Alumni & Faculty Chat: Online MSN in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

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Experienced nurses with a passion for providing quality care to children can discover new career opportunities by earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Pediatrics online to prepare for board licensure as a nurse practitioner. We connected with one of our online MSN alumni from the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program to talk about her journey through the program, all the way into her current role as a PNP working at Boston Children’s Hospital in Neurology and Epilepsy.

Watch the video to get to know Heather Pomella, MSN, RN, CPNP, CNRN and her PNP story, Alicia, a senior enrollment advisor for the online graduate nursing programs at Regis, and Assistant Dean for the online Graduate Nursing programs, Dr. Michele Pedulla, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC.

The online MSN is a virtual extension of our highly regarded on-campus program, one of the largest nurse practitioner programs in Massachusetts. At Regis College, we work directly with active nursing professionals to provide an educational experience rooted in today’s prevailing medical practices, while also imparting the critical thinking skills necessary to excel as a nurse practitioner. Students enrolled in the online MSN program can benefit from:

  • Choose from three start times per year and complete your coursework 100% online
  • Flexible entry paths: ADN/BSN/Bachelor’s to MSN
  • Complete in as few as 28-36 months
  • Qualify to sit for board certification exams
  • Transfer maximum credit hours

Watch the video below to learn more.


Alicia Singh:

Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining our fireside chat to discuss the master’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program offered through Regis College. Today we have two special guests. We have Dr. Michele Pedulla who is the acting Pediatric NP program director and assistant dean for Regis College. We also have Heather Pomella, who is a pediatric nurse practitioner and Regis College Pediatric NP Program alumni as well, who’s going to share her experiences with taking the online program. Michele and Heather, feel free to go ahead.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

Hi, I’m Dr. Michele Pedulla and I am an associate professor here at Regis College. I am the acting PNP program director and actually was PNP program director while Heather was in classes and I’m now actually an assistant dean with Regis College. I am originally from the Chicago area but have lived in Florida for a number of years now too. Pediatrics has always been my dream and it has been all that I’ve worked in for 36 years as a registered nurse, as a pediatric nurse practitioner, became a preceptor, became a professor and now have moved into the assistant dean role. I’m very proud to introduce Heather Pomella as one of our Regis alumni here.

Heather Pomella:

Thank you Michele, it’s so nice to do this with you and thank you Alicia. My name is Heather Pomella. I’m a pediatric nurse practitioner at Boston Children’s Hospital with the Department of Neurology and I work on the inpatient epilepsy and neurology services. As Michele and Alicia said, I am a Regis College alumni. I graduated from the PNP online program in 2019 and I have always worked in pediatrics myself. I’ve been an RN now for almost eight years and all of it was spent mostly in pediatric primary care.

Before I became an NP and I actually moved into an acute care role (where I am now) and I’ve been a nurse practitioner for almost actually little over two years to the day. On November 5th, 2019, is when I started my job, so we’re now at November 8th, 2021. So, two years in the making and I absolutely love pediatrics. I don’t think I will ever leave pediatrics. You get to see something different every day, you get to have fun at your job, you get to be goofy and you get to have a lot of fun with exams. So, thank you guys for letting me do this today.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

So Heather, you know, Alicia and I can certainly speak to all of our candidates and let them know how exciting it is to be a part of our program and some of their time commitments and that type of thing, and our educational experience too, but it speaks volumes to hear it from somebody that’s actually been there. So, could you share a little bit of that information with us please?

Heather Pomella:

Yeah, so when I attended the program, I was an RN at the time and I was working full-time, full 40 hours, and I was not able to drop that but I knew I wanted to become a nurse practitioner and so I set out to find a program that would allow me to continue to work full-time but also can be able to fulfill my dreams and become a nurse practitioner and that’s when I came across the Regis College online program and I noted that they also had a PNP program, which is very special to me. I loved pediatrics and I did not want to end up becoming an FNP. Not that that’s not a great perspective as well but I wanted to make sure I stayed in my specialty. I was able to find the Regis online program and I noticed when looking at the curriculum, it had everything that I wanted but also allowed me to work at my own time and still be able to continue my full-time work. And so, when I entered the program, I of course was a little worried to make sure that I was going to be able to handle all of that and I was able to.

The professors really work with you. You have everything really laid out in front of you. You have the whole syllabus, right away, right at the beginning. You can see you when everything is due. You’re really allowed to have your own time management and it tells you when everything needs to be prepared, when you need to get it done etc. You have professors at your fingertips, literally. You can email them and they answer you all the time, especially Michele, but you would get a response right away. If there was something you weren’t sure about or you have to submit something but maybe you’re thinking it was going to be late, you can talk to them about how you could make it work best for you.

