Online RN to MSN
Clinical Systems Leadership

Special Graduates - Spotlight Webinar

Featuring insights from recent graduates of our MSN in Clinical Systems Leadership online program

Intro: In this special webinar, our audience has the opportunity to hear from our recent graduates as they share insights on the following important topics:

  • Our graduates’ experiences as they complete their studies while being full-time healthcare professionals and how they manage the work-life-school balance
  • The impact of the program has had on our graduates’ career aspirations
  • Tips for success in school and beyond…And more!

Stacy Slater, MSN, RN-BC:
Stacy has complementary education and training in business administration and nursing. A 2014 graduate of the University of Arizona’s MSN in Clinical Systems Leadership and a 2008 graduate of the University of Michigan’s BSN program – Stacy is currently the Revenue Cycle Coordinator for Munson Healthcare in Traverse City, MI. As the Revenue Cycle Coordinator Stacy serves as the bridge between clinical operations and financial management. She is skilled in multi-departmental communication, education of patient service departments on correct charge capture, and coordinates the fiscal year clinical department charge description master review and audits. Stacy is active in Munson Medical Center’s Nurse Executive Council, Pay-for-Performance Committee, and Shared Governance, and has taken the lead role in providing nursing outreach in the transition from volume to value-based reimbursement. Dual member of Sigma Theta Tau International’s Beta Mu chapter of the University of Arizona and the Rho Chapter of the University of Michigan; Vice President ANA-MI Region 2; ACLS and Cardiac-Vascular Nursing certified.

Michelle Alcoba, MSN, RN, CPHQ:
Michelle received a BA in Spanish from Purdue University in 1993. While working for a behavioral health organization in grievance and appeals, she decided to return to school for nursing. Michelle received her ADN from Mesa-Boswell Community College in 2008. She spent several years working as a Labor and Delivery RN in Perinatal High Risk. From there she moved into the primary care setting and was responsible for all of their quality initiatives, patient-centered medical home (PCMH) accreditation project lead, and ensured the practice was prepared for Joint Commission or AZ DHS surveys, which sparked her interest in healthcare quality. From there Michelle became a Quality Management Nurse of an organization that was the administrator of a CMS approved accountable care organization (ACO) and a clinical integration program. While in this position, Michelle began the UA RN-MSN program in Clinical System Leadership and graduated in December 2014, which was the initial cohort for the program. Upon graduation, Michelle received a job offer and is now the Mediations and Appeals Manager for Liberty Healthcare Corporation of North Carolina. In this position Michelle oversees a staff of Mediations and Appeals nurses that conduct mediations for Medicaid beneficiaries receiving Personal Care Services, which is assistance with performance of ADLs, and have been denied services, have had services terminated or hours reduced. She conducts quality reviews of her staff and assessments completed by field nurses, creates workflows and process, and works closely with training and quality to improve overall performance of the organization. Michelle is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), and is ACLS certified. She is a member of the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) and Sigma Theta Tau International Beta Mu chapter. She previously held a certification in Electronic Fetal Monitoring as well.

Beth High, MS, RN:
Beth completed her coursework for the BSN to MSN Clinical Systems Leadership in December of 2014 and graduated with the first cohort of the program. She is an oncology certified nurse with additional certifications in breast care and breast patient navigation. She recently started a new position at the University of Arizona Cancer Center as their first Breast Oncology Nurse Navigator where she is developing a program to reduce barriers to care and to provide individualized nursing services to cancer patients from their initial diagnosis to end of life. She is an active member of the Oncology Nursing Society serving as the Newsletter Editor for the Breast Care Special Interest Group and participating in the local chapter’s activities. She also reviews grant applications for the ONS Foundation and articles for publication in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. In addition to the Oncology Nursing Society, her professional memberships include the Academy of Oncology Nurse Navigators, the National Consortium of Breast Centers, and the Beta Mu chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. Beth’s community service includes outreach via the Susan G. Komen organization, the American Cancer Society, and the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Better than Ever program.

Cheryl Lacasse, MS, RN, OCN:
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 in geriatric and oncology care management. She also has a variety of leadership experiences in clinical practice, education, and professional organizations.


[Start of recorded material 00:00:01]

Kira:                  Good afternoon everyone. Hello and welcome to the University of Arizona’s online Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership webinar. I hope everyone is having a great day and thank you so much for carving out the time to join us for our special presentation this hour. My name is Kira and I will be your moderator.

Today, we’re here to hear from our special guests, who are three of our recent graduates, as well as our program directors. I’m very excited to introduce them to you later on. Let’s go over some of the logistics of today’s events and some housekeeping items.

