Brenda Williams always figured at some point she would get her master’s degree.
“I knew nursing in general would soon require a graduate degree for the type of work I was doing,” said Williams, an education specialist in the cardiac intensive care unit at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center. “But I had three busy kids so there was never a great time to go back to school.”
Brenda was finishing a term on a professional nursing council three years ago, right about the time Mount St. Joseph University launched two nursing graduate programs: the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Brenda decided it was time to go back to school.
“The ten-week sessions gave me time to enjoy my kids and my life,” she said.
Williams is one of 33 MSN candidates and 13 DNP candidates who will receive their degrees at the Mount’s Commencement on Saturday, May 9, 2015. This Commencement marks the first graduating classes of the Mount’s graduate nursing MSN and DNP programs.
Lisa Hess, also an MSN candidate in the administration track, says the program’s blended format—which combines online and face-to-face classes—is a tremendous asset.
“A huge bonus was the flexibility of the program, and the fact that the Mount is cognizant of the needs of adult learners,” she said. “I met a few times each session with the professors whose support was incredible.”
Mary Pat Gilligan, a DNP candidate, agrees the support of the professors sets the program apart.
“One of the things I love about the Mount is that the professors understand work-life balance and encourage mission work,” said Gilligan, director of perioperative services at Good Samaritan Hospital. “I recently went to Tanzania with the Good Samaritan Foundation and my professors, Gail Burns and Nancy Hinzman, worked with me to incorporate my experiences into my learning and allowed me the resources to complete my assignments. Life isn’t black and white, especially at the graduate level.”
Gilligan’s advanced degree prepares her to continue her work of educating nurses. “TriHealth keeps growing. And as the nursing population ages, we need to continue educating the next generation of nurses.”
This year, the MSN and DNP candidates joined the BSN candidates at an all-nursing Convocation before Commencement where they received their traditional nurses’ pins. Most of them, including Brenda Williams, say they’ll also take part in the Commencement ceremony to receive their diplomas.
“I want my kids (ages 17, 15 and 13) to be at each of these events so they can see how hard I worked for this diploma,” Williams said. “I’m so glad I did it.”