Well, here I am, 2+ years into my career, and I'm back to school!
I've just been accepted to Sacred Heart University, where I plan to obtain an MSN with focus in Clinical Nursing Leadership. It's an online degree program, which should help with balancing school and work. My classes start at the end of April. I considered University of Phoenix online, but they didn't have the degree program I wanted. I liked the 5-week classes and no multiple choice testing they offered, but when it came down to it, SHU had the degree I wanted and U of P didn't.
I decided on the Clinical Nursing Leadership track partially by process of elimination. My goal is to generalize while advancing my education, a goal that many elder nurses advised me is too difficult to do in this profession. Fortunately, I'm stubborn.
I considered the APRN track, but with the entry-to-practice being raised to the Doctoral level, the CNL track will give me a solid basis for Doctoral study while opening up new roles and new challenges.
I considered the Nursing Informatics track that was suggested to me by my clinical faculty during my RN training, but I'm firmly rooted in patient care. I ran away running and screaming from software development when I abandoned Computer Science Engineering. I may come back to this one later.
All the MSN tracks enable me to teach nursing at a University, something I'm interested in doing farther down the line.
Clinical Nurse Specialist appeals to me, however my mind balks at the thought of specializing in something. The Clinical Nursing Leadership is a good compromise where I obtain a Masters level preparation in general bedside care. Rock. The novelty of the role (only developed 5 or 6 years ago by the AACN) played a factor as well, it's exciting to think I'll be helping shape a new Nursing role.
Once I've finished the CNL track, it'll be interesting to see where my interests lie for the next degree acquisition. DNP is the obvious choice, and the one I'll most likely go for first. SHU also offers an interesting online degree in Applied Psychology with a focus in Organizational/Institutional psychology which is also worth considering. Doubling-back post-grad and scooping up a Nursing Informatics degree might be fun, too. My CSE background would definitely come in handy, and it's quite a rare specialization.
I spoke with my academic advisor for the first time today, and it's the first time I spoke to a PhD Nurse. It was a delightful conversation in which we discussed philosophy and nursing practice, and sketched out a plan of study. We connected over the fact that we've both worked in home Hospice, which I found encouraging. I plan on doubling up on some of the easier classes, and my prior academic excursions knocked out a good chunk of the required classes already. No Math, Writing, Public Speaking, Social "Sciences", Bioethics, History or Humanities for this non-traditional student. I'm amused that I'll be required to take classes on Religion ("particularly the Catholic Intellectual Tradition" pops up a few times in the course descriptions). I briefly considered trying to get out of it by mentioning that I'm an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church, but I decided not to tempt fate.
I banked enough money working overtime to take it easy this past month, picking up a Hospice shift here or there but not stressing myself out with crisis or office politics. One of the bands I'm in, Above/Below is up for a Whalie award! The awards show is in May, the day before my Birthday. You can vote for us at WailingCity.com, vote for us! We'll be playing at the awards show and at the afterparty at my favorite pub. If you're curious, check us out on bandcamp, where we briefly topped the charts for Hip-Hop (think The Roots).
Aside from Music I've been slowly getting back into Aikido, which I had to briefly abandon because of working so much overtime. I got one of my friends hooked on it, and he graciously got ME back into it after being away from the dojo for months. My re-entry to the traditional combination of Zazen, Body arts, Iaido (traditional japanese sword-drawing, striking, cleaning and resheathing) and organic farming (yes, you read that right) started with a wonderful seminar that featured senseis from all over the country. Here's a sample video: