When Janiece Paulat was growing up, she spent time in the hospital—an experience that shaped her life from there on out. “I always thought about nursing,” says Janiece, who grew up on the West Coast. By the time high school came around, she was certain about her path and became a candy striper. After graduating college with a BSN, Janiece made her way to obstetrics, getting in with Providence Health & Services.
Altering her path
Along the way, Janiece wanted to make a change. “I still enjoyed nursing, but realized that my favorite part of the job was teaching my patients,” she says. She explored opportunities to teach and ended up at a vocational high school, where she taught an applied medical science class preparing Certified Nurse Assistant students. After having a child, she continued to teach—as a clinical adjunct at a nursing school.
But when the recession began in 2008, Janiece’s husband lost his job and she stepped in to provide for her family, going back to the hospital floor full time. Though she had considered earning an MSN to build her resume for future educational aspirations, the timing wasn’t right. “I knew I would go at some point soon, but it just wasn’t a priority,” she says.
Finding American Sentinel University
Eventually, Janiece had her chance. Now a nurse in the obstetrics department at Legacy Health, she knew it was essential to earn the MSN. “At Legacy, as at many hospitals, there is a push to have most nurses earn a BSN by 2020, and those of us who have BSN degrees are being advised to earn an MSN to advance,” Janiece says. She met representatives from American Sentinel University at a hospital educational fair and liked everything she learned. “The admissions people answered every question I had. I liked the people, the program, and the flexibility.”
Janiece’s teaching experiences also taught her that an MSN and a doctorate would help her move toward teaching one day. “I saw that American Sentinel’s MSN had a nursing education specialization and the university had a practice-focused Doctor of Nursing Practice for education leaders, so it just seemed like a great fit for what I want to do.” She began the MSN in September 2015, graduated in May 2017, and after a three-month break, began the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership in August 2017.
Planning her future
As she begins her DNP journey, Janiece has dropped down to part time at Legacy and continues to teach as an adjunct part time at Concordia University. She has incredible support from her leadership team and colleagues at work, her husband, and her daughter. Her parents are also excited about her educational endeavors—she is a first-generation college student. “I want to show my daughter, who is 12, that women can do anything they want to, and that you can be a mom and have a career all at the same time.”
When she graduates, Janiece is open to the possibilities. “I’d love to get into staff development or maybe help change the professional development program at my workplace to be as effective as it can be,” she says. “I love to work with nursing students—I think it’s an amazing job. Although I don’t know exactly what will come next, I know that the MSN and DNP will help me fulfill my passion for teaching tomorrow’s nurses.”
Inspired by Janiece’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
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