I was able to grow and learn and expand my diabetes knowledge. And this program knew what my need was and knew what my need was and knew what my goals were, and helped me channel that knowledge into something that was meaningful for me. So, to me, it made sense and it was a valuable program in that I wasn’t taking 12 courses, I wasn’t taking something that I just needed to make a checkbox. Every single thing that I did, I could relate and transfer to what I was doing and what my goals were.

And it could’ve been diabetes, it could’ve been cardiology, E.R. You have that flexibility and you have the faculty that will help guide you to make sure that you meet your needs.

Facilitator: Yeah. And what was, you know, the interaction with other classmates and your faculty like, Deb? How did you experience that?

Respondent: Well, because I was very – I mean, diabetes is a very narrow topic. The fellow students – I would meet with and discuss diabetes with oncology nurses and find out, “Oh, you know, I didn’t know that patient population had this special need.” So I was able to learn, again, and transfer those skills from other specialties into my needs. I still, as a matter of fact yesterday, one of the students that I graduated with, we still network. She had a question about insulin pumps. She texted me and we still communicate. She has expertise in emergency nursing. I don’t have that expertise, I don’t have the in-patient expertise, so I can reach out and see what’s going on with other students and other nurses.

And one thing that I really like, because I’m on the East Coast, and I found through these programs, the healthcare systems on the East Coast is a little bit different than what’s happening on the West Coast. Sometimes we’re ahead of the game, sometimes we’re behind. Rural population – I live in a very urban area, there’s a hospital on every corner. Patients can go from one corner to the next to say that satisfied with their healthcare. What happens to that rural population? Here, they have diabetes educators. How do you get diabetes education out or any kind of education out to someone who has to travel an hour to get to a physician’s office, to get to a healthcare system?

So I got to learn, geographically, the differences in how healthcare is delivered and how healthcare systems work, which makes me more globally aware of healthcare.

Facilitator: Thanks, Deb. So we have questions coming in. The message is for Cheri. So, the questioner has been a nurse for about 46 years. Will his experience count towards getting an MSN and, if not, can you speak to that?

Cheryl: So, that’s a hard question to ask because I think there are many layers. One of the things that we try to do with this particular program is folks who have the associate’s degree essentially are skipping the traditional courses that you might see people needing to take to get a baccalaureate degree. So, that’s a yes and no. We do give you credit for that life experience in the fact that we don’t ask people to go through general education courses that may or may not be enlightening for people at that stage in their professional trajectory, but we do ask people to go through a variety of courses that are extremely important for today’s master’s prepared nurse to know about.

So, as Deb mentioned, there’s a variety of skills that you learn, one of which is there’s a business course that people take, there’s health promotion risk reduction, and a lot of nurses say, “I know how to do health promotion risk reduction.” This course takes it to a whole different level for people and really helps you think through, in a very scholarly way, the ways that you need to view population. Population help is another one. Again, it really broadens your view of how you might be able to look at that individual within the context of a population. We have a course on healing environments, which usually opens up people’s perspectives on what an environment of care could be and, perhaps, should be like, whether it be in the person’s home or with a group of people who are working on a unit or with a larger system. So we have lots of different pieces of care that people are doing, that experience will enrich that, but you’ll also be able to learn more because of your experiential base. So, hopefully that has answered the question a bit more than maybe that utilitarian question – do I get credit for my life experience?

Facilitator: Thanks, Cheri. So, Todd, would you like to share your insights, as well, along with Deb. Deb has shared with us her experience, what was it like going through the program as a working professional. And I know, when you were completing your degree, you were also working and you had, like, a lot of things going on. So can you share with us how you were able to manage all of that and the kind of support that was available to you in the program, Todd?

Todd: Be happy. Could you all hear me?

Facilitator: Yes.

Todd: Okay, great. Well, first of all, I have to say that my wife’s in the military. She’s a logistics officer in the army, and so we’ve moved three times during the program. So that was quite difficult, but I was able to keep up because, really, all the professors were really approachable, and if we had any questions whatsoever, we would post that question to the discussion board or send them an e-mail for and they were very quick to respond. All of them were that way. So that was extremely helpful to us, as students, to make sure that we are doing what we need to be doing. I would say that the most important thing is get down a pattern in the very first class – things that you need to do.