The webinar is being recorded. All participants are currently in listen in only mode to ensure a clear presentation. So I encourage you to put your line on mute if it isn’t already. At any point during the webinar if you would like to ask questions, please feel free to send them my way by typing in the chat box found on the right side of your screen. Just make sure to click on the chat icon if it’s not already lit. So it should have a blue color when it’s lit.

Our panellists will be answering your questions throughout the webinar. So you don’t have to wait until the end of the presentation to ask questions. I know many of you are excited to learn more about our RN to MSN online program. So this is a really rare and great opportunity to hear from those who have gone through the program and we might not be able to get through all of your questions within the hour but we will be in touch with you at a later time. Also, our enrollment advisors would be happy to follow up with you at a later time on any program related questions. Now, let’s introduce you to our special guests.

First, we have Michelle [Alcoba]. Michelle received a BA in Spanish from [Purdy] University. She returned to school for nursing after working for a behavioural health organization. Michelle received her ADN from Mesa Boswell Community College in 2008. She spent several years working as a labour and delivery RN in prenatal high risk. She then moved into primary care setting, overseeing quality initiatives, patient centered medical home accreditation project and prepared the practice for joint commission or ACDFH surveys. Michelle then became a quality management nurse. While in this position, Michelle began the UA RN to MSN program in clinical systems leadership and graduated in December 2014. Upon graduation, Michelle received a job offer. Congratulations, and is now the mediations and appeals manager for Liberty Healthcare Cooperation for North Carolina. Welcome Michelle.

Next, we have Beth [High]. She complete her coursework for the BSN to MSN clinical systems leadership in December of 2014 and graduated with the first cohort of the program. She is an oncology certified nurse with additional certifications in breast care and breast patient navigation. She recently started a new position at the University of Arizona, congratulations Beth, as their first breast oncology nurse navigator where she is developing a program to reduce barriers to care and to provide individualized nursing services to cancer patients from their initial diagnosis [recovery] program.

And we have Stacy Slater, who has completed her RN, the Education and Training Business Administration of Nursing, a 2014 graduate of the University of Arizona’s MSN in clinical systems leadership and a 2008 graduate of the University of Michigan’s BSN program. Stacy is currently the revenue cycle coordinator for Munson Healthcare in Traverse City, Michigan, certified.

So welcome to the graduates of our program and lastly, we have our program director, Cheri Lacasse, who is a clinical professor of the University Of Arizona College Of Nursing, core faculty and director of the online RN MSN program. She has clinical expertise as an advanced practiced nurse in geriatric and oncology care management. She also has a variety of leadership experiences in clinical practice, education, and professional organization.

So thank you so much, everyone, for being here today. So we have a wonderful panellist of speakers. So welcome Michelle, Beth, Stacy and Cheri. Today, we will be covering the program overview, which we’ll hear from Cheri Lacasse, our program director, and afterwards, we’ll have some very wonderful opportunities to hear from our graduates as they share their experience going through the program. Throughout the presentation, we’ll also have the chance to take your questionnaires. So please, feel free, again, to use the chat box and we’ll be going through your questions as the webinar is taking place. We’ll also get the chance to hear from our graduates on tips for success, to be talking about their [CAPM] project as well and Cheri also has insights to share with us as she is the lead instructor who oversees the [CAPM] project as well. Of course, the Q and A for any final questions that we have regarding the program.

So, welcome, and now I would like to invite Cheri to speak on the program overview.

Cheri:                Thank you Kira. Welcome, to all of you who are attending today. Just briefly, I wanted to describe what we do with the program. A big question that everybody asks is, what is the degree that you get? It is a Master’s of Science in nursing clinical systems leadership and what that means is, we focus on looking at building on your clinical nursing experience and looking at a variety of different topics, at which I’ll mention in a couple of moments here but really looking at bringing you from where you are, right now, in your clinical practice, wherever that may be and for everyone, that’s just a bit different, through to where you could be as a leader and where you might envision yourself to be after you finish and perhaps beyond.

So we’re really looking at having you go through an educational process and hopefully our graduates will talk about this as well. What I hear from students all the time is, not only do we help you learn what a transformational leader can be but there’s a transformative process that happens with our graduates.

On the next slide, it shows you our program outcomes and the program outcomes really speak to the integration of all the different topics that we cover in the programs. Again, it’s a variable length program depending on at what point do you start if you’re starting with an associate’s degree, if you’re starting with a bachelorette degree, and then progressing through the program. Our university allows six years to progress through the program and people go through the program at their own speed. So it’s hard to determine sort of the normal trajectory because everyone has the trajectory that is right for them.

So that’s something we always get questions on but everyone does arrive at the end of the program achieving all of these outcomes; they’re pretty lengthy outcomes, so I won’t read them to you but some of the things that I want to highlight are some of the topics and concepts that we cover throughout the program. So you’re going to be talking about leadership in a wide variety of ways in all of the courses you’ll be taking. We also have a course in healthcare business, which covers a lot of information about the business of healthcare and how you, as a nurse, might be able to take part in that, be aware of it and what you might be able to contribute to the business of healthcare.

