Online RN to MSN
Clinical Systems Leadership

Online RN to MSN Program Overview

This information session is an opportunity for you to learn more about the fully-online RN to MSN program directly from the Program Director and key stakeholders involved in its conception. In particular, our panelists discuss the curriculum, learning outcomes and admission requirements in detail, concluding with a review of the application process and how your Enrollment Advisor is here to assist you from start to finish. This session provides valuable insight into the program and what it will be like as a student, so whether you are still evaluating the program or have already applied, there’s something for everyone!


Amanda Walter: Okay, let’s get started. Again, a few people will probably still join us but we can go ahead and get started talking about some of the key logistics for today’s webinar. I just wanted to introduce myself to start. My name is Amanda. I’ll be moderating today’s webinar and of course I wanted to think you all for taking the time to join us for our discussion about the online RN to MSN program.

Before we do begin I just wanted to point out some logistics for the webinar. The webinar will last for 30 minutes to one hour at most. We know it’s a tight timeframe for everyone so we don’t want to keep you too long. I have set everyone into listen-only mode to minimise background noise. We also will have an interactive Q&A session at the very end of the webinar so if you have any questions feel free to submit them to me at any time by using the chat window on the right-hand side of your screen. I will collect everyone’s questions and reserve those to the very end of the webinar and of course then I’ll read people’s questions out loud for our panellists to respond to. And finally our webinar today is being recorded so if you miss anything don’t worry. Just follow up with your enrolment advisor and they’ll be able to share a link to the recording with you.

Just to introduce everyone. We have a number of different panellists. It includes Cheri Lacasse and Ki Moore from the College of Nursing; Tom Dickson from the Office of Student Affairs; and Shernaz Kennedy, an enrolment advisor for the online program. Cheri’s a clinical professor in the college’s biobehavioural health sciences division and is also the program coordinator for the new RN to MSN program.

Ki’s a professor and director of the biobehavioural health science division and she also serves as a faculty administrator for the RN to MSN program. Both Cheri and Ki work closely with Dean Shaver and have been instrumental in the conception, development of the online RN to MSN program. They have both focused their careers on improving treatment outcomes and the quality of patient care, so Cheri and Ki both bring a wealth of evidence-based experience to the program.

As I mentioned, Tom is the director of student affairs. His office collaborates with the college of nursing to support our educational mission by offering students personal advising and academic support as they pursue their degree with the University of Arizona. Tom and the office of student affairs play a key role in ensuring you have an exceptional student experience so you get the most out of your program.

And last but not least, Shernaz Kennedy is joining us to explain the advisor’s role in helping applicant’s evaluate the program and also how they go through the application process. I’ll just go over the agenda really quickly. Tom’s going to start things off by telling us about the University of Arizona and the College of Nursing. Cheri and Ki will also talk about the College of Nursing and they will delve into some industry trends, how these affect nurses and specifically how the program addresses these to empower a new generation of nurse leaders.

Tom and Shernaz will then go into some of the program specifics, such as the admission criteria, what the application process looks like, and what to do next to set things in motion. They’ll also talk about financial aid and various financing options. And as I mentioned, there will be an interactive Q&A session at the very end of the webinar today. Again, feel free to submit your questions to me in the chat window on the right-hand side of your screen and I’ll reserve those for the end and have our panellist respond to them accordingly. So thanks again for taking the time to join us and I’d like to turn things over to Tom now. Tom, go ahead.

Tom Dickson: Thank you. Let me tell you a little bit about the University of Arizona and the College of Nursing. You see the three tagline words on our PowerPoint slide right here: envision, engage and innovate. But know that this is far more than just a tagline for the College of Nursing. These are the primary principles of how we operate and how we do our work here at the College of Nursing, whether this is in teaching or research, outreach, student engagement, access and quality; all of these are defining attributes of our mission and are integral to how we operate.

The College of Nursing itself is ranked in the Top 6 percent of schools of nursing by the US News and World Report. We were ranked No. 7 in the nation by the National Research Council. We were the first PhD program west of the Mississippi. We had the first School of Nursing here in the state of Arizona and we have a very long history of nursing online education with both or our doctor/nursing practice and PhD nursing programs.

The College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate and Nursing Education. The programs are all approved by the Arizona State Board of Nursing and we’re affiliated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Western Institute of Nursing. Here at the college we certainly focus on patient-centred education, research and scholarship and I know Ki and Cheri will certainly talk to you more about that later.

And we also have a very robust alumni base. Our students are all over the country and all over the world. So far we have over 6100 nurse alumni from our various programs and certainly look forward to adding you to those ranks.