So, it was really nice to have that all laid out for me and I was able to work around my work hours and still get my course work done and always have the availability of jumping onto open office hours with one of the professors. If there’s something I was concerned about, if I didn’t understand some of the content, they were always there to help you out. So, it was really nice to be able to find that balance and it was something I was worried about but then once I got into it, it was able to work out and it was really great. 

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

I think that it helps tremendously to hear it from you. Is there any situation or are there any challenges that you feel that you had to deal with, that you didn’t plan for, and can you share with us how you overcame that and then, maybe some of your favorite memories or things that maybe you decided you don’t want to remember from our program.

Heather Pomella:

So, definitely nothing that I don’t want to remember or just being in school – of course it was a lot. But in terms of some challenges that I encountered, so, I had actually finished all the course work before I finished my clinical hours. I think I was one of the first students that it had happened to. So, it was sort of like, “What do we do with this girl who has finished all the class work but still has hours to do for clinical?” Thankfully, I was able to work closely with the school to do an extended semester that was just for the clinical hours and did not require, you know, there was no course work to be done because I already did all the course work, so I continued to do my regular clinical hours and filling in all the online forms and all of that and going to clinicals a couple times a week to be able to fulfill my hours but that was something I definitely didn’t expect.

I also had to actually extend a semester as well besides that. I had first set out almost like a full-time track but then ended up peeling back a little bit, mostly just because of clinical hours and things like that were building up a bit and I had to just maintain balance. And again, I was able to work with one of the advisory members and she was able to help me out with how I could set up my schedule where I took one course and then also did the clinical hours at that time.

So, there were challenges, but there are people to reach out to which was really nice. It made you feel like you weren’t alone just trying to get through school. When you’re in an online program, you don’t necessarily have the availability to walk down the hallway and go to an office for help but it’s almost the same thing. Regis has somehow managed to set up this virtual support group where there was someone from the advisory council that I could reach out to, as if I was walking down the hall to someone’s office. There was a professor that I could reach out to and say, “Listen, I have to extend a semester. I’m only going to take one class this semester.” So I was really able to adapt and be able to overcome those challenges, based on the support that was available.

Otherwise, in terms of memories… I was telling Michele this before. I feel like this program is actually more interactive than my in-person BSN program and I always thought that would be funny. I remember going into online school and I was like, “I’m not going to meet anybody. I’m not going to have any friends. This is just going to be what it is. I’m just doing this to get through school.” And I think I actually have more Facebook friends now from this group than I do from my original in-person nursing program and the reason for that I think is that we had a lot of group projects. We had lots of Zoom meetings. We were very interactive. I would be on Zoom calls with people from Texas and Florida and all over.

So, I was able to create friendships through that and we were able to create study groups. We helped each other build out study guides. We even shared books. We were just mailing them around the country, so it was really cool. I didn’t expect to have that much interaction and actually build friendships during the program.

Another favorite memory was in our clinical seminar class. We would meet once a week and that was our main live class. We’d talk about our clinical experiences, what our challenges are, what was going well, and I remember our professor always noticed around exam time, we were very quiet and tired during that session. Then, I remember she asked and was like, “All right, this isn’t working. We need to be doing something during this session, that you guys are interactive.” She built out an entire Jeopardy game for us to study for the test. We were all raising our hand, all excited. I don’t think we ever were that pepped up during a clinical seminar course and it just became a routine then and she just adapted that process for us where it was close to an exam time, that session we would talk about clinical in the beginning but then the whole rest of the hour was all doing Jeopardy so that we could study for exam and I personally and I think a lot us got a much better grade on the test but when we started doing that and had fun when we were learning and to be able to use that time, it was really nice. I remember I was like, “I can’t believe she spent time building this out with all the content and all the questions for us.” So that was probably my favorite couple of memories.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

That’s wonderful. Thank you Heather and I will tell you incidentally we still use Jeopardy in our clinical seminars. So one of the things that we do here at Regis… We certainly listen to our students. We ask for feedback and it’s not always going to be positive feedback so, actually some of Heather’s preceptors, some of yours had made some recommendations for some updates for our program too and actually when we went through our revisions, we were able to put some of that in there too. So, we do really listen to the students. Jeopardy is still quite a quite a hoot. It’s a lot of fun for the clinical faculty as well as the students to do and it does kind of brighten it up too and gets them through that so we just did that last week. So, that’s awesome. So Heather, as we were talking about your clinical experiences… As you know, here at Regis College, and I can say most graduate colleges and graduate programs, you are required to find your own clinical sites. Part of the reason for that, quite honestly, is so that you can network with those in your area. Also too, because you are moving to a different level and more professional level of nursing too and so that’s where that helps for that.