So, plan out your assignments, make sure that you have a calendar available, mark down your assignments and make sure that you’re following them because, if you get behind, it is very difficult to catch up, but if you stay ahead, then it makes for an easier transition into this program. So, that would be one piece of advice that I would give.

Facilitator: Great. And, Todd, which track did you follow? Was it the ADN to MSN track or the BSN to MSN track? And same for you, Debs.

Todd: I was ADN to MSN. And one of the reasons why I picked the University of Arizona was for that very reason. So it’s wonderful that you don’t have to take the necessarily all of the BSN courses before you get into the MSN program. It was – I hope I don’t speak wrong, but it was incorporated into the program already, so that was a wonderful thing, from my standpoint.

Debbie: [unintelligible 00:26:10] from AD to the MSN program. And pretty much the same reasons that you did, Todd. I knew I was focused, I knew what I wanted to accomplished and I wanted every course to be meaningful. I didn’t want to have to go through and take a lot of those BSN courses. And when you say that you moved three times, I will say that, on the East Coast, I was taking courses during Hurricane Sandy. And there was one point where we were without electricity, water, heat, and yet, with the coordination of students who I could text, who would post my questions on discussion boards for the professors, I was able to get through that.

So, it was an obstacle that – who knows, different obstacle who come up in work. But it was a workaround and everyone worked as a team and they helped me get through that period, which I thought for sure I’d fall behind. Thank goodness for cell phones.

Facilitator: Right.

Cheryl: This is Cheri and I have to tell you, on the faculty side, we actually watch the national weather map for just those occasion and we try to reach out to people if we think that they’re going to get some weather that might prevent them from moving forward in a course or finishing the course or whatever the case may be. So we were watching out for you.

Facilitator: Nice. And, Debs, when you were doing your research, like, what was it about the University of Arizona that jumped out at your and prompted you to select the program, RN to MSN program?

Debbie: I looked at a lot of programs, and there were programs that were specifically designed for diabetes, for master’s in diabetes education. But the reason I chose the University of Arizona is I wanted a broader-based education in the healthcare system. I already know about diabetes. I need to know about the whole system, I need to be more global with my education. And I felt that the University of Arizona, I looked at their curriculum, I looked at all the different courses they had, and you could take any of those courses and have it applied to any specialty that you wanted to, but it was just such a well-rounded, wide variety that would offer me more options.

And that’s the reason why I chose the University of Arizona. I also chose it because it’s a known quantity. You know, if I was going to invest my time and my money when I put it on my resume, I didn’t want someone to say, “Where’s that? What’s that? Is it a real school?” So, it has credibility. And, to me, that was important.

Facilitator: Thanks, Deb. And this question is for Cheri. Someone from L.A., California, has a question. How can this program be adapted to different care areas? For example, the questioner is an RN care manager for a primary care clinic, at the VA – how can this degree help my practice?

Cheryl: I actually think Deb answered that question in part, as well as Todd, as they’ve talked about sort of how they worked with a program and what that meant to them, but I think you have to think about what are you doing right now, in your care area, and what might you be able to do better if you had more information or perhaps deeper information or even a different perspective from a colleague who is practicing in a different area? So, there’s this level of innovative thinking that goes on with students and, a lot of times, students don’t necessarily know that it’s happening because it’s not really a particular, an assignment, per say, but it’s – you change your thinking and you shape your thinking.

For some people, they start off with one perspective and they’re very focused in where they would like to end up, and they end up taking a whole different pathway. And they end up different when they’re finishing up a program. And in quite a few statements that I’m aware of who shift positions, at some point in their trajectory in the program, and it could be going into different kind of manager positions, it could be climbing a ladder of increased accountability and authority in a system, so there’s lots of different avenues that get opened up to people.

