"It gives me great pleasure to offer you unconditional admission to the Niehoff School of Nursing of Loyola University Chicago."
That's right, I was accepted to graduate school.
Let me take a moment to do a happy dance.
After deciding to "settle back in" to life here in La Crosse, I did some soul searching in anticipation of needing to re-direct my career path given my back injury. Many jobs in nursing require a master's degree, especially those that would accommodate my restrictions. Lots of nurses decide to get their master's and become a nurse practitioner, a career which never appealed to me. Others obtain their master's to teach at the collegiate level, with the intent to later pursue a PhD. With the few years of experience as a nurse I had under my belt, teaching, although an eventual goal of mine, wasn't realistic at this point. Where did that leave me? What type of degree would I get? What job would make me happy?
The Clinical Nurse Specialist.
What do they do? According to the APRN:
"Key elements of CNS practice are to create environments through mentoring and (p. 8) system changes that empower nurses to develop caring, evidence-based practices to alleviate patient distress, facilitate ethical decision-making, and respond to diversity. The CNS is responsible and accountable for diagnosis and treatment of health/illness states, disease management, health promotion, and prevention of illness and risk behaviors among individuals, families, groups, and communities."In essence, the CNS is a jack of all trades and works across the entire continuum of care. A perfect fit for someone with my background. Most CNS programs are geared toward the general. Critical care, adult care or pediatrics are the most common CNS specialties. Nurses then graduate and try to obtain jobs in the exact specialty they desire (i.e. pediatric surgery, cardiac care, geriatric care, ect). The program at Loyola is geared specifically toward the oncology population and is one of the only of its kind. As I have said many times before, oncology patients are my favorite and one that I feel passionate about. I will be taking courses in genetics, cancer biology, and research. And, yes, I'm excited about them; a trait the program director said makes me a perfect fit for the program.
I will be registering for classes this week and starting my first term in August. I'm excited and slightly nervous about being back in school. It will take about 3 years to complete the program as a part-time student. After I graduate, the world of possibility expands and who knows where it will take me. I'm jumping in with both feet. The last jump I made into the unknown turned out pretty well.