Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 6, 2002 - A new Clinical Nurse Specialist track in the Master of Science in Nursing degree program at Southeast Missouri State University is offering students a combined focus on the roles of the clinician, the educator, the researcher, and the care manager.

Dr. Linda Heitman, assistant professor of nursing, says, "the purpose of the degree is to educate advanced practice nurses to care for patients and their families."

The new track, which was launched this fall, focuses on care for people and the changes that are taking place in today's society.

"We have an aging society, where people are living with very complicated illnesses. At the same time, it is well known that there is a worldwide shortage of nurses," Heitman said. "We need nurses to care for these patients in multiple settings."

Christine Fadler of Jackson, Mo., a student in the Care Management track, has been employed in the intensive care unit at Southeast Missouri Hospital for 11 years and has practiced as a nurse for three years. From her past experiences, she says she has seen severely ill patients who end up staying in institutions for a very long time.

"I think this track fits my needs because I want to focus on gaining the expert skills needed to work in an acute setting. Care management is about working with complicated cases and ensuring they do not develop setbacks," Fadler said. "In addition, I would like to do research in the field and to teach others what I know. I like that the track is very broad and encompasses many things."

Fadler also stresses the flexibility and creativity of the program.

"I enjoy the freedom students have to get out of the program what they want," she says, "It is possible to try many different clinical experiences." Currently, Fadler is completing a graduate assistantship in the Department of Nursing.

Students in the Care Management track are required to complete 540 hours of clinical practice before they graduate. The high number of clinical hours ensures that graduating students are eligible to sit for the national certification exam, which is recognized around the world. Clinical experiences are tailored to the students and their interests.

"The students have very different backgrounds and fairly significant experiences, Heitman said." They know what they need to do a better job of caring for the patients, and that is why we try to make the education as flexible as possible for the individual student."

Heitman adds, "Graduate school has to be different than it was decades ago. It has to be constructed to support students in this point in time. We want to encourage nurses to come back to school, and by individualizing their experiences here, we provide students with a quality education while allowing them to manage their own lives."

As a reaction to changes in today's technology one course in the track will be offered on the Web.

Students in the track are finding that accessibility of the faculty in the Department of Nursing fosters participation among the students. In addition, the smaller number of students in the track allows faculty to spend more time with the students.

"The faculty is very encouraging and helpful," Fadler says.

The Care Management track has enjoyed great support from the medical community, Heitman said. The community has realized the increasing need for advanced nurses and supports the program by providing opportunities for clinical experiences to the students.

"I have received wonderful support from the medical community," Fadler said. "I feel they are interested in my education, and some have even asked me to come back again."

The program also enjoys support from a fellowship grant, which covers tuition for selected students. The program also offers graduate assistantships, and Fadler currently holds one such position in the Department of Nursing.

"I assist students who are in clinical internships," she says. "I also serve as a clinical preceptor in the intensive care unit for undergraduate students. I help them fine tune their clinical skills before they graduate and go into the real world. I enjoy helping students."

Fadler also serves as a student representative on the Graduate Nursing Program Committee and she is a member of the Heartland Association of Advanced Practice Nurses.

During her time as a student at Southeast Fadler has received several awards. In both 2002 and 2003 she was included in "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges", which honors students based on their academic achievement, service to the community, leaderships, and potential for future success. She was also accepted into the Honor Society of Nursing - Sigma Theta Tau International, and she is represented on the Dean's Honor Roll.

Students in the program finish their degree with either a thesis or a research project. Heitman says the Department of Nursing feels strongly about encouraging students to submit their research for publication. Fadler is already in the process of planning for her thesis. Her topic is "Family Presence During Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation - Should Families Be Present During Efforts to Revive Patients?"

After she completes the program, Fadler is considering pursuing a doctoral degree.

"I enjoy school as well as all my clinical experiences I gain from being in this program," she said. "The more I learn, the more I realize I still need to learn. Keeping up to date is a challenge in this profession. You never stop learning."


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