Another piece that you’ll be studying is policy and this is always intriguing for people, is to take a look at healthcare policy. That could be policy within your own institution, all the way up to National Policies for Healthcare. Different students get very involved and very passionate about the policies that they choose to look at.

Evidence based practice is infused all the way through our program in a wide variety of ways. We’re always asking people to go out and look at the literature, look at the relevant pieces, the current pieces of literature that pertain to what you’re doing and to what healthcare transformation is doing right now.

We also focus on quality and safety. We have a course called Healing Environments, which talks a fair amount about who you are in an environment, what you bring to an environment, how you might be able to transform a work environment to make it a more positive place for clients, for colleagues and perhaps those that you lead.

We also cover topics like health promotions, risk reductions and population health, as well as healthcare technology. We talk a bit about care coordination in transitions across many courses to give many people depth and breadth in looking at a big picture approach to a client in a particular system or a cross system. So with that, I will turn it over to our graduates to give you their insights about the different parts of the program.

Kira:                  Perfect, yes. So here’s the cooks of the presentation. Let’s hear from our graduates. I believe Michelle was going to start us off with her experience as she went through the program. While Michelle is speaking, please feel free to forward any questions and we’ll also get the chance to hear from Stacy and Beth. Thank you so much.

Michelle:           Thank you, Kira. Hi everyone, my name is Michelle. This program was really a good program. As Kira mentioned, initially, I had a BA from years ago. So nursing was second career for me and after obtaining my nursing degree, I had really no intention of pursuing a Master’s degree. Due to an unfortunate injury, like many nurses have, I wasn’t able to continue working 12 hour shifts. So in order, as I moved through the various stages of my career, I became passionate about quality and healthcare quality and in order to advance in that area, I really needed another degree. I needed a higher nursing degree. So I looked at the various programs that were out there and found that the U of A RN to MSN in clinical systems leadership, the online program seemed like the correct fit between work, family, school, the classes, the curriculum that’s in it is a variety of topics like Cheri just mentioned. So I knew it would help me achieve the goals that I was looking for.

There was so much that happened during the course of the program that to give insights to all of it would be really difficult. So in each course, there were various projects, group work, individual work; all of it helped to develop, I think not only myself but everybody, to truly become leaders within a clinical system knowing not only the basics of being a transformational leader, but to understand they why’s and how’s of various populations or the business side of things. It was just different things that we did, all created excellent learning opportunities for us. There really wasn’t anything that I felt was not beneficial in any of the courses. The various types of interactions that we had to have in our group projects, depending on the course, some of it took place by phone, some of it we had to do our own webinars or own web meetings. So we used various forms of technology to communicate and create our projects and our work. So all of that helped to build and develop our individual skills, especially for those who might not be as computer illiterate as others, we all worked together to help overcome any challenges we had that way.

So the program as a whole, I think, helped us develop strong leadership skills, learn to provide constructive feedback to our peers, as well as be open to the feedback that we would receive if promoted and open communication when working with a team. You know, how to build those relationships and develop the team as a whole to get the project done. It changed my perspective too on where I actually wanted to go. I was initially thinking I wanted a managerial type position but after completing the program and while working through the program, I learned that I really wanted to be in a leadership position where I could make a difference and influence not only the work that nurses do but how influencing them and promoting the profession as a whole has beneficial outcomes to the patient, the clients, and the interaction amongst other healthcare professionals and providers that we work with every day.

So I don’t know if Stacy wants to add anything to that but that’s my initial insight, I guess.

Kira:                  That’s great Michelle. So yeah, Stacy, Beth, would you like to share your insights too, then we can open it to our audience for questions?

Beth:                 This is Beth and I just want to tell a little bit about my situation because it might speak to some of the other listeners. So I graduated from nursing school in the mid 80’s. So that was a while ago, then I took quite a long hiatus from my career to do other things, such as raise my children, which is one of the great things nursing affords us the opportunity to do. So you can imagine that I might have approached my return to the academic environment with some trepidation. I could use the computer but I was not super savvy. So I was a little bit nervous about online learning and I quickly was able to overcome that fear because of the very excellent explanations that were provided to us by the faculty.

We had various times we had to start a new application in order to complete an assignment, like Blackboard Online. They would give very detailed screenshots of the directions to use that technology. They gave us everything that we needed, you know, you could say spoon fed us. So it was not as stressful as I thought it might be.

