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MSN Online - USA or UF?

Psychiatric   (4,233 Views | 11 Replies)
by CheezheadFLRN CheezheadFLRN (New) New

747 Profile Views; 10 Posts

Hello all. This is my first post but I have been reading posts on here for a very long time. I have become addicted to reading/researching posts more recently, one because I switched back to nights and its awfully quiet on my unit and two because I am considering going back to school for my MSN. A little about me.. I have a BSH in Community Health and a BSN. I have been a psych nurse for 4 years now, primarily working with adults but just switched to the peds psych world about two months ago. I LOVE the psych world. I ended up in psych by "chance" out of nursing school, as I intended to be a pediatric/maternal health nurse. I attempted med-surg for about 5 months on an awful floor and quickly ran back to the psych world! With that being said, I would like to get my MSN with an emphasis in psych/mental health. I would also like to add the education option or certificate that many of the schools offer now. So.. my question.. where do I apply for graduate school?

I am looking for an online program. I work full time and would need to continue working full time as I support myself. Good news is that I am single with no children right now so I can dive into the course work.

I have looked into UF and USA. Tuition is comparable for both schools. Both offer a Psychiatric-Mental Health NP track online. I know the reputation that UF has, as I live in Florida. I could use any additional information or feedback regarding the online NP program itself though. I do not know a lot about USA and many of the posts on here are out dated and negative. Can anyone in the track or that has completed the track, give me information on the program? Is it feasible to work full time and complete the MSN online part time? What is the course work like? How are the instructors? Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated! The anxiety of applying for graduate school is intense, I can only imagine what it feels like waiting for the acceptance letter!

Thanks!

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RHIA, RN has 12 years experience.

166 Posts; 9,132 Profile Views

I'm very interested in any response to your thread . . . I'm working full time and completing BSN online currently. I will be looking for an online program for mental health NP next year. So, all that to say- I'm following your post. Good luck!

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10 Posts; 747 Profile Views

The following is a good blog, if you havent read it already:

University of South Alabama MSN/BSN-DNP Psych NP 2012

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134 Posts; 3,926 Profile Views

I can't really answer your questions because I'm just starting at USA next week (MSN psych track) but I thought I would say hi and voice a few thoughts. First, I think you are making a great choice my pursuing a career as a PMHNP. My work history is similar to yours... Except I lasted only 3 weeks at my first nursing job (it was an ICU step-down) and went running. I started a job at a psychiatric hospital and have done only that for the last 4 years. It is my passion but I had no idea it would be until I tried it. I don't know much about UF. I didn't look into their program much because I didn't realize it was all online. I know USA requires like 2 short visits to the school, but I thought UF had other requirements that included time at the school. Maybe I'm wrong, it's not very clear on the site. But if you haven't already, I would clarify that with someone at the school before applying. Or maybe you are close... I'm down in Bradenton (just south of Tampa) so I didn't want to be traveling frequently to the school if some of the courses were not completely online. As far as working full time and going to school, I can not say yet from experience, but I think it is totally doable. It all depends on your motivation and how much you are willing to put into it. You could work part time and still slack off or not do well if you weren't motivated. I've read of plenty of others on here that go to NP school and work full time all the way through. Others say they have dropped to part time hours at work when they start clinicals. But it definitely helps that you don't have a lot of other things going on. I'm waiting until I finish school to have kids, but I can't imagine how all of those mothers do it. Anyway, my experience with USA has been good so far. I'm eager to start next week. I'll be taking 2 classes (6 credits) which is full time at the graduate level. The program is two and a half years. I will try to update you and let you know how classes are going. Good luck.

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10 Posts; 747 Profile Views

Thanks a million for your post! Please do keep me updated as you progress through the program. If I start, it would be next summer and it would be part-time, so I am thinking it will take me probably 3 years to complete. I didnt realized 2 classes is considered full-time at the graduate level. I think the part time program is 2 classes a semester too. Any advice as far as applying to the program?

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134 Posts; 3,926 Profile Views

Thanks a million for your post! Please do keep me updated as you progress through the program. If I start, it would be next summer and it would be part-time, so I am thinking it will take me probably 3 years to complete. I didnt realized 2 classes is considered full-time at the graduate level. I think the part time program is 2 classes a semester too. Any advice as far as applying to the program?

Oh no problem. Yea I think each school decides what they consider full time and part time. Some schools require 9 credits for full time status. I think USA states that 6-10 credit hours is considered full time at the graduate level. I did notice that our curriculum schedule is pretty much the same as the part time track for spring. I believe I have only 6 credits every semester except one (in which I have 9 credits). So I don't know why they call one full time and the other part time.