So, yes, it will help your practice for right where you are and you can be a better leader from within and straight at the bedside or the chair side or wherever you are practicing, but it can also open lots of doors that you many not even be able to visualize, right now. And I think both Deb and Todd probably have had that happen or at least had some opportunities open up, that might not have opened up otherwise.

Deb: And I can share that I was just for diabetes, for primary care. And our specialty practice, cardiology, has said, “I like what you’re doing with diabetes. What can you do for us?” And that was their question. So, I thought about it and we looked at peripheral artery disease – diabetics are at risk for that. So, now, with cardiology, I’m doing screening and we’re also doing assessing for PAD. We have new equipment that was purchased because our program is successful. Then I’m now testing for, it’s called Skin Perfusion Pressure that I do with anyone who has signs and symptoms of PAD. As you asked me, before I started the program, would I be working with cardiology, doing their PAD screening? I’d say no. But business-wise and healthcare-wise, it makes perfect sense.

Facilitator: And just some of the concerns that our prospective students may have when considering going back to school is – do you feel like it’s possible to do well in this program? And this question’s for both Todd and [unintelligible 00:33:28], as well. While working fulltime, regardless of the shift, day, night, and family and everything else – do you think it’s possible? And how did you manage it?

Todd: I think it’s extremely possible that way that this program is set up. Everything’s laid out very [unintelligible 00:33:55] lay out those expectations so that us, as students, knew exactly what was on the horizon, what was immediately do, what was coming up and how to proceed about doing that. And again, like I said earlier, once you get into that rhythm, it makes your life a whole lot easier, so that you know that you have to make sure that you have your [additional] post do on Thursday and then you have to have your rebuttals due on Sunday. So, you always have that in your back of your mind so that you can plan around that to make sure that things are getting done.

And another important point is that most things are due at the end of the week. So it’s not most things aren’t due in the middle of the week and then, you know, you have to plan around that. Everything is due at the end of the week, so you can plan your time accordingly, which was definitely beneficial for me having work life and a family life and things of that nature.

Debbie: I’d have to agree with Todd that the program was laid out and the courses were laid out very logically. Each one built upon the other one and, within he course, it built upon within the course. You knew right at the very beginning of the course, if there was a big project that was due, you knew when it was due, we’ve broken down into manageable pieces, so it helps with time management. I think it’s very doable, as Todd said, to be very successful in this program and still maintain a successful career that you’re currently holding on to.

Facilitator: And how many hours would you say, per week, do you dedicate to your studies?

Todd: It’s really dependant on the class, to be honest with you. However, on average, you know, I tried to do a couple of hours a night so that I wouldn’t get behind. If you wait and push everything off to the last minute, you’re going to really struggle with that. But if you’re doing your readings and you’re keeping up with your posts and you’re doing your papers and projects ahead of time and you’re working on them ahead of time, it will be a lot more beneficial to you than if you have that procrastinating type of attitude, where you’re going to just wait until the end and try to knock out a 10-15-page page paper in a day. That becomes very difficult.

Facilitator: Thank you. And, Cheri, one of our audience has a question about the type of degrees and such, because he’s looking to obtain his MSN degree and he really sees himself as a, you know, his career projecting as a leader and definitely wants to have the MSN. So can you speak about the degree conferred for the program?

Cheryl: Yes. This, actually, we had multiple discussions with folks in the program, just recently about this. The degree on your diploma says Masters of Science in Nursing, and we’re in the process of dialoguing with the university to make that a little bit more official with the MSN. But, either way, it still is a master of science in nursing. Some people abbreviate that as MS, other people say MSN. It’s more logistics at the university level than the intent of the degree. And I know that is a huge consideration for people who are in magnet systems and in leadership positions in magnet systems. And that’s something that is very, very important to folks.

So, that’s the end degree. You know, for some people, it’s really semantics. This is all nursing and nursing-based and really much, much more. We do expand out from nursing because nursing is so diverse, and, really, nursing does bring in many other aspects of other disciplines to enrich how we think about nursing and how we affect healthcare. So, hopefully that answered that question.

Facilitator: And graduates are invited to come to Arizona to attend graduation, with the exact same degree awarded, correct?