We, also, were introduced to social media. This was not something I had participated in before but I learned the value of it through my experiences in this program and how it can be used to communicate with your peers who are doing the same work as you but may be in a distant location, how to market yourself online, you know, if you’re looking for a certain kind of position. So I found that very valuable and those are things that I kept with me. I mean, my family is pretty amazed that I’m now Tweeting up a storm on the internet. It’s gotten some relationships with leaders in the healthcare business that I would never have been able to connect with. For example, I am a breast advocator. One of the most well-known navigators, Lillie Shockney in the east, she and I have communicated through the social media and I feel like I have a colleague who I can ask a question to at the very top of my selected career path. So I thought that was a valuable part of the program.

So I have to say, if you graduated a while ago and you’re worried about coming back because of newfangled technologies and you’re just returning to education, it can be done and you can excel at it. So I would encourage you to continue this program. Stacy, how about you?

Stacy:                Thank you, Beth. Hi, this is Stacy Slater. I wanted to say pretty much what Michelle and Beth were talking about. I, also, am a second career nurse. As you can tell from my picture, I’m not exactly 22 years old. So like Beth, I had a lot of learning curves. I also realized that being a second career nurse, I wasn’t going to have 20 years being at the bedside to glean all that experience that I needed. So I kept moving with my school. I finished my ADN in 08’ then continued on to get my BSN and graduated in 2010, took off a year, and then researched a tremendous amount of programs, just like Michelle was talking about, and finally settled on the RN to MSN clinical systems leadership at U of A and it was the best thing I ever did.

I also, for me, personally, didn’t really want to spend five or six more years in school and this program afforded me the ability to finish in the 15 months and be where I am now, which is great. This is the combination of my past and present experiences that are allowing me to focus on my future goals. I’ve been invited to make commentary on blogs. I’m on many committees. The MSN program is exactly what Michelle and Beth were talking about. This is a leadership program. It’s exactly what I was looking for and it is helping me in my short term goals I’ve set for myself, as well as my long term. All of these things are coming to fruition.

I kind of had a chuckle because the one class Cheri was talking about, the Healing Environments, was probably, for me, of all the classes, the scariest. Trepidation was turned into an unexpected highlight when I had an opportunity to connect with one of the nurse leaders during our long journey through integrative nursing. This connection, it actually helped me realize that my life and our lives may not be made up of marquee events but maybe just moments and that it’s okay to be a seed planter. It’s just as effective as being a game changer. So I’ve kind of learned to take things down a notch and see that it didn’t have to be a great, big, momentous event to be successful. I just, it has changed how I practice at the bedside, even though I work full time for the healthcare system and corporate reimbursement, I still work temporarily on call at the bedside as a cardiac nurse because the unit that I came from is a little short staffed. We just had a couple mergers with a couple of other hospitals and it helps me maintain my skills. So I feel like I can truly be that bridge between the clinical bedside nurses and corporate finance. I’m kind of the person who makes sure that patient care doesn’t become secondary to reimbursement.

So I’m thrilled to death with this. I’m doing the things I want to do. I loved Cheri’s comment about the transformative process for the students because that is exactly what it was. I mean, the camaraderie, the things we learned, I think Michele was talking about the technology, as well as Beth; everybody helped each other. I mean, it was just such a great environment. I had not had a full time online experience like this one and it was great.

The best part were the instructors and the professors. They are there 110 percent behind you, making sure you can be as successful as you want to be. They are there all the time to make sure you get everything you need. With them and with our cohort, everyone is successful.

Kira:                  Thank you. All of our graduates here worked full time while going to school. What is that like? How were you able to manage the work-life balance with school, family, and everything else? I guess we can start with Michelle.

Michelle:           Okay. Yeah, I did work full time, I did have a family, and the online program really is accommodating to that. Very rarely does the coursework feel overwhelming to get accomplished during the week. There’s usually something due almost every week in addition to discussion boards. There’s some type of paper or project or something that is done and very rarely is the workload overwhelming and you feel like you’re missing out on family time or you feel like you need to take time off work or anything like that.

I know for my cohort, which was the RN to MSN first cohort, the majority of the group worked full time, had families, and nobody really had problems getting the work done on time and meeting the deadlines. The faculty was really great in that if you do run into a problem because there’s something going on at work or something has come up in your personal life, as long as you let your faculty know upfront and soon as you know that there might be a conflict, they’re usually willing to accommodate whatever it is you need. If you need a little bit of extra time, you’re not going to get it in on time, they’re not going to penalize you for that because you’ve been communicating with them. If you turned something in late and you haven’t communicated upfront that it may be necessary to do so and your reason behind then yes, you would be penalized, but as long as that communication is there, they’re more than willing to work with you.