Anyway, as far as your application... I would just make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to do the NursingCAS app. For that one you will have to request 2 copies of transcripts (one sent to yourself and one to NursingCAS) from every college you have been to. Then you have to input each course into the NursingCAS website including the exact course name the way it appears on your transcript, the grade you received, and the credit hours. If you have a lot of college credits, this can be pretty tedious and time consuming. You also have to fill out some other info on that site. Then NursingCAS will have to verify everything against your transcripts and they calculate your GPA. I think that whole process took me about a month from the time I requested my transcripts until my application was verified. So just make sure you plan for that. There is a secondary app that you fill out and send to USA but that was a lot simpler. You don't need to worry about GRE or letters of recommendation. So I guess my advice would be to just make sure you read everything on the USA website and make sure you complete all the parts of the app as instructed. And then after that just be ready to wait. Even if you apply early you won't find out anything until 6-8 weeks after the application deadline. And for us, it was actually another couple weeks after that, because they got behind. But good luck to you and I will try to keep you posted.

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134 Posts; 3,926 Profile Views

Oh a couple more things lol... I know a lot of people have concerns with finding preceptors for online programs. USA already has affiliation agreements with several hospitals and other facilities across the US. They recommend that you try to do your clinicals at one of those sites, if possible. I found 3 facilities within an hour from where I live that are on the list, so I will probably go that route if I can when I start clinicals next fall. That's supposedly the quickest process when setting up your clinicals. If there is not already an agreement in place, you can try to get the preceptor and facility to sign this 2 page agreement that is already drawn up. If you are able to do that route, it is a pretty simple and quick process as well from what I understand. Some facilities are not willing to sign the agreement the way it is written... I guess due to legalities. So if that's the case, the school will have to set up an affiliate agreement with the facility and that's the lengthy process that could take around 4 months or so to get the site approved. I don't think it will be a big issue as long as you plan ahead and you won't be starting clinicals right away so you should have plenty of time to get all that set up. If you do have issues, USA has a clinical coordinator that can help you find sites/preceptors. For the psych track, you have to do about half of your hours in an inpatient program and half outpatient. And since it's a family psych NP program, you also have so many hours with children/adolescents (I think they said 50 hours). If you found the "perfect" preceptor that did both inpatient and outpatient and saw kids and adults, you could potentially have the same preceptor throughout the whole program. That's definitely a plus because other specialty tracks require hours in several different areas, requiring multiple preceptors. You can do your clinicals with a family psych NP or a psychiatrist.

I started my classes this past week. One class (patho) is tons of reading and an exam every 2-3 weeks. Your grade is completely based on the 7 exams that you will take throughout the semester. Your exams are taken at home and proctored through an online service where your are watched and listened to through your computer via your webcam/microphone. You have to take it on a specific day but have from 12 am to midnight that day to sign in and take it. My other class is a lot of papers and a few online discussions but no exams. So far I am pleased with my choice :)

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Stephalump has 2 years experience and specializes in Forensic Psych.

2,723 Posts; 15,271 Profile Views

RN543, thank you for all the information! I've been planning on applying to USA to start next year, hopefully. Good to know what's involved!

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10 Posts; 747 Profile Views

RN 543-

You have been fantastic with all the information you have provided! I am actually getting a little exciting to start school again, as before I was kind of dreading going back to school. I have already started a rough draft of the CAS (from transcripts I printed offline) and will just compare what I have with the actual transcripts. It was definitely time consuming! I have 6 years of schooling, two degrees, and went to three colleges. LOL Do you know if Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, FL is on the list of preceptor sites? I currently work there. I was on the adult psych unit for a year and now I am on the peds psych unit, so I have a lot of connections as far as precepting goes. Many of our docs do inpatient and outpatient as well. :) Please keep me posted!

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134 Posts; 3,926 Profile Views

RN 543-

You have been fantastic with all the information you have provided! I am actually getting a little exciting to start school again, as before I was kind of dreading going back to school. I have already started a rough draft of the CAS (from transcripts I printed offline) and will just compare what I have with the actual transcripts. It was definitely time consuming! I have 6 years of schooling, two degrees, and went to three colleges. LOL Do you know if Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, FL is on the list of preceptor sites? I currently work there. I was on the adult psych unit for a year and now I am on the peds psych unit, so I have a lot of connections as far as precepting goes. Many of our docs do inpatient and outpatient as well. :) Please keep me posted!

Oh no problem :) There is a Baptist Health Care Corporation in Pensacola which includes Baptist hospital in Pensacola. I don't know if that's the same thing or not, probably not. I'm not sure if this link will work but here is a list of the clinical affiliations, listed by state. This info is on the USA site for anyone to see but it's hard to find if you don't know where to look.

http://www.southalabama.edu/nursing/documents/ClinicalAgenciesbyState_014.pdf

If not, you can try to get the hospital to sign the 2 page agreement like I mentioned. If they won't do that, you can get the school to establish an affiliation agreement. This second link has the 2 page agreement as well as some other forms. Once you get accepted into the program and do your online webinar orientation the first week, you can start planning your clinicals and still have plenty of time to arrange everything just in case they won't sign the 2 page agreement and an affiliation agreement has to be established.

http://www.southalabama.edu/nursing/cmnforms.html

Hope this helps :)

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10 Posts; 747 Profile Views

I can not thank you enough! I was able to open the forms, and on the list there are several local hospitals, including the one I currently work for. :) You rock!

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