Amanda Walter: Great, thank you Tom. And now I’m going to turn things over to Ki and Cheri. They’ll answer some of the same things that Tom spoke about with our key tagline: Vision, engage innovate, and what it really means to them. And that also talks about what it means to be a Wildcat. And I’m just unmuting both Cheri and Ki right now. Okay, go ahead.

Cheri Lacasse: Okay. One of the things that we have a lot of pride in here is being a Wildcat nurse and what that really means is to lay a firm foundation, which is Wildcat tradition, in nursing and to really have not only good hearty experiences but also a sound framework for good decision making, whether it be at the entry level, at the bedside, or in leading groups or perhaps forming a healthcare system in nursing.

We also really focus on having the courage not only to embrace uncertainly but to move forward in uncertain times and we certainly have that now in healthcare. And to be on the forefront of really being trailblazers and not only having foresight to run down new paths but really do the trailblazing that is necessary to move things forward, move healthcare forward, move really our patient care and the quality of our patient care forward.

And also have that passion and commitment to move change forward; not only having an idea but to really move that along and really knowing that, you know, it may not be the easiest thing in the world but knowing that we are going to make a positive change. And that’s primarily what we embrace as being a Wildcat nurse. And I’m going to turn it over to Ki to add her thoughts on that as well.

Ki Moore: Thank you. And this is Ki and welcome to all of you who have joined us today to learn more about the program. We’re really excited about the program and about your potential to join us as a student. In addition to Tom’s comment that we’re in the Top 6 percent of all colleges of nursing, for our entry programs, our NCLEX pass rates, which I know you’ve already met that hurdle, are way out in front. Our first-time NCLEX pass rates exceed 94 percent and usually about 95 to 96 percent, which speaks to the quality of the education we give our students.

At the graduate level, many of our students are leaders in either academics or in healthcare fields and service settings. Our faculty are compassionate about teaching, discovery, and leadership and I think you’ll experience their passion for teaching when you’re in the classes and you’ll see the many contributions that you can make to leading the healthcare field as a graduate of this program.

So we’re leaders in innovation, we seek and engage change and we want you to be one of our Wildcat alum.

Amanda Walter: Excellent, thank you. And let’s turn this over to Cheri then to kind of delve into some things that are going on in the industry right now.

Cheri Lacasse: As we look at the healthcare industry, literally on a daily basis we hear in the news some different change or some innovation that’s happening in healthcare, so we’ve been living in the chaos of change in innovation in healthcare for a while now, but we’re also on the cutting edge of looking at new models of healthcare delivery. One of those models really emphasises our ability as healthcare providers to coordinate care and to manage populations of patients.

And one of the things that is really emphasised is looking at rewarding healthcare systems for health as opposed to disease management. And embedded in all that is the focus on patient-centred care, patient-centred healing, looking at healing environments, so really putting the patient in the middle of the healthcare delivery that they receive and truly putting them in the driver’s seat and having a support team built around them, not only of their own family and their own supports, but of the healthcare system at large.

Nurses right now are poised at the forefront of having a very strong voice and really guiding and creating new ways of delivering care. And in the next year to three years nurses will be poised to be able to make a huge impact on the future of healthcare and the future of health with all of our patient populations wherever we may practice. We also have been living with the evolution of quality and safety and that continues to be really in the forefront of everything that we do for our patients.

And we’re having to do that in a creative way, utilising very scarce resources and being thoughtful about how we work with members of the healthcare team and how we look at and measure the overall impact of all of our efforts in health and wellness care on our patients and their families.

So the University of Arizona College of Nursing is, as you’ve heard explained already, is very creative in our thoughts and very mindful about how can we prepare our nurses for the future. We’re very, very interested in, not only preparing people at entry level, but taking people who’ve been in the field for a while, basing our education process on the experience and expertise that people bring to the table, whether it be for the master’s prepared nurse or for at the doctoral level, and saying we value what you bring in our experience and we want you to start to look at things perhaps in a way that you’ve never looked at them before and we want to give you the tools and the credentials to make a difference, to feel like you actually deserve a seat at the table to be able to actuate change in the healthcare system.

And what I’ve heard from our first group that we just finished our first class is that they thought that they knew a lot of the things that were going on in healthcare and they have a whole different perspective on that, so this is the kinds of things that we bring to the table with our new and innovate programs that we create here at the College of Nursing and specifically with the RN to MSN program.

So the next slide says what will I learn and that’s probably a question that many of you have. This is a very unique program. We have courses that sound traditional maybe but certainly delve into some of the innovative approaches to healthcare as it’s changing. We have not only a new way to learn, and that’s the online environment, and looking at how do you use that to learn, but also how do you weave in all the different things that you need to learn to be a leader in healthcare.

