Semester-Ending Specials

Well, here it is the end of another semester… the first of my (perhaps thousands) of semesters at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. Now, I know someone with a tie to the Pittsburgh area may be thinking… ok, “nursingGUY”, what’s he doing at a women’s college? Apparently, Carlow isn’t just for women anymore… or for that matter, not just for Catholics. It seems that Carlow, like most everywhere else, will take anyone’s money, even an old “Pollock” like me. The nice thing about Carlow’s graduate nurse practitioner program is that I don’t have to go downtown all the time. The satellite campuses are just fine, like the one close to the hospital where I work. Every Tuesday for the next 17 years (or so it will seem), I’ll be doing a sort of “get up early – run to Starbucks – head to class – try not to drive myself nuts – head home to the wife & kinder” thing. And racking up thousands in school loans along the way.

But there’s something kind of special about coming to the end of a semester, especially when you know you’ve been doing reasonably well. Back when I was in nursing school, I was scared out of my gourd to get below the magic “76%” number. Nurses of every stripe will quickly recall the nursing student’s mantra, “C equals RN”. Looking back at this semester, I’m actually amazed at how well I’ve done (so far – I have one other class to finish next Tuesday). Whilst chatting with many of my co-workers at the hospital, about ½ of them are back off to school, reaching for the BSN, and perhaps stopping there, though about a third of those returning to school on my unit alone, are pursuing an NP (Nurse Practitioner) track. Around here, the pickins’ aren’t slim: Penn State, Pitt, and Carlow, are only the big three in Pittsburgh that offer Nurse Practitioner education. Though none of them are like me, already having a Bachelor’s and making the BSN the second, the bad news is that there’s lots of nurses in the hospital I’m currently working in who are working toward an ultimate NP; seemingly this would constitute a glut of eventual NP’s floating around out there. The good news is that (as of this writing) there’s a intense lack of general and family practice physicians in Pennsylvania, which makes Family Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (FNP) uniquely suited to fill that gap.

Mama didn’t raise “no” dummies.

And as if that wasn’t enough, now we have the cool new degree, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). It’s interesting that my hospital’s Director of Nursing, who was my teacher for a class this past semester, is herself pursuing the DNP via Carlow’s brand-new DNP program… she likes to call her group the “guinea pigs” as they’re trail-blazing for those to come. My only concern is – what do you do with a DNP? Theoretically, it’d give you more standing with your facility, but given that there is certainly a difference in educational goals between the DNP and the traditional Ph.D in nursing, it appears that the DNP will be able to contribute more to the practical side of nursing. But being at the doctorate level, that respect must still be honoured. So… when this DON graduates and receives her degree, do we address her as “Doctor Nurse”?

For now, at least, it’s a short break, enough to watch the snow fly, the doctors’ “thank-you & Merry Christmas” goodies arrive by the day, and the overtime-hogs whine and cry that they can’t get any, because everyone else wants theirs so they can get extra holiday money. January will be a different story.