Cindy Wilk, MSN, RN, CNS, CCRN, CNE, Kent State University College of Nursing senior lecturer and adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist (AGCNS) master’s concentration coordinator, has been educating at the college level for 13 years. Her love for teaching patients and mentoring new nurses inspired her to go into academia. As the program coordinator, Wilk enjoys helping to guide her students through learning a new career path. Today she joins us to highlight the adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist master’s concentration and share some of her personal nursing experiences.

Q: Hello, Cindy! We are so glad to have you joining us this morning! To get the conversation started, what skills do students learn in the AGCNS program?

A: Thank you, it’s a privilege to have this opportunity. The AGCNS program focuses on the patient-direct care sphere of impact and introduces students to the CNS role. Additionally, we focus on outcome monitoring and project management including completing a quality improvement/gap analysis project.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a CNS?

A: As a CNS, you can focus on improving outcomes and advancing the science of nursing through mentorship of staff and implementing the most current evidence into nursing practice.

Q: How can students be most successful in this program?

A: Never stop asking ‘why are we doing things this way?’ and never stop learning, even after graduation.

Q: What types of career choices will graduates have after completing the program?

A: They can function as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in any setting, or they can function as a care coordinator for a specific specialty, a case manager, an educator; the possibilities are endless.

Q: Can you share a favorite student success story?

A: Many of our CNS students have become presidents of local and national organizations, published and presented both locally and nationally, completed their doctoral degrees, or precepted our students.

Q: Switching gears, Cindy, tell us how you came to work in the nursing profession.

A: I have always loved helping people and learning about science and the human body. Nursing felt like the most logical career choice. I specialized in critical care, where I enjoyed the high level of critical thinking and advanced technology. I chose to transition into the CNS role during my MSN program because I wanted to have more flexibility as an APRN rather than just providing direct care.

Q: What has been the most memorable moment in your nursing career?

A: There have been so many, but overall my favorite memories were training BSN students for their critical care rotation. There were so many “a-ha” moments that they experienced. I truly enjoyed watching them grow as nursing professionals.

Q: In what ways has the nursing profession changed throughout your career?

A: There have been many advancements in patient safety. I remember mixing my own potassium drips when I first began, which would never happen now!

Q: We appreciate the time you’ve taken out of your busy schedule to talk with us. Before we wrap up, do you have any advice for new graduates working in your specialty?

A: Thank you for having me today! I would encourage graduates to not be afraid to ask questions. Expect to always learn something new every day!