So we are going to be covering things like utilisation of health promotion, utilisation of healthcare technologies, perhaps how do the two weave together to make an impact on healthcare. You’ll be learning principles of quality and safety; you’ll be learning how to take the evidence base that we currently have and the science of nursing and pulling together the resources, coordinating information, and putting it together so that you’ll learn how to evaluate patient care systems and perhaps create different ways of looking at healthcare delivery.

So there’s many different things that you’ll be learning. The other thing that’s somewhat unique about this program is a focus on patient-centred care in healing environments and how does that all weave together with the business of healthcare, with the politics of healthcare, and the quality and safety outcomes that we all look for in our patient care.

So some of you may be asking is this program right for me; how can this help me in my current position? Well, one of the things that you’ll find going through this particular program is that it will help you expand your viewpoint, look at things that you’ve always looked at in a very different way and have new respect, new thoughts about how you might be able to do things different, how you might be able to make maybe a bigger impact in the current system that you’re in or perhaps looking at thinking bigger in how can I make an impact beyond the current small system that I’m working in.

It’s going to open up new professional opportunities for you, so things like leading a group of staff in looking at a population and how you might be able to really have an impact, maybe on your unit or in the service that you might be looking at patient groups in. The other thing about this program that I think is very unique is it’s flexible. When you talk about online learning, there’s so many different ways to flex and even though you need to be very organised in your approach to the learning, you can do it at any time.

And, in fact, the last group of students that I just finished with, they were online at any given point in time at each point in the 24-hour clock. We had people who were doing day shift, we had people who were doing 12-hour days, we had people who were doing flexible schedules, we had people who were on nights, we had people who were doing day/night rotation, we had people with traditional business schedules, so it really provides maximum flexibility for the learner.

And it’s also going to provide you with a broad base for healthcare leadership, so not just healthcare management per se, not just being a manager of a unit, but it will provide you with much, much more in a much broader scope of what you might be able to do. And I’d like to turn it over to Ki to expand on that.

Ki Moore: Thank you, Cheri. And thanks for the opportunity to add a few thoughts. I think Cheri did a wonderful job talking to you about what this program can offer you. And clearly, the opportunity for leadership in your organisation or in some healthcare environment is certainly an outcome we would hope you would accomplish.

I think the program also gives you an in-depth perspective on the evaluating evidence-based practise and evaluating the best way to delivery care to a group of patients. And another exciting thing is we have a focus on holistic care. There is a course on healing environments that talks about other approaches to healing that are complementary rather than sort of more traditional, what we think of as Western medicine, so the program not only prepares you for leadership and advanced practice or evidence-based practice, but gives you the opportunity to think a little bit more broadly about the role of nursing in delivering holistic care.

So the next slide talks about the program structure and if we could have the next slide, we’ll talk about how the program is structured. Amanda, could we have the next slide, please.

Amanda Walter: Yeah, I was just going to interject. I did advance the slide. Let me refresh everyone’s screens here and hopefully that will update everything. Are you able to see the slide now? The title of the slide is, “What can I expect?”

Ki Moore: Not me. What can I expect? You know, I’m going to let Cheri start because I’m not seeing that slide on my screen. I’m sorry, I have it. So Cheri, I’ll start. Thank you, Amanda.

Ki Moore: And then you can pick up. So we’ve worked hard, as Cheri has said, to structure this program in a way that will meet the needs of a working professional nurse. And so we’ve done that…in doing so, it’s a more creative way of delivering courses. The program is offered three times a year, so you can start the program any one of three different times during the year, so we have three terms to begin. The total number of credits is from 44 to 47 and the difference is if you need a statistics course.

If you have a basic statistics course in the last five years, you don’t need to take our statistics course, although we have a wonderful online statistics course. We find about 50 percent of students need the course and that course does go over 16 weeks. All of the other courses are offered in eight-week blocks with the exception of the Capstone Experience at the end. And they’re offered in eight-week blocks in such a way that students can take more concentrated study, but take fewer courses at a time.

So there are two foundational courses. It’s called Foundations of Nursing Practice, and Evidence Based Practice. And then after that the courses are offered in what we call a carousel and there’s no prereqs, so whatever courses come up and are available in these eight-week blocks, you can take. And then the final course is the 16-week Capstone Experience.

If you maintain the program at what we would consider full time, you can finish in two years. One of the advantages of having this carousel approach where courses are offered in eight-week blocks is if you need to stop out for a term for some work or personal-related things that make it impossible for you to dedicate as much time to the courses, you can stop out for that eight weeks but then you can get right back on the carousel and take whatever course is being offered.

