Torn between nursing and teaching, alumna Allyson Chicoski, MSN ‘17, RN, CNE, was encouraged to become a nurse by her mother and her grandmother, who was a registered nurse. Having successfully completed Kent State University College of Nursing’s Nursing Educator master’s program, Allyson is enjoying the best of both professions as an associate lecturer for Cleveland State University, where she teaches undergraduate nursing students and serves on the curriculum committee. Today, Allyson joins us to share what it was like to be a Kent State University College of Nursing graduate student.
Q: Thank you for speaking with us, Allyson. Let’s get started! Why did you want to pursue your master’s in nurse education?
A: Thank you for inviting me to be here! As you mentioned, at the beginning of my professional career, I debated between teaching and nursing. I have always enjoyed learning, and many people have told me that I have a talent for explaining concepts and ideas clearly. After 20 years at the bedside, I was ready for a change. I knew becoming a nurse practitioner was not the direction in which I felt called, so I followed my other passion, and that led me to the nurse educator program.
Q: What made Kent State’s nurse educator program more desirable than other schools?
A: At the time, I was looking into various programs and Carol Sedlak, Professor Emeritus at Kent State University College of Nursing, personally called me to have a conversation. She was the only program representative to reach out to me out of all the universities I was considering at the time, and it was a nice touch. Our conversation was wonderful; she was very warm and encouraging as she listened to my concerns. In the end, it was Carol’s personal interest in me and my education that showed me Kent State University was where I belonged. Additionally, not having to take the GRE was a bonus!
Q: How did you manage both working and being a Kent State University College of Nursing graduate student?
A: That was the beauty of online learning; I could work on my classes when I had the time. It was hard to get back in the swing of things, but as an adult student for the second time, I knew not to procrastinate.
Q: What did you most enjoy about your nurse educator program?
A: I really enjoyed this program. I had a wonderful relationship with Carol, and then Tina Saunders, MSN, RN, CNE, GCNS-BS, senior lecturer and program coordinator, once Carol retired. All my instructors took a personal interest in me and my education. They were available to answer questions or when I needed additional guidance.
The education I received from Kent State University College of Nursing was solid and helped me pass the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) examination. I was very grateful this program was online. Originally, I thought I wanted a face-to-face class, but I loved the convenience of learning online. As a student, I also had the opportunity to put together a manuscript that was published in a peer-reviewed nursing journal. This program was hard work, but through the support of my faculty, I was provided with the tools necessary to be successful.
Q: How have you applied the lessons you learned in the Nurse Educator concentration to your nursing career?
A: As a faculty member, I make course objectives to ensure the content I am teaching meets the needs of my students in each course. I have improved my teaching by incorporating experiential learning strategies whenever possible. With future changes coming to the NCLEX, I am preparing my students now by incorporating test questions designed to assess higher-level thinking.
Q: What advice do you have for other nurses considering getting their Nurse Educator degree?
A: I was a Graduate Curriculum Council (GCC) representative during my master’s program. By participating in GCC, I could see the curriculum development as I was learning about it in my classes. I also highly recommend working as an adjunct instructor and becoming involved in staff development.
Q: It has been wonderful talking with you, Allyson. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your Kent State University College of Nursing graduate student experience?
A: With an online program, it can be easy to not get involved, but I would encourage students to stay in touch with a small group of their peers. It is important to network, especially when you get into the education courses. Make it a point to get to know your peers as more than just your fellow students.