Cheri had mentioned the program is really self-paced in that, you know, if you want to take a class off because you know you have some particular commitment that would cause a problem for you to complete your work on time, take the class off. The classes are all eight weeks long. So you can take eight weeks off and start up again with the next class. I didn’t have to do that at all but I knew that option was there if something happened that I would need to. So it is very flexible in that sense and the coursework, I didn’t feel and those in my cohort didn’t feel like it was too overwhelming to get the work done within the timelines that were given to us.

Kira:                  Thanks, Michelle. Beth and Stacy, do you have something to share as well?

Beth:                 Beth, here. I would agree that it’s very doable. It’s tough but it’s doable. I did it the 15 months route and I stayed on task very steadily because I figured I can do anything for that amount of time. For my schedule, because I work Monday through Friday, I did most of the bigger projects on the weekend and did maybe the responding two posts during the week. You know, the little shorter things that I could keep up with when I got off work.

The key, for me, was organization. I didn’t have much regard for trees, but I did end up printing a lot of the materials, only because it helps me to visualize everything in front of me. I could lay it all out. I kept a calendar so that I knew when everything was due, I kept all the instructions where I could refer to them in one place so that I was always clear on what was required for that week.

I let my family in on what I was doing because they had to understand that I was available. I didn’t miss out on 15 months of life. I wasn’t available as I had once been. So they had, you know, expressed to me that they were very supportive. They encouraged me to do it and I was able to keep my full time job, keep my family happy and get the job done.

So it was really good. The best piece of advice I can do you is to tell you to plan your work and then work your plan. That’s cliché but it works for you. If you don’t have goals set for short-term and long-term, it’s hard to do it.

So I also reviewed the entire course when I started a new class, from beginning to end so you kind of knew what was coming at the end and you could plan for it. Like, if you could see, oh this big project is due in this week, you would plan your life around that.

Stacy:                Thank you, Beth.

Kira:                  Thanks so much.

Stacy:                Stacy Slater; I have to echo again, Michelle and Beth’s comments, the 15 months for me was perfect. It was doable. I was working two jobs, 40 hours, and then doing my temporary on call and in the middle of that, my husband had a devastating accident and was unable to return to work and I was doing wound care for most of the summer and as Michelle said, I had the flexibility. I kept in constant contact with Cheri and the other instructors and I got all the information I needed to determine whether or not I should take off the fall and return in January. They worked with me so well.

As it turned out, I ended up graduating with the first class, starting and finishing with the first class and everything is going great. I managed all of that. As Beth said, you need the support. You need to be proactive in thinking about how your schedule pans out. I kind of tended to do the same things. I would do as much as I could and get as much big projects done during the weekends and then starting on Sunday, Monday, start answering discussion boards. You know, you have to look at this as part of your job as well. As long as you have a support system, I would go into this every day as this is my job. I’m going in, I’d write this paper, I’d do that, and I just went on my schedule with all of my normal, everyday meetings and things that I did.

It worked out fine. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything. I don’t feel like I was deprived of anything and in the end, I gained incredible cohorts, collaborators and contacts. This was a great program and it worked out perfect for me. As long as you’re disciplined to do it, anything can be accomplished.

Beth:                 You know, can I tag on another comment? This is Beth. When Stacy mentioned that she made relationships through this course, in online learning you think it’s impersonal, you’re not going to meet anybody. Well, Stacy and I are a great example of that. She lives in Michigan and I live in Arizona. We were in several classes together and did group work together and there have been several times where Stacy has come out to Arizona, we’ve met, we’ve had some social occasions, we still keep in contact and I think we’re going to be forever friends and we wouldn’t have known each other without this program. So, it happens. You make friends in an online program.

Kira:                  Oh yes, I hear that a lot. So our next question is, I’m sure when you were researching through programs, there’s many out there, what made you decide on UA?

Stacy:                This is Stacy; I was looking for something to compliment my University at Michigan experience, which was phenomenal and I wanted to make sure I was complimenting that and I looked at a lot of programs. I looked at Vanderbilt, Loyola in San Francisco and you know, UA had a great; I looked at all the ratings. This was just the perfect timing. This program came about, we were the first class, it was an inaugural program, it was exactly what I wanted, it was 15 months, it was leadership, it was bricks and mortar, it had instructors that were 10 years, and there was an actual place to visit. For me, all of those things were very important and I feel like I got everything that I set out to get.

Beth or Michelle?

Beth:                 So, this is Beth; I was simply drawn in by the title, systems leadership because, you know, systems is kind of a buzz word. You know, there’s systems engineering, business systems, it seems like that’s an important concept that people are focusing on these days. I knew that, you can’t just be a specialist. You need to have a little bit of knowledge in a lot of areas in order to be a leader in today’s healthcare environment. So I wanted to be in some place I was learning about systems and that’s part of why I choose it.

Of course, I live in Tucson, Arizona and when you’re a Wildcat, you’re always a Wildcat.