So some of the unique advantages of how we design the courses in eight-week blocks on this carousel model where there are no prereqs, with the exception of the first two courses, and then you can take the courses in any sequence. You can finish in two years and the courses are offered online, as Cheri said, so that you can work the course work around your work schedule. I’m going to turn it over to Cheri for some more details.

Cheri Lacasse: Thank you, Ki. One of the things that we found is that because it’s 100 percent online, a lot of times students may be thinking gee am I ever going to see an instructor or professor. And we use a very interactive approach online so that there will be an instructor presence, faculty presence, throughout the course. Again, as Ki described, each course is eight weeks long and throughout that, each week of the eight weeks faculty will be interacting with students.

We have ongoing discussions about a variety of topics in each course and the faculty is right there, not only listening to the discussion online but also interacting with students and asking questions as if you were all in a classroom together. So it’s a very different approach to learning if you’ve not been an online learner, but very unique and very, very interactive and very personal. And you do get to know your classmates in a virtual sense very well. Each class has introductions so you know who’s in the course, who’s in your section and what they bring, what you can bring to the learning experience.

It’s a very interactive and engaging learning experience, so you don’t just read articles and write something on the discussion board. You’re somewhat in a constant thought process about the different topics and what I’ve found with students is that not only are they reading and discussing, but then they’re going back to their workplace and saying gee what about this. And then they bring those experiences back to the discussion board within the week, so it’s a very interactive situation where you engage in the learning process, you’re applying the learning.

And then periodically, as you would see in each classroom, there’s some evaluation activities and those activities could take a variety of different forms. For some courses you’ll be taking quizzes online; for other courses you’ll be writing mini papers; for other courses you might be doing presentations and these could happen in a combination within one course as well.

Some courses will have group projects so you’ll learn how to work with a group of folks online. One of the nice things that we’ve built into this is not only will you get that education, but you’re also going to be building a leadership skill competency toolbox if you will. So each course will build on each other as far as allowing you to try out new or perhaps hone some leadership skills that you do have and we built in leadership skill development all the way throughout the program so that when you get to the end of the program and you would be in your leadership immersion experience, you get a chance to work with an experienced leader in the field, or a mentor as we call them for this experience.

And you’re going to be able to try out a lot of your leadership skills that you’ve developed along the way in that Capstone Experience, so we’re very excited about what that will bring to your future success as a leader. Each course, again as Ki said, are not attached to each other, so you’ll be taking them just as they come up in their availability. And at the end you’ll be able to take them all and put them together in a meaningful way for you as a leader in how you envision yourself in a leadership role in the future.

Amanda Walter: Okay, great. That was an excellent overview. Thank you. Let’s turn things over to Tom now to talk a little bit more about the admissions process and requirements. Tom go ahead.

Tom Dickson: Okay. Application and admissions information. The first thing you need to know is that you need to have two years of clinical experience. You need to have an associate degree in nursing from a National League for Nursing, NLN recognised educational institution. You need to have a minimum 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the last 30 semester credit units.

Now this is primarily focusing on your nursing education. You must also have an active, unencumbered RN license. The actual official application itself requires that you turn in official transcripts from every college or university attended a well as a $75 application fee to our graduate college who handles all of your admissions processings here at the university.

Amanda Walter: Okay. And now I’d like to introduce Shernaz Kennedy, the enrollment advisor who will be talking about what her role is as well as the other advisors and what that application process looks like.

Shernaz Kennedy: Thank you, Amanda. Hi everybody. I’m Shernaz Kennedy, the senior enrollment advisor with this program and I have two other seasoned advisors on my team: Simone Brown and Alicia Singh. What is our role as an enrolment advisor? When you contact us, you will speak to one of us and as an advisor we will get to know you. We will answer all your questions on the program and assist you through the admissions process if you decide that this program is a good fit for you.

With us, each applicant gets an individual and personalised experience right through the admissions process. Your enrolment advisor is not here just to take care of your application. We are your point of contact with the university throughout the entire admissions process. We provide you with information on the program and we help you to evaluate whether this program is a good fit for you based on your career goals.

Please feel free to ask us any questions or concerns that you might have regarding the program. We also establish in our initial conversation with you whether you meet the minimum application requirements before proceeding with any submission of application. And once you meet those requirements, we assist you through the entire process.

Now what’s our application process like? We have a process for predetermining if you meet the admissions criteria and we start with asking you for an unofficial transcript to do your GPA calculation. As Tom said earlier, we require you to have a 3.0 or higher over the last 30 credit hours of your associate degree in nursing. We require to look at your unencumbered RN license and during our conversation with you, we will establish if you have been an RN long enough because our minimum requirement is two full-time years as an RN.

