“Don’t let anything stop you! Find the support you need and don’t delay the decision because you think you’re too busy. If it’s important to you, then just do it and don’t listen to the naysayers.”
In this SNAC Success Story, Dorothy Neufeld, Associate Professor of Nursing, is looking back on her experience of completing a doctorate of nursing practice from Duquesne University while simultaneously teaching full-time in the associate degree program at State College of Florida.
“It was helpful for me to be a student at the same time I was a teacher! Everything I encountered to complete my doctorate was happening to my students during the Covid crisis. It was affecting me similarly to them and those parallels have helped me to understand the difficulties for all types of students during this strange year. It was an emotionally tough year. During the daytime while I was teaching I have to be strong and supportive to my students who are very concerned about not being able to graduate on time or even at all! And then in the night time, when I was online completing my doctoral courses, I found I needed the same support from my nursing faculty.”
“Pick a good university that has a philosophy similar to yours. One of the reasons I chose Duquesne is that it allowed me to study abroad and I wanted that experience. I was able to go to Rome and other places in Italy and Sicily to compare and contrast our healthcare systems.We experienced outreach to the refugees and the homeless and elderly as well as acute care hospitals within Palermo and Rome. It’s amazing to go into a building built in the 1500s that is currently serving as an acute care hospital.”
“The most important way I am using my doctoral education as I teach now is to incorporate evidence-based practice and research into all of the content. I teach medical surgical and pediatric contact for the second year students in the associate degree nursing program at state college of Florida.”
“Nursing Faculty has had to become very creative and innovative during this COVID time of necessary alternatives for education.”
SNAC is pleased to have awarded Dorothy a Doctoral scholarship to complete her Doctoral degree. Seven local Nursing faculty have now received assistance for graduate school from SNAC funders.
Those are the first two words of advice coming from Angela Vitale PhD. Angela just graduated in August 2020 with her PhD in Nursing education from Walden University. Her four-year journey started in 2016 and she embarked on it while having two young children not yet in high school and working full-time as faculty at Florida Southwestern State College associate degree program in nursing.
This is one determined and hard-working woman!
Angela had already earned a Master of Science in Nursing education from Walden and that experience helped with her choice of university but she did look at others before making the decision. “There are only a few PhD programs in nursing education, four or five in the United States, and this one happened to fit my schedule better because of the weekend long residencies versus full week residencies.” Congruency with a work schedule and home life is one of the most important aspects in choosing a curriculum and a university..
“So many people are overwhelmed because they don’t want to think about the time needed to complete a doctoral degree and dissertation. But if you break it down into parts and work each part separately it will finally come together and you will have accomplished your goal! It was encouraging to see how many people around me were cheerleading and helping. Faculty members would volunteer to pick up work for me and of course the support of my family was essential.”
Equally essential is the financial ability to go back to school. “I am so grateful for all SNAC did, the finances were amazing. The SNAC team made me feel so supported and elevated. That energy pushes you to get it done and keep going.”
So, what did you learn about yourself during this journey Angela? “Oh my gosh I learned way more than I ever would have imagined but first and foremost I learned how capable I am of doing whatever I set my mind to. Now I encourage everyone to go back to school. We need so many prepared nursing faculty to teach the next generation of nurses. We have so much wisdom to pass on and we must build talent and engender expertise in our professional nurses.”
Angela contributed to Nursing education research by investigating The Impact of Faculty Bullying on Associate Degree Nursing Students. A topic of concern in nursing schools and health care facilities across the country, she surveyed recently graduated nurses to determine perceptions and feelings.
“The Impact of Faculty Bullying on Associate Degree Nursing Students” by Angela M. Vitale – ScholarWorks Bullying is prevalent in the profession of nursing, impacting the quality of health care and health care costs. The foundation of bullying, in the profession of nursing, may be attributed to bullying behaviors in nursing academia among nursing faculty and nursing students. Using Bandura’s social learning theory, the purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between bullying … scholarworks.waldenu.edu
Angela Vitale PhD recommends “Don’t hesitate”. Contact your SNAC nurse education navigator today and get started on considerations for your advanced nursing degree. Don’t hesitate!
Melanie McCall RN is one of many Suncoast area nurses well into her fifties who has decided “it’s finally time to just get this thing done”. Melanie is enrolled in Grand Canyon University for her bachelor of science in nursing degree. “The first class was a huge departure and it took me some time to re-appropriate and get my schedules in balance. I have completed 4 courses and currently in community and public health. This class is right up my alley… epidemiology, disease, public health… it’s all very familiar and comfortable!! I finally gotten the groove and have straight A’s in all of my courses.”
“It seems I do some things late! I did not become a mother till the age of 42! Vastin, my son, is 17 and lives mostly with his father on a cattle ranch in Arcadia where he enjoys hunting, fishing and riding his horses. He comes to see me in Punta Gorda when he is ready to fish the canals and the harbor. “
Melanie also is a soprano soloist with local orchestras
In addition to having a baby in her forties and going back to school in her fifties, Melanie has just become a new bride! “We are in the same room every evening and he is very tolerant of looking at my back as I work on the computer doing school work. Bill is the kindest soul I’ve ever met. We both see the time spent online with Grand Canyon is an investment in our future.”
“Grand Canyon has been wonderful because they provide an advisor and mentor. That gal is phenomenal. She met with us all weekly during the first class all the way through to make sure we knew what we were doing in the cloud system, on papers, helping us with APA format. Looking over our papers to give us positive or negative feedback. She really goes all out. She wants to make sure we are successful. This has been such a positive experience. I am now thinking of becoming a nurse practitioner and I am even toying with the idea of the doctorate in nursing.”
“The SNAC nurse education navigator has been useful in providing contacts and advice for choosing a good fit for my graduate program and information about scholarships at the bachelors and doctoral level.”
Melanie has over 30 years of experience in nursing and currently practices as board certified infection control practitioner at Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte. She feels that Fawcett Memorial has been particularly supportive of nurses returning to advance their professional education. The tuition assistance HCA has been a major factor in deciding to return to school. “It’s a benefit the hospital offers and if you don’t use it, you lose it! It makes sense to take full advantage.” Melanie is also applying for other scholarships throughout the Suncoast including the SNAC BSN completion scholarship.
SNAC asked Melanie what recommendations she would give to other nurses in their fifties. “Don’t ever think you can’t do it, because you can! Especially in your fifties when things are settled. But don’t put it off because the older we get the harder it is.”
“Two years ago, the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC) implemented a strategy to propel its objective to increase the number and percentage of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree nurses in the area. SNAC is following the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) blueprint for change defined in its landmark report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The report recommends that 80% of nurses have a BSN or higher degree. This region has 33% BSNs. Nurses with higher levels of education reduce medical errors and hospital readmissions. Quite simply: with more BSNs, we have better access to better care.
SNAC’s research showed there was a need for a resource to support individuals considering a degree in nursing. SNAC created a Nursing Education Navigator (NEN) to guide, mentor, and match individuals’ needs and desires with the best programs for them considering the type of degree, accreditation, and financial assistance.