Michelle:           This is Michelle. I, like Stacy, looked at a bunch of different programs. The RN to MSN is 24 months as opposed to the 15 but it goes by quick. The classes, I read all of the course descriptions for all the places I looked at and none of them had, not only the variety of course work involved, but the focus on healthcare quality, which was a big thing to me. So that, definitely, was a benefit for me and what I was looking for along with, if I needed it, I could go down to Tucson. There was a physical campus there. We knew from the beginning that we’d be able to participate in graduation, where, with an online program, they just send you something in the mail and you’re like, am I really done? You don’t really feel like you really graduated and you got that feeling here.

So a lot of it had to do with the curriculum that had been developed and we know, the three of us, know from feedback we’ve gotten from Cheri, as well as the other faculty at the end of each course, we completed our surveys about the course and they took our feedback. They have made changes to the coursework and I don’t know if Cheri wants to speak to that at all, but they modified how things are either, like due dates or the layout of various courses based on the feedback from our inaugural group to try and make it better. I thought it was great going through it. Yes, there’s always improvement for everything. Nothing will ever be perfect but, hopefully, the feedback that we all were able to provide and the changes that were implemented because of it, has made it better. It will continue to get better as more groups, more cohorts go through and graduate.

Kira:                  Thank you so much. So this question is directed for Cheri and it’s regarding the career paths that graduates pursue. Are there graduates that go into education or become a clinical educator, can you speak to that?

Cheri:                Yes. This is a generalists Master’s program. The beauty of that is, you can, as a graduate have already been exemplars of, you can move in whatever direction your interests are, as well as your clinical background allows you to do. Everybody is so unique in how they put together what their backgrounds are and their passions in nursing and move in that direction. We do have a fair amount of folks who are interested in the wide varieties of ways you can be an educator, whether you’re a clinical educator in an institution or you happen to be someone who is very interested in academia and teaching online. We have had people who have taught at the university level, online, we’ve had people who have told me they have jobs in their institutions as clinical educators, as well as teaching at community colleges.

So, there’s a wide variety of different teaching opportunities that you can use the degree with. What we don’t provide is the ins and outs on the curriculum at graduation and some of those types of things but if you go into an environment where you have good mentors who are very well versed in that, you should be fine in learning what you need to learn as far as the nuances of being a good educator. Most nurses have the basis for that anyhow because we all have some form of patient [unintelligible 00:38:10] education. So we really have good foundations for being an educator to begin with. So, hopefully that answered the question. I don’t know if anyone else would like to add to that as far as our graduates?

Stacy:                Cheri, this is Stacy. I couldn’t agree more. That is exactly why I choose this program is because it’s a great board. The global perspective and the clinical systems, like Beth was saying, you’re a spring board to anywhere you want to go depending on what your goals are.

Kira:                  Thanks so much, Stacy. So our next topic on the agenda is the Capstone project and with this, I’d like Cheri to speak and give us an overview of what our audience can expect through the Capstone project and they will also be hearing from our graduates on their experience with that.

Cheri:                So, the Capstone project is formulated so that students can take all of the concepts that they’ve learned throughout the program, up to that point, and put it together in one project, working with a small but mighty team. Our graduates will tell you about the mightiness of their teams, I’m sure but it really hones the skill of what it takes to put together a big project as a leader, and also honing the skills as a good team member or a follower in a project as well. So, with that, I’m going to turn it over to our graduates because I know they have very specific projects that they worked on.

Beth:                 This is Beth.

Kira:                  Beth, great.

Beth:                 I wanted to say that, I don’t mind admitting that I was nervous about the big Capstone project because we didn’t know, when it started, what it was going to entail specifically. You knew it was going to be big, you knew it was going to be challenging but like Cheri said, little did we know, each and every class was preparing us little by little for that big project. We had classes where we took turns being the leader of a project or a follower or some sort of other team member and we were assigned to roles, which we emulated for periods of time and we got better and better at each of those roles. We were finally able to put all the pieces together in that one big picture scenario, which was our project.

In my group, I had a dream that I wanted to do a project that involved navigation and survivorship. My team agreed with my plan and so I was allowed to use the knowledge that I had to create a big project that ended up being so realistic that I can take it to my current leadership in management and implement that project. You know, not exactly the same way, but I can revise it somewhat and I can take it forward. Before the class, I would not have been confident that I would be able to bring such an idea to my leadership but because I had lived through it and because I had done the work, we looked at a business plan, we looked at a budget, we looked at what’s the safety issues in a project, how can we promote the health of a patient? We took every little piece of every class and we put it altogether in one great, final; it’s a glorious thing. My team called it our baby. We really nurtured and cared for it for quite a few weeks and finally, it was something that we were very, very proud of.