Once you’ve finished that and established that you have the necessary qualifications, we will provide you with simple instructions for some stuff that you need to do before you start your application process online with us. We will send these to you either by email or we will talk to you about them. Some documents are required for you to be saved on your computer in a simple Word format or a PDF format, and this is a prior requirement simply because it helps you to have a stress-free application when you do it online.

The documents that you require to save on your computer are your RN license, your associate’s degree transcripts–these should be from each and every school that you did those credits in. And we will also provide you with a form called, “The statement of work hours,” which you will sign and complete and save to your desktop as well as send back to us as your advisors.

Once you complete that, we will do an appointment with you to do the actual application online. Please make sure that when that appointment is fixed, don’t miss it because rescheduling it become difficult as the deadline gets closer. You can download a free program called “Join me in advance,” which we use to do the application with you and guide you through the application form.

Once you complete your form with your enrolment advisor, you will pay the $75 application fee. This is very secure and it’s done by credit card and you can also save and print your receipt. We will also ask you to send your official transcripts by mail to our processing centre address.

Now what are the next steps and what should you expect next as an applicant? It takes your file about two weeks to be reviewed and as an enrolment advisor, we will keep in touch with you and let you know when and if you are accepted. This time period is very good for you to complete any financial aid process, you know, if you’re taking federal government loans. If you have not already done so, this is a time to complete that. Once you’re accepted into the program, as your enrolment advisor, we will put you in touch with the contact people for financial aid within the university.

Once you’re accepted into the program, the next steps are also as follows: Your enrolment advisor will arrange a welcome call appointment for you with your student services advisor who is the next person who will assist you in this process. Your student services advisor will contact you for that welcome appointment and will talk to you about the next steps, will assist you with information on your books, your orientation, and your registration.

Can we have the next slide, Amanda, please? Now let’s talk about the tuition and the fees. For 2013 currently our tuition is $729 per credit hour. As explained to you earlier, your program would have either 44 or 47 total credits and that’s the way you calculate the tuition. You do have certain fees per semester which are information technology fees, library fees, and the Arizona Financial Aid Trust fee.

Your course materials, that is your books, etcetera, will cost you average between $100 and $200 per course. In terms of your general payment information, your fees are usually due within the first week of classes. Financial aid is available to you if you want to process the federal government loan and for any individual payment plans, whether you would like to pay per semester, or any other arrangements. You should discuss what your requirements or your needs are with your admissions advisor.

And now I’ll hand it over to Tom for the financing options.

Tom Dickson: Thank you. I was just unmuting myself. So for financing options, if you’re interesting in using federal loans or grants, you would want to make sure, first and foremost, that you fill our your FAFSA. You can do so by following the link to your right, Please know that if you are starting in a summer term you need to fill out the 2012/2013 FAFSA. If you are starting in the fall term or forward, you need to fill out the 2013/2014 FAFSA.

Beyond that, the university, the office of scholarships and financial aid has a dedicated financial aid representative. Her name is Jonie Ritzki. Her contact information is there on the right-hand side, 520-621-1858, or She can answer any specific questions for nursing students. She is our nursing representative in the financial aid office.

We also have options available for students through the VA and Yellow Ribbon Programs. If you’re interested in following up with some of those options, contact our UA veteran services office and you can see their contact information there on the right-hand side of your screen, 520-621-9501.

There may also be some other alterative financing available: Outside loans, employer sponsored tuition assistance, and other possible options that may be available. One additional option available through the University of Arizona is Scholarship Universe, which is just and you can go onto Scholarship Universe after being admitted to the university and you can fill out information that is part of this clearing house of scholarships and it’ll help you identify and apply for scholarships from a wide ranging set of options and locations and will help open up a variety of opportunities for you for scholarship aid.

Amanda Walter: Okay. And let’s turn things over now to the Q&A session. We’ve had a number of different questions come in, some great feedback so far. We’ll start with some of the application requirements and some of the program, I guess, specifics or structure. Maybe Tom, could you respond to this person. They’re wondering about the transcripts that are required from the different colleges. If someone’s taken a few courses online from an online university, do they need to submit those transcripts as well?

Tom Dickson: You would need to submit all transcripts from all post-secondary education institutions, so any college or university that you’ve attended, even if it was one class, even it was dual enrolment from high school and you received credit from your local community college. Every single one of those options you would need to submit transcripts for every single one of those institutions.

Amanda Walter: Okay, thanks. And kind of along the same sort of lines, for the stats course, will any college level stats course satisfy the requirement or is there something specific?