Cheryl: Absolutely. You know, not everybody can make it to Tucson. But the folks who do, there’s this awesome sort of coming together with people who you have been working with for a year and a half, for two years, who you know virtually. But that sort of being present in one space, for some people, that’s extremely important and people have done all sorts of interesting social events, either before or after graduation – getting together with families. But there’s also this sense of community that does develop over time, in the course, through Skype and Google Hangout, where people can actually see each other. And, as Deb had talked about, there’s a texting network that is amazing amongst our students and telephone calls and lots of other ways to electronically communicate. So, I don’t know if Deb and Todd want to talk a little bit more about that –

Debbie: I think that – I know that the students that I worked with, for each course, and when you’re going along, you’re going to find that you have – you’ll see repeat, you get the same students. You get to know each other, you know how they work, how they think. And they’re there. Everyone’s looking to achieve the same goal – they want to graduate, they want to be successful. We all have experience, life experience, so the maturity level is there that they’re willing to help. You get stuck, you’ve got a lot of people. Not only the faculty, but you have this great network of students that will help you. You don’t understand something, you’re stuck, you just need to vent, at some point, they’re there.

So, I found it very, very helpful and reassuring that there were people that I could reach out to and that I looked forward to working with. I learned a great deal from many of the students.

Facilitator: Thank you. The next question’s for Todd. I know you mentioned this earlier, Todd, about how you enjoyed the program because you basically can go straight from the ADN to obtaining the MSN and skipping the BSN, but can you elaborate on that? – How it benefited you and why that was an advantage for you?

Todd: Absolutely. There were some programs that I looked at – I’ll just tell you. I looked at a program in Texas, University of Texas at Arlington, who have a similar degree program, but they ask you to take certain BSN courses prior to getting into the MSN program. So you can’t even get into the master’s program until you complete the bachelor’s, if you only have an associate’s degree. So, this program was different, where you went straight into the master’s degree and started from day one in the master’s program and not in a bachelor’s program that’s a bridge into the master’s program. So that was extremely beneficial to me and one that really one of the reasons why I chose the University of Arizona among others.

Debbie: And, if I can add, it saves time and it saves money.

Todd: Well, that goes without saying. Absolutely, it certainly does. Yes, ma’am.

Cheryl: And, Todd, this is Cheri. I appreciated you saying that both baccalaureate and the master’s knowledge is integrated. And we do that, hopefully, seamlessly in an approach that really brings people to a level of master’s thinking, but does that in a way that lays foundation and then really stretches you to think broader and deeper, which is really that master’s level. And basing that all on your experience, and that’s where the experience comes in, in giving you a context in which to do that.

Facilitator: So, the next question is – can you skip courses if you already have a BSN? So I’d like to just answer this question very briefly and our panelists can elaborate. We have two tracks, so if you already have your BSN, the program is actually shorter for you. You’re able to complete it within 15 months, with 31 credits. And if you don’t have the BSN and you only have the AND, like Deb and Todd, then you would be able to complete the program within two years, checking 44 credits. So, in short, yes. In a way you can kind of skip courses because, now, you’re reducing your program significantly if you already have your BSN. And, yeah. Deb, Todd, Cheri, if you’d like to add to that?

Debbie: [unintelligible 00:43:51] really quick.

Todd: Yeah. For me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoyed each and every course that I took and, you know, I didn’t have to go back and take a history course or a nutrition course or things of that nature. Everything was already built into the program, which was fantastic. And you know, you feel like you’re accomplishing something when you’re in the master’s program and not a bridge program.

Debbie: Every course was meaningful, adaptable and useful.

Facilitator: Great. Debbie, and this question’s for you – were you a diabetes educator before obtaining your MSN or did you get your CDE after your MSN?