Now, I feel prepared. I feel prepared to offer up my ideas to my leadership because I know I can back them up with a solid foundation of knowledge that I learned from this program. You know, it’s one thing to have an idea. It’s a whole other thing to put a plan into action and make it happen. In the past, I’d had lots of ideas but now, I know how to make a plan.

Michelle:           This is Michelle. I will wholeheartedly agree with Beth that going into the Capstone project, it was kind of scary and nerve wracking not knowing what to expect but when it was said and done and we actually had the outline of the project itself and we had our groups and we, you know, decided how we were going to work as a team, we had all of the pieces in place from all the previous classes that we been in and worked together through. So even if a particular piece of the project I wasn’t fully comfortable taking on that particular piece, I had my team to bounce questions off of, get their input as to how to approach it and the same for them. If they weren’t comfortable doing something because they didn’t feel it was their strong point, we were all resources for each other to help build that particular piece up and that put all of us having great pride and ownership over the project.

Like Beth said, it’s something we could take to leadership, not in my particular role here with my current position but in the right setting, it could be taken to leadership and proposed and followed through on, again, with some tweaks, not for that particular setting but it definitely helped understand how to do a proposal, present things to leadership when you want to make a change or implement something new that isn’t already there. If there’s something that’s already there and you want to work on changing it, it serves as a great foundation to be able to take what’s already existing and modify it to whatever it is you want to change and present it to the leadership for implementation. So, while it was scary going into, the outcome and feeling at the end was amazing, an amazing sense of accomplishment to think, wow, we were able to put this together and I’m confident I could go elsewhere and recreate the same kind of project again, if I had to.

Stacy:                Thanks, Michelle. This is Stacy. Again, to echo Michelle and Beth, I was intimidated and nervous and anxious about the Capstone as well and I had purposefully went out of my way to pick a subject that was completely foreign to me so that I could learn more about it, which then led me to Beth. I knew my organization was building a new cancer center, so I specifically choose the breast navigation project and got on Beth’s team and, wow, I learned so much. Now I can speak confidently when I meet with the director of the cancer center. I’m included in all these meetings. I did this, kind of to myself, but it turned out, as Michelle said, I mean, what an incredible source of pride. What we created, what we accomplished, the usefulness of it and again, maybe not immediately, in Beth’s case it was, for Michelle not immediately, for me, not immediately, but I know, now, how to put together a plan and take it from an idea and create a budget and the quality and safety and the financials and the policies. So that is invaluable, as far as I am concerned.

Kira:                  From your bio, we are able to see that you have pursued the career path of your choice or have been promoted recently; how much of, would you say, the program’s impacts in your success in your career path?

Beth:                 I have to say, it made quite a bit of impact. I was working in the cancer center as a staff nurse on the breast team and my leadership knew that I was an adequate, perhaps excellent, staff nurse but that’s what I was. They also knew that I had less than five years oncology experience, that I had a long hiatus from nursing and they didn’t see me as someone who necessarily was going to be a leader but when I went through and finished my class, and of course I let them know what I was up to all the time, they now see somebody who can start a project, finish it, I’m accomplished, I have certifications, I now have a Master’s degree, and they now look at me in a different light.

Shortly after I graduated, they did institute navigator positions and I was subsequently hired into the job that I would kind of call my dream job. Now, if I didn’t establish myself as the kind of leader they were looking for in the position, I might not have been the one they selected but I do think it gave me an edge over all the other candidates and I have the program to thank for it because it did prepare me for this future program I am developing and leading here at my cancer center. So, yeah, I’m really glad that I took the class when I did it. Michelle, you want to talk too?

Michelle:           Sure, thanks Beth. I have the program to thank for my current position. I had been in Arizona when I was going through the program and close to graduation, this particular opportunity came up and part of the reason I was selected for the position, because they were not intending to move somebody across the country, was what I had accomplished during the program. I did have some grievance and appeals background, which helped but what they were really looking for was a transformational leader. During the interview process, they asked what type of leader are you? Through several of the classes, we took various quizzes and personality profiles or however you want to look at it, to tell you what kind of a leader you are and every time I did that, I would come out as a transformational leader. When I said that, when they asked me what kind of leader are you and I said I’m a transformational leader and explained what it was, the director and the HR manager looked at each other and were like, wow, now that’s an answer. There hadn’t been any real stability in this position that I’m in with the organization for over a year. They hadn’t had a leader in the position for about nine months. So they really needed somebody who could understand systems, understand processes, put them into place, develop and not only put them into place but develop them and so, what I learned through the program, I put to work right away. Stacy?