Tom Dickson: I was going to say I would probably have Cheri or Ki best answer that question.

Ki Moore: The statistics course is a general overview of statistics. It’s a basic statistics course and it’s being taught by one of our faculty, Dr. Rafaela Silva, who has a PhD in epidemiology with a minor in statistics. If you have not taken a statistic course within the past five years, you would need to take this course. If you have taken a statistics course in the past five years, that is generally acceptable. We find sometimes students just really appreciate the refresh because it’s not necessarily content that you carry with you all the time and you do need that content for the course work.

But unless Cheri has something else to add, as a general rule, a general three-credit statistics course within the last five years from an accredited school is acceptable. Cheri, do you have anything to add?

Cheri Lacasse: Yeah, I’d just like to add that one of the reasons why we have that requirement is that the basis of understanding the statistics is going to be used periodically throughout the coursework so having a good understanding of basic statistics is going to be key in looking at things like our evidence based practice research studies that you might be looking at, quality and safety data. There’s many, many things that will weave through those principles, so that’s one of the reasons why we’re very…we want to encourage you to have what we call recent statistics knowledge.

Amanda Walter: Thanks. And maybe along those same lines, if someone earns their undergrad or their ADN, you know, several years ago, ten, twenty years ago, is there any other courses that they would need to repeat?

Cheri Lacasse: We don’t have that requirement, so that there is general knowledge out there and the other thing that, you know, this program we’ve put a lot of thought into the basic nursing education that you have and that ongoing nursing education that everyone has when they’re out in practice so that, you know, healthcare is changing all the time. There’s a lot of in-services that happen, there’s a lot of education that happens of nurses wherever they’re practicing, whatever they’re setting, so that’s on the job education. And there’s no formal courses other than that that we require.

Amanda Walter: And I think, you know, good point to just kind of build off of that is maybe that would also answer some of the other questions coming is just in terms of the program structure. Like you said, Cheri, I really respect people’s, you know, experience. One of the key differences between this program and, for example, a BSN program is that the BSN program may actually be more credits than this because it does have a lot more of the undergrad level courses.

I’ve seen a number of questions come in asking about that, so I just thought I would point that out, that this one really, the key point is that we’re respecting the experience you already have within the industry, so we’re not asking you to repeat those kinds of courses.

Cheri Lacasse: Right. And I think a point of emphasis is this is really focused on looking at building people’s skills and abilities in clinical systems leadership. It’s not preparing someone to be an advanced practice clinician, so I think the focus everyone has to be real clear on the understanding of the focus of this particular education program, which is a big difference and I think the other question that always come up is do we have to have a BSN along the way.

And, you know, in our current healthcare thinking and educational thinking, you know, a lot of those building blocks have already been placed and this is building on the experience that you have in the field and being very respectful of that clinical experience which is so rich for building additional leadership potential onto and skills and abilities.

Amanda Walter: Okay perfect. And another question, someone’s wondering if they have several years of RN experience, but have been working outside the clinical setting, you know, they haven’t been in the clinical settings within the last five years. They’re just wondering if they would still qualify because the admission requirement did say, you know, two out of the last five years to be in an RN type role.

Cheri Lacasse: Ki, did you want to speak to that?

Ki Moore: I think that what our goal is that the students have a working knowledge of current practice in order to apply that to the course work. We, however, want to be flexible and look at different modalities of practice, and so what I would say is that we would kind of look at that on an individual basis, but we do want the student to have current clinical knowledge in order to fully take advantage of the course work. But Cheri, please expand on that.

Cheri Lacasse: Thanks, Ki. One of the things that we really were very thoughtful about is we wanted people to be broad-based in our acceptance of them in a role of a practising nurse and as many folks know, nurses can practice in a wide variety of areas, so it doesn’t have to be in what we call a traditional nursing role. If you’re practicing as a nurse, that positions you in a very unique situation, perhaps in a non-traditional area, to be able to use that and to also be able to enlighten your classmates as well.

So we do embrace people who are practicing in different roles and, in fact, right now I just finished working with a student who is working as a case manager in the insurance field. Not that that’s a non-traditional role, but it’s very different than where we think of the bulk of nurses practicing. So hopefully that answered the question or at least gave people some things to think about.

Amanda Walter: Definitely. And let’s get into a little bit more about what it’s like to be an online student. Maybe Cheri and Ki, if you could just kind of talk a little bit about how things are going so far and what a day-to-day cycle might look like for a student.

Ki Moore: Cheri, can you take the lead since you just…

Cheri Lacasse: Sure. One of the things that, if you think about being a general student, you would come to campus, go to your class, perhaps go to the library, maybe get a cup of coffee with a fellow student and then be on your way. The next day in the week you might have a full work schedule. With online, it’s not that much different except you’re doing your own scheduling in front of your computer.