Debbie: I had my CDE before I entered the program, but my goal was I wanted to sit of advanced diabetes management, become more certified in advanced diabetes management. And you needed to have a master’s degree, in order to sit for that test. So, that was my impetus for even looking into a master’s program. I will say that I achieved my goal. The program helped me tremendously because that test was not easy and it wasn’t just about nursing. You really needed to think at a master’s level, you needed to go beyond. And so, as I was taking the course, I was studying for this exam, as well, have to kind of space yourself. And the program, the certification, they accepted, without question, this is a master’s program. I sat for the exam with no hesitation.

Todd: I did something very similar. So, I just completed, last year, probably in December, I sat for the Board Certified Nurse Executive, and I was able to really breeze through that test because of my background within the MSN program. And I couldn’t have achieved that if I wasn’t in the MSN program and didn’t achieve my MSN. And secondly, I’d like to teach, further in the future, in my career, and can’t do that without an MSN. So that was another reason for me wanting to obtain my MSN. And, finally, you know, there’s a difference between being a manager and being a leader. You know, there’s certain folks that could be managers of particular nursing units, who are promoted up into those positions, but there’s a difference between being a manager and a leader. And this program really taught us how to be leaders in nursing. So, that’s another reason why I’m very grateful to have this degree.

Facilitator: Perfect.

Debbie: And just to tell you about the Advanced Board Certification in Diabetes – there’s only 1,400 in the country and the pass rate is about 65 percent. And I think, which kind of made me a little weary, but I think that this program taught me how to think like a leader, and that’s what this exam was really about because you are very specialized. And I think that’s one of the reasons that I passed was I had that foundation with this program.

Facilitator: Thank you. And speaking of leadership, so one of our audience is interested in leadership and management. Is this the right program for the individual and she has a BSN in operations, overseeing several multispecialty practices, and has not been in direct patient care for 15 years. So would you feel this program is right for her? And this is for Cheri, and then if Todd and Deb wish to add.

Cheryl: And I think, you know, that’s always an interesting question. I’ve worked with students who have not been involved in direct care but certainly been involved in influencing direct care for many, many years. So, you know, most people, if they’re invested in affecting care in a positive manner, they’re thinking like a clinician, but they’re also thinking like a leader. So you don’t have to be delivering direct care to be able to be successful in the program, but you do have to have that context of thinking as a direct care giver because there are so many level to lead into [such] change in a direct care environment. So, with that foundation, I’ll let Deb and Todd jump in.

Debbie: I’ll let you go, Todd, first.

Todd: Okay. Well, I definitely think that this will prepare as far as the leadership component to it, absolutely. There is a clinical component in the Capstone part of the program and that was beneficial, as well, but the overall emphasis of this program is that clinical nursing leadership, and it will serve you well to be in this program as opposed to a general MSN in a different university setting. This really has taught me how to be a transformational leader within my own department and I wouldn’t have been able to obtain that without this program. It’s certainly opened up some tremendous doors for me, in my career.

Debbie: And I agree. I think this program is ideal for anyone who wants to pursue leadership because, throughout all the courses that you’re taking, it just grooms you for a clinical leadership position. And you can be a clinical leader at the bedside, in the hospital, in an outpatient setting, in a community setting or in the corporate setting. Healthcare, you always have to have that clinical knowledge and be thinking of the patient. You have to think of your client who’s your customer, so that’s going to be important. But leadership is not something that you learn from a book. It’s something that you practice and we got a lot of practice through this program.

And you get to learn different aspects, different styles, you get to create and fine tune your own style and find out what works, what doesn’t work, when you need to stop and change direction, you need to be open. And you learn to take critique, you learn to give critique, and that’s all part of grooming you for a leadership position.

Facilitator: Thanks, Deb. And then, because we have two different tracks for ADNs and BSNs, do students study together? How is that setting like, Cheri, and then, of course, our graduates, as well.

Cheryl: In the courses, in the core courses in the program, there are a few courses that the ADN folks take exclusively. And the other core courses, which are [unintelligible 00:52:06] courses, people do study together and there’s benefit in learning from each other in different perspectives and, you know, I will leave it to Deb and Todd to see if you all felt that that was beneficial or perhaps challenging or a little bit of both.