Stacy:                Oh, thank you Michelle and Beth. Yes, I was recruited into corporate reimbursement due to my business background and then my clinical, the Master’s in Science and Nursing in clinical systems leadership has opened a lot of doors for me. I’ve only been doing the revenue cycle coordinator position for two years. I like where I am right now. I am building what it is that I want to do. I’ve had three or four interviews. I’ve had the director of nursing call me and say they’ve created a couple of new positions and they’ve thought of me. They weren’t exactly things I wanted to do but I interviewed anyway. One of the projects that we had, I think it was developing a business plan and I choose to be in the team for the clinical research office, knowing full well that my organization was struggling with research. We were doing research, but we weren’t admitting that we were doing research. So I have been chosen by the consultants that have come in to possibly lead our clinical research office. That is something that is definitely interesting to me and not, at least to be part of that time, but I knew full well a year and a half ago that this was going to be coming up and I had set myself up for that position. Thank you.

Kira:                  Thank you so much, Stacy. So, the next portion, let’s have our graduates share their tips for success in school and in life. Let’s start with Stacy.

Stacy:                Great, thank you Kira. A lot of things, we’ve already kind of touched on. We’ve talked about a support system. Beth and Michelle, all of us, we talked about making sure you have a plan, plan out your week, use your schedule, and make sure you look at this as a job. The pace is fast and furious and you need to keep up with it. Getting behind on eight week classes can really because you stress that you don’t need to do to yourself. Make sure your coping skills, have an area where you can study. What are your short-term and your long-term goals and remember it’s not a sprint. You know, life is a marathon. Keep going through it. We don’t have to torcher yourself.

I believe in challenging myself. I think it’s important to do something outside your comfort zone; for example, I could have gone an easier route and chosen a Capstone project in the cardiac area and just built on my knowledge, which would have been useful as well but I choose to go outside of that. Was it scarier? Yes, but I learned so much. I always put myself in positions to do things that I don’t normally do so that I can learn how to do these things. It’s important to continue growing and evolving.

Tips for school and for beyond; don’t allow all the context that you made throughout the program slip away. Stay in touch with your classmates, stay in touch with your instructors, maintain your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, continue with your professional sites, contribute to discussions, whether they’re LinkedIn or many of the other blogs that are out there and continue to network. Don’t let all of that go to waste. It’s important. Like Beth said, I’m sure we will be lifelong friends. People that you meet out there, we know each other now. We know what our capabilities are. We had incredible experiences, I believe it was in business policy, with some online social media experiences with executives, administrators and nurse leaders from ANA in Washington.

The big things are just make sure you have a plan and follow through on it and to also make sure that you’re communicating with your instructors and fellow classmates because you need each other to work these projects that you have to do. You know, you have to figure out when you’re going to meet, what days you have, everyone is on different time zones and it worked. You know, we had some people that were on nights, different time zones, some worked 12’s, some worked 8’s, but you know what? We all did great and we’re all still friends. I know I can pick up the phone at any time or send an email and I know that person on the other end is going to help me. Beth or Michelle?

Michelle:           This is Michelle. I wholeheartedly agree with what Stacy said. Have a plan. Plan your week out. Plan the course out, like Beth said in the beginning she would look through the entire course for what was going to be due and so she could plan her life accordingly. I think we all did that so that if we knew we had something big coming up in our work or personal life and it was going to be the same time as a big project or paper was due, we planned accordingly. The communication with the faculty is key. They are so willing to help no matter what type of problem you’re having or what you’re not understanding. They are more than willing to explain and do what they can to help you to understand the concept and get the work done. The colleagues that you meet throughout the program will be your friends forever. It’s kind of, in a sense, going back to nursing school where everybody, at some point, breaks down in tears saying I can’t do this. There is some of that that goes on.

With this course, because at some point in time there is going to be something the overwhelms you, but everybody draws on the support of everybody else in the class to get through it. We had one of, one woman in my cohort, she went through breast cancer herself during it. We all supported her. She made it through the program without taking time off. It just goes to show, with the support of everybody and in your group, you can get it done. It’s just a matter of communication and planning your time.

Kira:                  Thank you so much, Michelle and this concludes our special webinar for today. Thank you to all of our panellists, our MSN graduates, our program director Cheryl Lacasse, and to Michelle, Beth and Stacy for taking your time from your very, very busy schedule to be here today and for all of our audience for being here for the hour and posting questions. I hope the program, the webinar today, has been informative and beneficial as you consider programs for your education in the next step of your professional development.

Once again, from the University of Arizona, thank you so much for being here to attend our special informational webinar presented by MSN graduates and I hope you all have a wonderful day. Don’t forget, we have fall start dates coming up as well as the spring, 2016 and our team enrollment advisors are always helpful and here to help. You can contact them at their email address, as well as their toll free number, which is 1-855-789-7046. Once again, thank you Cheri, Michelle, Beth and Stacy and to our audience. Have a wonderful day.

[End of recorded material 00:59:47]

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