After three and a half years of online learning for my Master’s degree in Nursing Informatics, the light is very well in the horizon. This weekend, I will be attending my graduation ceremony!
After graduating from my Associate degree in Nursing in 2004, landing my dream job to be a neonatal intensive care nurse in a Level III NICU, and making very decent income, I never thought I’d go back to school. In fact, I didn’t want to ever go back to school again! I was settled–content, satisfied–and even told myself that I was going to retire from my nursing career in the NICU. I didn’t want to be anywhere else and didn’t want to do anything else. I was happy!
Then 7 years into my career, I reached a plateau. I looked back into the last happy seven years of my career and realized that was all I knew and that was all that I could do. Then I thought about all the times that I tried to participate in initiatives and contribute to other unit improvements. They were all good, but not all made a difference. I realized that while we need to improve our systems and processes, we also very much needed to improve ourselves and commitment to nursing. It was clear to me that I first had to make that commitment, so that I could be in a position to support others in their commitment. I knew that to create the biggest impact and initiate a changes, I had to enable myself first before I can enable others. I have to be the “subject of change” so I can be the “agent of change” (td.org webinar). It’s easy to make changes as a group than to make changes on your own.
I was convinced I had to go back to school, and with what I hoped to do in my career years to come, I knew a BSN wasn’t enough. That’s how I ended up with enrolling into the master’s program at Capella University. Because of technological advances happening in healthcare, I thought I should learn about informatics; although I really wanted to be in Nursing Leadership or Education. But I had no regrets and being in this specialty also helped me discover my interest in project management.
While in this educational journey, I also had other professional opportunities come my way. I decided to hop on to utilization management, case management, and care coordination. Oh, what another eye opening, and it made me look at our practice with a different lens. My biggest challenge in this was, I felt somewhat limited. Maybe I just didn’t know it enough or maybe it was just the culture of where I was. I definitely saw gaps in both knowledge and practice. I saw social injustices and some demoralization. What do you think I wanted to do at that time? Run, hide, quit? No! I wanted to make changes in practice and process. Not long enough before I could accomplish something, I was offered a nursing educator role! It was a bittersweet choice, but at the same time it was an opportunity for me expand my depth and further extend my reach. I am very thankful to have all of these opportunities come my way within the same organization where I started my nursing career.
Nursing education is, by far, my home away from the NICU. I didn’t know I’d feel this way about it. I see needs from both sides. I see lack of support to both ends: educators and learners. I see how, sometimes, it’s the poor standards and lost of sight–professionally and organizationally–that kills the fire of those who come in with enthusiasm and shuts the emerging innovation others have to offer. That is sad but I can’t give up now! This is where, as nurses, we need to support each other; be the root for each other’s growth; and be the bridge that academia and clinical practice need us to be. Our patients are our common goal: we just have different paths in serving them. That is something we can’t forget. I realize now that I’d like to continue serving our patients/clients by contributing to the development of other nurses whether it be at the bedside or leadership.
So that’s the highlights of my 14 years in nursing. That’s what getting the MSN is for. What lies ahead as I continue to evolve in my educator role are two things: an educational journey to a doctorate in healthcare administration and a career extension to an independent business in education and professional and organizational development. It’s a long road, I know; it has been. But I’ve walked it, and I’ll just continue walking.