Debbie: I enjoyed it, learned from everyone. You know, BSNs learn from the ADs, the ADs learn from the BSNs. And probably, if you didn’t know one from the other, you couldn’t tell because the courses that you are taking were taking you to that next level and everyone was going to that next level together.

Todd: I completely agree. If no one told you if you’re ADN or BSN, you couldn’t tell the difference. The material was geared for both backgrounds, and not having a BSN did not affect the way that I learned within the MSN program. The folks that had the Bachelor’s, they would probably say the same thing. So I agree with Debbie that if you didn’t know, if they didn’t tell you, you didn’t share that you’re an ADN or a BSN, you wouldn’t know.

Facilitator: Great. We have some questions regarding the Capstone project because I know it’s a very major and important component of the program. So, Cheri, I guess we can start with you on what the Capstone’s about and then, Todd and Deb, you’re going to share your insights as students going through that project, what benefit has garnered for you.

Cheryl: The Capstone course itself has many different dimensions. It has a clinical population focus to mention, which is a trajectory that’s mostly individual work. And then that is very closely paired with the capstone project itself, which is a small group leadership project in which students come together in a small group and put together a multidimensional, multifaceted approach to care management of a certain population that they’ve selected to work together on. And, with that foundation, I’m going to turn it over to Todd and Deb to talk a little bit about what they actually did in the Capstone project.

Deb: Okay, Todd, I’ll you go. I’m curious to hear what yours is about.

Todd: Oh, okay. Great. Ours was a project that we put together, where we were trying to decrease – oh gosh, I’m blanking right now – the readmissions for CHF patients. And so we developed a program where we used telehealth and EMS personnel to go out to the patient’s home, after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. Within 24 to 48 hours, EMS would go into their home, do a physical assessment while, at the same time, using telehealth to speak with a provider back in the cardiovascular clinic about where they’re at, how they’re doing, and they could have an office visit right there, in their own home.

So, we did that for the sole purpose, as I mentioned, to decrease readmission rates of CHF, which is pretty prevalent. Even at the hospital that I work at, it’s pretty prevalent. So, one of the hospital’s that I worked at before I moved here, in Missouri, a sister hospital actually took the bones of this project that we did and really developed something, real life, in their hospital, to treat their CHF patients. So it wasn’t exactly what we came up with, but they did a version of that. And so there’s real life application to what you do with this project, in the Capstone course. So it was a phenomenal experience in working with the colleagues there.

We gained tremendous amount of knowledge about various things, about CHF itself, about how to treat that, how to combat readmissions and things of that nature. So, the Capstone project was probably, well, it was the pinnacle of the program, but it was a huge learning experience for me, personally.

Debbie: And our program was transitioning the young adult type I diabetic from the acute care out to the community and into primary care because it involves – and I’m not in acute care. I’m in the primary care setting, so, for me, I got to learn from my fellow students more what happens inside the hospital and how they transition this population. And it was very eye-opening and you would think that, as a diabetes educator, it would be easy, but there were so many facets that I learned, that it wasn’t just about the disease. You have this young adult who’s been cared for by their parents, by their providers. Now, all of a sudden, they’re on their own, they make their own decisions. You have to worry about finances – do they have insurance, can they afford insurance?

You have their social – “I want to be like my friends, so I’m not going to take my insulin, I’m not going to take care of myself.” How do you transition them, let them keep their independence, deal with the psych-social issues, deal with the financial issue, deal with transportation and communicate from a paediatric setting, now to an adult care setting. So, it was very enlightening to me, I learned a great deal, but we and to learn the business aspect, we had to bring that into it because these were not high paying patients, so how are we going to cover it. The hospital end, you don’t want to have readmissions. How are you going to coordinate between the Ps and the adults? So it was a very complete program that we did and I was fortunate, we had an ICU nurse, who I learned a great deal from, who deals with DKA all the time.

And I always deal with them after they’ve been out of DKA. And so what I took from that is, after that whole program, I started contacting some of our local [unintelligible 01:00:09] and saying, “Hey, what do you do to transition your patients? You know, don’t wait until they turn 18. Maybe start introducing them sooner,” as we had discussed in our project. So, it’s something that you can make come alive and be meaningful to you in your work because even though the other people in the project weren’t diabetes educators, they were able to say, “Hey, this is what we can do from our end.” And it was just a very rewarding, when you came to the conclusion and you got to present program, you’re like, “Hey, you know, we pulled this together from scratch.”

So it’s a very worthwhile program to go through and process. And it is a process because, sometimes, you become so invested that you need to know, “You know what, this isn’t going anywhere. I need to step back and we need to start over.” And learning that when it’s time to say, “It’s not working,” because you can get caught up in your own investment. Like, “God, I’ve put so much time and effort into this, I have to make it work,” when, in reality, it’s going to.

Facilitator: So, Deb, to continue the Capstone project, is it very a research, a real practice based, at the time they’re completed?

Debbie: It’s both. It is both. You want to bring in the practical, your every day, but you do need to do research. And the research is good because sometimes we get [in a rot] and we think we know what’s right and we think we know what’s best. When you start doing research and you start brainstorming with other nurses and other people in your group, you’re kind of like, “Hey, I never thought of it from that end.” So the research becomes exciting and I know that our group really wanted to do the research because, then, we had an idea and we could say, “You know, this is how it’s going to work. We’ve done the background on this. It can work.”

Todd: It’s completely based in evidence-based practice, and that was the driving point to our project, to everyone’s project, is basing that in evidence-based practice, in being able to take that research and then turn it into a practical application.

Facilitator: Thanks so much. So, we’re just a few minutes over time and I really thank our audience for your attention, today. Any final thoughts for us, Cheri, Deb or Todd, before we go into information regarding our upcoming sessions?

Todd: I just wish everybody good luck. I’m always available for resource so, Kira, you have my information. If anybody wants to talk with me offline about anything or if they get into the program and have questions, I would always be available as a resource.

Debbie: And I’d like to also allow myself to be a resource. And the one thing I can say is if you don’t do anything today, in two years, you’ll be in the same place or, 15 months, you’ll be in the same place. So I think just by exploring and looking at programs, I think you know what your answer is. It’s important to you, so don’t waste time, from the 60-year old. But I’m a young 60, aren’t I, Cheri.

Cheryl: Absolutely, absolutely. I think my wise words of wisdom are along the lines of what Todd and Deb said, that if you’re truly interested and you’re exploring, one of many characterizes of being a leader is taking a risk and really being thoughtful, but taking a risk. And for most people, when they enter a graduate program, there is a lot of risk taking because there’s some uncertainty there, but if you don’t take the risk, you’ll never know where you’re going to end up. And I wish you well on your search and your journey to find exactly where you think you might want to be and how you think you might want to get there. So, I look forward to seeing some of you, soon.


Facilitator: Thank you so much, Cheri. And that was our program director. And, on behalf of everyone, thank you to our panelists for your sights and for spending the hour with us, and also to everyone in our audience, today, for your questions. I hope the webinar has been beneficial to your and our enrollment advisor team is a team of, you know, lovely ladies who will be here to assist. And they really care about your success and they’re here to help you carve out the best path for you. They can be reached at 1-855-789-7046. And, also, the e-mail address is on your screen. I hope you will be able to join the university of Arizona alumni network – it’s growing strong every year.

And the upcoming start date is summer, which is May 2nd. We are currently accepting applications. Reach out to our team of advisors and they’ll be able to help you look at your transcripts to determine your eligibility and to assess what your needs are. So, if you’re currently an ADN with experience or a BSN looking to complete your MSN for leadership track, this would be the program for you. And, hopefully, based on what you’ve been hearing from our panelists, that you find it to be true. But if you want more information, please visit our website, as well. I’m going to be sending you the link, momentarily. And thank you once again, everyone, for you attendance today and have a great rest of the week. And we’ll see you again in our upcoming webinar. Thank you.

Todd: Thank you.

Cheryl: Thank you.

Debbie: Thank you.

Facilitator: Bye, everyone.

Debbie: Thank you.

Cheryl: Thank you.

[End of recorded material 01:07:07]

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