So you’re interacting; we encourage students to at least log on on a daily basis. Sometimes that’s not possible and that’s okay, but logging on just once a week is probably not going to be enough. The other thing that I found is, as people got more and more engaged in the course work, they wanted to be on the discussion board because the question in everybody’s mind is something may be going on that I’m missing, so they were really excited about being part of an ongoing discussion about the various topics that we talk about and the various topics that people are learning.

So a day in the life or a week in the life of an online student is going to look very different depending on what you’re doing, what your work schedule looks like, but there are going to be things that you can always count on. For example, all of our courses, the educational week starts on a Monday and it ends on a Sunday, so that’s what that particular week cycle looks like. There will be due dates in the middle of the week for discussions and then there will be due dates at the end of the week for various projects that may be needed to really…for people to know that they’re a bit able to apply the information and for some of the evaluative components.

So again, there’s going to be a rhythm to each week. Each course is going to have a very similar rhythm so that once you get into the mode you’ll know what that rhythm looks like. It’ll be a comfortable rhythm and each course will embrace that with very limited variability. Again, you may not be engaging in coffee in a person-to-person sense, but you might be online, you might be Skyping with a group trying to figure out a group project or a one-to-one talking to your classmates.

So it’s using the technology that we have. The other thing that we do is we have open virtual classrooms for people, virtual conference rooms, so you can go in and you can draw a theoretical model if that’s something that you need to do, or you can collaborate on a document, so there’s many, many different things that you might be doing as an online student.

Amanda Walter: Thanks. And Cheri, maybe could you elaborate a little bit more on the amount of time people may need to expect to be actually synchronised with other students within the classroom versus time that they can take according to their own schedule, you know, to log in and look at the chat boards and complete assignments. What do you think that balance looks like?

Cheri Lacasse: Generally we look at one credit of graduate credit equalling approximately three hours of work and work translates into many different ways. That might be reading, that might be looking at the discussion boards, that might be thinking about gee how am I going to answer that particular question, so there’s lots of different perspectives of what that work might take.

The balance, you know, it’s hard to say because some people are going to move through a module very quickly; other people are going to move through it a lot slower because they’re really interested in it, they want to read more about it. If you’re the type of person that really enjoys exploring a topic, you could very easily get lost in the library in a virtual sense in looking up articles, so you know, the time spent is going to be somewhat variable depending on interest, but that’s part of the beauty of graduate study.

You need to immerse to get a grasp on a content, but you can immerse so much further to really get an in-depth view. I think the other thing that I would like to talk about just briefly, because we’ve run up against this with the first group is looking at people and encouraging people to really look at their student work and life balance because that’s so important to overall student success. So hopefully that answered the question, Amanda.

Amanda Walter: Yes, absolutely. And I guess kind to that same note, one of the things to emphasise is that that’s the whole reason that the courses were structured the way that they were, you know, the duration of the eight weeks, the fact that they’re sequential. Everything was kind of tied together and really looking at who our audience is for this program, the fact that you are working professionals, so everything does kind of build upon the prior work that you’ve done and that’s how, you know, again that’s how we’re able to see successful people through the program.

One person’s asking about the clinical immersion. Maybe if you could talk a little bit more about that in the sense of what exactly does it entail, what would the student focus on, can they complete it where they currently work or would they need to find a new location to complete the clinical?

Cheri Lacasse: This is Cheri again, and I’ll take that one. The clinical immersion is really to provide students with a mentored experience in leadership. The focus of that particular immersion experience is to be able to do an assessment on a complex system and that could certainly be where folks work. It might not be advisable if you happen to be working in a large area, maybe an academic medical centre or a large community complex or a healthcare complex.

It might not be the best thing to be working or to be doing that in your home unit for a variety of reasons. Then again, it might work out that way, so part of it depends on what your situation is, who the mentors are in your particular workplace. Do you have appropriate mentors to give you the best possible experience? And then you go forward and do your assessment of the system; you and your mentor decide is there some small piece of what you find that might need some extra work or might need to be changed. How can you make a positive impact on that system?

You put together a plan; you execute that plan and that might be in-servicing a group of nurses or multidisciplinary team or could be a variety of things that you might do to undertake a project and impact a positive change and hopefully impact outcomes. You’re also going to be looking at how might I sustain that in this particular setting, and planning for a particular project to carry on. If it’s not your particular unit and you won’t be there to see it move on is to perhaps put things in place with your mentors so that you could…maybe you’ll be training somebody to take on the project after you leave, for example.

