While a student in Chamberlain’s MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track, Rebecca Kaufman had to balance work, school, family and planning to relocate from Arizona to Florida so her husband could pursue his own advanced degree.
Her journey began about five years into her RN career when she started working as a school nurse.
“I often would say to the students and their parents, ‘I think you need to go to your primary care provider.’ After a couple of years of saying that, I started to realize that I wanted to be that primary care provider!” said Kaufman.
Kaufman graduated from Chamberlain in April 2017, she has been in practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner for about two months at an Internal Medicine and Pediatric Clinic in Florida.
She recently shared her experiences in the MSN-FNP specialty track, including finding practicum sites, preparing for the AANP Exam and creating work-life-school balance. Read on for more:
Why did you choose Chamberlain?
I liked that the program was online since I still needed to work and take care of my family while enrolled. The flexibility to do course work when I had the time was fantastic. I liked that the courses were 8 weeks long and I had the opportunity to double up during a session if I wanted to (before the practicum courses started). I liked that the program also included a weekend session (Immersion Weekend) just before my practicum courses started with all my classmates and faculty. All of those factors just seemed right to me when I compared them with what other schools offered.
While working and taking care of your two daughters, how did you find balance?
It is a struggle to find the balance when you still need to work and support a family while keeping on top of your course work - I will definitely not sugar coat that! I would study and work on papers on my lunch break at work. I would play with my kids after work and then go sit at the table after they went to bed so I could get my assignments done. I did not give up going out on dates with my husband or taking my kids out somewhere fun. I needed the mental break, as I think most people do, it just meant squeezing schoolwork whenever I could.
What factors contributed to your success as a student?
Time management is extremely important when taking courses online. I had to really plan out when I would get my assignments and reading done without interfering with work or family life. You have to be very self-motivated and make sure you do the assignments when you planned to. Procrastination is not a good idea!
How did you find your practicum sites?
I went to people I knew. I worked at a family medicine clinic as a triage RN and was fortunate enough to be able to do two of my practicum courses there. They knew me, so the wonderful doctors and nurse practitioners there were willing to take me on as a student. I wanted to do an OB/GYN rotation, so I asked my own personal doctor if she would be willing to take me on for one course and she did. I also knew I wanted to see what retail health was all about, so I applied for the CVS Minute Clinic preceptorship and went there for my last two practicum courses. So I would definitely say ask people you know: your own doctor, your kid’s pediatrician, a doctor you have worked with in the past, etc.
How did you prepare for the AANP Exam?
I took a live review course about 4 months before I was set to graduate just to get a good idea of what areas I felt strong in and what areas I needed to focus on. Then in Capstone, Chamberlain provided an online review course that was divided up for the 8-week session. I made sure to keep up with that review and not fall behind. I had a goal to take (and pass) the AANP exam right after the last day of class, and I did it! I did not get carried away with any other resources. I felt better focusing on just those two reviews.
Who were your biggest motivators while you pursued your degree?
My husband was obviously one of the biggest supporters. He spent many hours taking care of our girls without my help so I could study and work on assignments. I could not have done it without him. My mom was also incredibly supportive and played a huge role in helping me succeed.
My girls are still so young and they were even younger when I started. They really did not understand what it meant that I was in school. They just knew that mommy needed to go do homework all the time. As I went through the program and my older daughter grew, she would sometimes get sad when I would have to leave the house to go find a quiet place to do my school work. All I kept thinking was, “I’m doing this for you.” That kept me going.
How was graduation? How does it feel to be done?
Once I was completely done, I did not know what to with all my new free time! It felt fantastic. Graduation was a great day because I got to spend it with the people who supported me the most. It felt great to walk across the stage and have the President of Chamberlain congratulate me. At graduation, I thought of the day over two and a half years ago when I said, “I think I want to go back to school,” and was filled with pride because I had done it.
What would you tell someone considering Chamberlain’s MSN-FNP track?
I was very happy with the program and felt very prepared to take boards and start practicing. I had a wonderful practicum coordinator that helped me get everything in order. I was always able to get in touch with student services when I needed to and received helpful answers. I will always recommend Chamberlain to anyone that asks. I am very grateful for the education that was provided to me as it helped me get to the career goal I was striving for.
Do you have any questions you want to ask a MSN or MSN-FNP Graduate? Share them in the comments below!
Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program can be found at www.chamberlain.edu/gemsn.
By Christina Young
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