Starting a CNS Program this summer!

  1. Hi everyone...

    Well, I have decided that since my husband is in grad school, it is time for me to go back also.

    I have worked in two Level III NICU's in the past 2 years (we're military...had to move after my first year)

    The program I am entering is a completely online CNS program which allows the individual to specialize in Adult Health, Community/Mental Health, and Maternal/Child.

    Of course, I am going to choose the Maternal/Child route because it is basically my background and what I am interested in.

    I am worried about the program being completely online. I have never taken online courses before and wonder how a medical program/degree can be taught that way. How does one coordinate their clinical experiences?

    I am taking a 6 semester CNS program, so I will still be able to work full-time while I go. I work night shift, and the program I'm entering has a clinical affiliation with the hospital I work at now...so...do you think the night shift thing will get in the way??

    My main motivation for doing this program is to give myself more options and to get away from night shift and working every holiday and weekends! Plus, I wouldn't mind an increase in pay!

    Advice, Thoughts, Opinions??

    Will I be able to find jobs going the Maternal/Child route?? We have a clinical nurse leader and a neonatal educator here at my current hospital already (a large university hospital) Would I have better luck at a private hospital??
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    First, congrats on the decision to go to grad school. Since you are military, will you be staying put long enough to finish the program along with the clinicals? If you move, is there enough of a choice in clinical sites that you will be able to continue? Othere things to consider (which you have asked about) is the availability of jobs once you get out. What type of focus or role do you want to do? Educator? Advanced practice nurse? You are so right that you will have more options with an MSN. I will say that as a CNS, if you want an APN role, you need to be selective about the states that you live in. GA for one does not recognize the CNS as an APN.

    Good luck.
  4. by   llg
    About taking an online degree ... Does your program involve any clinical activity or preceptored experiences working on projects? If so, you need to arrange them immediately -- before you invest too much time and effort into the program. You need to be sure that you can find the preceptors and make whatever legal arrangements are necessary for you to complete those preceptorships/projects where you live.

    Hospitals get requests from students every week who would like to arrange clinical experiences at their hospital -- and they can't always say "yes" to every request. Sometimes there are requirements to be filled, such as the establishment of an affiliation agreement between your school and the hospital, that must be completed before any clinical work can occur -- and sometimes, those arrangements are too complicated to be accomplished.

    Another complication can be in finding a preceptor qualified to precept a graduate student who is willing to donate their time and expertise to you for free.

    Schools often say that these things are "no problem," but they lie. They want you to enroll in their courses so that they can stay in business. If you have trouble finding a preceptor and making legal arrangements to do your clinicals ... well ... that's YOUR problem, not the school's. You're the one who suffers, not them.

    So I strongly advise you to investigate that aspect of your educational program carefully (with the hospital as well as with the school) before you make a big investment.

    With a degree in Maternal/Child nursing, you will have lots of career options.

    llg
  5. by   pattchez
    It is great you have made the decision to return to school for a CNS degree. I agree with the previous posts about making sure you understand what kind of degree you seeking and does it match your expectations of working as a CNS. Your masters program, as a CNS program, should have at least 500 hours of clincial experiences or you will not be eligible to take the national certification as a CNS. In addition, the CNS program should have a grad. level patho-phy course as well as a pham. course. I am involved with a state CNS group and there continues to be discussion about CNSs completing a masters in nursing program ...only to discover they are not elibible to take a national certification for a CNS. Your clinical area is certainly in demand -- a NICU CNS is needed in large hospitals and I would encourage you to continue in that direction. Best wishes on your education and future career.
  6. by   traumaRUs
    Pattchez - I'm just curious what state you are in? I just completed a post-MSN CNS certificate in 2006 and had 500 hours of clinical and that is the norm here in IL. Is this a problem in other states? Thanks for any info.
  7. by   pattchez
    I am from AZ. The SBON recently changed the regulations for CNS including the required 500 hours, national certification as CNS which effected several CNSs in the state who do have the CNS tract in their MSN program to be elgible to sit for the national CNS certification. AZ inacted a one-year "window of opportunity" (11-05 to 11-06) for practicing CNSs to submit a portfolio to provide evidence of their CNS role & responsibilities -- but this CNS recognition is only good in AZ. Fortunately, I took my CNS program in 1980s and obtained my national certification as an Adult Health CNS prior to these issues. I believe it is important to provide prospective CNS students with "all the information" possible to ensure they will be otain the degree they need in order to be recognized as a CSN -- no matter what state they choose to work in.
  8. by   traumaRUs
    GOt it. I just completed my post-MSN CNS certificate in adult health in May 06 and it was drummed into us that there had to be a minimum of 500 hours of clinical time with an approved preceptor. Only 10% of the time could be with an MD. I was lucky in that they okay'd me being with an NP because I didn't know any CNS's.

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