I Chose Drexel: Elaine Conn's Story
Every student’s got a story. That’s why we’ll be introducing a new blog series this fall allowing current students and alumni to illustrate their experience as an online student in their own words. If you’re interested in authoring a blog post, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Elaine Conn's story:
"I chose Drexel University’s online program to pursue my MSN in nursing education to fulfill a dream I always had—a dream put on hold due to family obligations, a full time job and life in general. Today I can say that, as I approach the completion of the program in the spring of 2016, it has been the best decision of my 30 year professional career in clinical practice.
The decision to pursue an advanced degree as a non-traditional student is more than just chasing a dream. The reality of the technical skills needed to accomplish the goal in an online forum can be a stumbling block and a reason for many students like myself to choose not to accept the challenge. I did have trouble figuring out how to navigate through the classes, posting on discussion boards and submitting assignments through the course sites that caused me to question if I could achieve my dream. I knew I had the clinical background and passion for learning that are necessary to succeed in the program, but would those qualities be enough? My questions and issues with the technology were soon answered and supported by an online mentor. She called me prior to the beginning of my first class and helped me work through any problems I encountered via weekly phone calls throughout my first year. Her support and encouragement were matched by faculty members who answered my many questions and always gave me direction on any issues I faced.
Drexel faculty members understand the unique challenges that online learners face and turn these challenges into teaching opportunities. For example, when I submitted my first paper to Dr. Holt I did not save it as a PDF and the formatting became distorted. Dr. Holt talked me through it over the phone so that I could resubmit my paper and continued to teach me many computer skills that would help me through the program. Every professor I have had in the program exudes mentorship, leadership, and knowledge and has taught me invaluable skills that I have translated into my clinical practice. As a result of what I learned in the MSN program, I identified gaps in care at the bedside and was instrumental in improving patient outcomes.
The program provides students with a wealth of resources including assistance with writing skills and advice on how to navigate library resources. Additionally, the blackboard course sites and tech support were advantageous in helping me learn new technology without missing a beat.
As I approached my practicum experience, I was once again feeling overwhelmed with all the necessary requirements I had to submit for compliance. My academic adviser, the program director, and compliance officer walked me through the steps and calmed my fears. Dr. Gallagher assisted me with finding a contact for my clinical experience, who provided me with guidance on how to teach in the classroom. I am excited and energized to be able to put into practice all the skills I have learned in the program into the classroom, where I will be the teacher. My hope for the future is that I can be as effective and helpful to my students as the Drexel faculty have been to me!
My purpose in writing my story is to allay any fears and anxiety future students might perceive as obstacles and encourage you to reach for your dreams. Know that Drexel’s faculty and resources will be there to help you in your journey. My only regret is that I did not pursue my advanced degree sooner in my career, but I am so happy that I did and am very excited about my role in nursing in the years to come."
-Elaine Conn RN, BSN