So there’s lots of different forms that it can take, but it’s really to provide you with a strong leadership experience with a mentor, so that you do have the ability to try out some new things, try out your toolbox of leadership skills, and to also be able to process that in a positive way with someone who’s been in the field in a leadership position–hopefully has a lot of leadership experience so that you can really benefit from their experiences.

Amanda Walter: Absolutely. And one person’s wondering, is there a comprehensive exam or paper at the end of the program? What does it culminate to?

Cheri Lacasse: The end of the program culminates in the immersion experience and as people go through that 16-week experience, there are…I guess I would liken it to chapters that are outlined and written by each student, so things like what was their assessment of the system, what was the plan, what’s the implementation of that plan, what’s the outcome of the plan. So it’s very much an incremental document that gets created throughout that course.

It’s not that someone sits down, write it all at the end. It’s really to help people understand how you might progress through a major project as a leader. And then at the end, we’re going to have individuals write a summary of that as if you were going to present that particular project to perhaps a hospital board or board of directors, so they get a full leadership experience in that realm. So it’s not a traditional dissertation or a master’s thesis, but it’s a project that helps them understand all different aspects that they would be responsible for as a leader and also responsible for communicating as a leader for a particular project.

Amanda Walter: Thank you. And in terms of where, kind of degree outcomes and where students would go upon graduation, how does this program compare in preparation as compared to like a CNL or a FNP program?

Cheri Lacasse: Ki, would you like to start to answer that?

Ki Moore: Yes, I’d be happy. I can particularly focus on the FNP part, the Family Nurse Practitioner. This program, which you leave with a master’s degree, is as master’s in leadership. It is not an advanced practice nurse practitioner program. Those kinds of programs prepare you for independent practice in a different scope that requires additional licensure and certification. This program prepares you for leadership in an organisational setting and gives you the skills to analyse practice, evaluate practice, and determine best practices.

With regards to the CNL or the Clinical Nurse Leaders program, that is also slightly different and I’m going to let Cheri talk about the differences because she’s most familiar with that.

Cheri Lacasse: With the CNL course of study, traditionally when you look at this program compared to that, the CNL programs will have more mentored clinical experiences working with populations. This particular program gives people a much broader base to be able to influence care, you know, and not necessarily in your microcosm of practice, but institution-wide. So it’s just a very different focus so that you’ll be looking at population health, but you’ll be looking at population health in the context of how might I go about influencing the care and quality outcomes in a particular population as opposed to the focus on clinical care.

Now that doesn’t discount your clinical practice. In fact, your clinical practice is integral to understanding all these perspectives in leadership to be able to make that positive influence and positive outcomes change within a population that you might be serving. And the population could be the population that’s cared for in a particular healthcare system.

So it’s a more broad-based exposure as far as the differences. What can you do with this particular degree once you have it? Again, you can be a leader on a particular clinical unit; you could lead a division within a hospital; you could lead a hospital system. You can also do things like quality and safety management in a system-wide modality. Many folks that I’ve talked to recently are very interested in having an impact on the education of nurses within their particular practice setting.

This isn’t really focused as a nurse educator, but it will give you lots of the tools that you can develop further in being able to do that type of education within the workplace. So I think there’s a lot of versatility in this particular degree.

Amanda Walter: And if someone did choose then to pursue this degree, would it limit them in any way should they choose to move on to like a DNP degree or something back in a specialised focus?

Cheri Lacasse: This degree could serve very well as a very nice strong foundation to building with a DNP and there is a bit of articulation between the two that, as Ki described, because this isn’t the clinical degree, it takes a very different focus than an independent practitioner, like a nurse practitioner, in that there is different realms, whether it be acute care or family or paediatric, so there’s a whole different skill set that one would have to go on and learn.

It wouldn’t inhibit anybody. It wouldn’t set people back. It would just provide a more broad-based foundation for them to build on if they chose to go in that direction.

Amanda Walter: Excellent. Thank you. And I’m just looking at the time here. We might as well go ahead and wrap things up. We did actually answer a number of people’s questions; we have quite a bit of information covered today, so for anyone who didn’t have their question answered, we will have an enrolment advisor follow up with you to speak more specifically to you about your unique questions.

I did want to point out that we’re currently recruiting for the summer term with classes starting in the beginning of May, although the application deadline is actually just around the corner, so if you are considering the summer term and haven’t started an application yet, certainly do reach out to your enrolment advisor right away to book an appointment to start that process.

The other term this year comes up in the fall and so you do have time on that, and again I would recommend that you reach out to your enrolment advisor just to get the process started and to talk about the program as well. So again, thank you everyone for joining us.

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