So, could you talk to us a little bit about, if you can remember that far back, your clinical experience and maybe some dos and don’ts that you might have?

Heather Pomella:

Definitely, yeah. So I had two clinical sites. We had to do 600 hours in total. I did 500 in primary care and then I did a hundred specialty hours and I had two different preceptors for both of those. So, the way I found my first preceptor, I was working at a primary care office and the physician I was working with was married to another physician who worked and ran another practice. I had known that I was going to take any clinical site I could get but I really wanted… they had offered me to do clinical at my current primary care job but I already knew that population really well and I of course would have taken it but I really wanted to get to know a different office a little bit and get to know a little bit of a different population and so I had asked the provider that I was working with at that office if she could talk to her husband and see if he’d be willing or anyone in the office. I wanted it to be the nurse practitioner and I knew they had a big nurse practitioner group there, if they would be willing to take on a student.

And so, she did, and he agreed and had found a nurse practitioner. It was at Lexington Pediatrics where they had agreed to take me on. And I initially was with another preceptor who I actually have never even ended up meeting. There was a family issue so I couldn’t be with her and I got this email saying this woman has a family issue. We don’t know who we’re going to be able to place you with. So, I had a mini heart attack and then a few days later, the preceptor who I spent 500 hours with was just absolutely amazing and had said, “You know, I wasn’t going to take a student this semester and I just had one for a while but I’ll take her on because she was already set up to come here.” So, I was so, so grateful. I went and started working with her and then I never let her let go of me. It was only supposed to be a semester but as you know, it’s challenging to find other spots and I was definitely experiencing that and so I just tried to be as positive and as helpful as possible at that office so that not only was I… you know, they are helping me but I was actually helping them.

At first, of course, the first semester I was just really getting my feet wet and learning but then eventually I became helpful to them and that’s why they wanted to keep me on. So, I think a “do” would be to take it seriously. Act like it’s a job. You’re there for clinical, for learning, but do the best you can, offer to see different cases etc. Just be as helpful as possible. Be comfortable writing your own notes and having your preceptor look them over but just try to do as much as you can because I think that actually is what helped me be able to stay there and continue to get precepted there. I then was really wanting to do a specialty rotation because I knew I wanted to go into neurology.

At the time, I was working in complex care and had a lot of patients with neurological conditions and so I really was very interested in that. How I got that one, was again through networking. I had met a physician at my job where I was working at the time when I was getting precepted. And I had told them how interested I was in neurology, and he was like, “You know what? I have an email connection with a couple of neurology nurse practitioners. Why don’t I send them an email for you. Do you want to just send me over your resume?” So, I buffed up my resume, and made it as best as I could, and I sent it to him. He emailed it out to a group of neurology nurse practitioners and said, “She is super dedicated, and very interested in neurology. Is anyone able to take her on for 100 hours?” It was spring or summer. I can’t remember exactly and thankfully within a couple of days, someone responded and was like, “Yes, I can take her but it’s in Peabody.”, which was almost 2 hours from me. But I said I’ll be there.

So, I drove a lot. I think a lot of us did. We were taking clinicals really anywhere that we could. My other clinical was not that far so it wasn’t like the whole year was a lot of driving but again, I was really dedicated, and it was an awesome experience and I think we’ll talk about this later, but it led me to my job now. So, I feel like if I didn’t take that one that was 2 hours away each way, that I probably wouldn’t be where I am now.

So for “dos” I think, network, network, network. Don’t be shy. If you have an email of someone, just email them. Attach your resume. Market yourself. Really, just be confident. And then also, I kind want to say take what you can get if there’s something that comes your way. Maybe it’s a little far. You never know what’s going to come out of it. I definitely didn’t think I would get a job out of that one but I knew that that was a great opportunity and then “don’ts”- Like I said, don’t shy away from anything. Don’t think that you’re not qualified for it. Try it, just continue to be positive and when you’re at clinical, act like it’s a job because it could give you a job after.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

That’s great, thank you Heather. You know, that’s such great information that you’re sharing wiith everybody. We will say that as faculty but it sounds so great coming from you so, thank you so much, and that’s probably some of the advice that I give to students too is don’t sell yourself short. You really have the knowledge, you are at that level and you need to convince them that you are an asset to their environment too. That’s a big part of it there too so thank you so much.

All right, so you’ve graduated. Now, tell us what happens next then. Talk to us a little bit about the certification exam, how you studied, and anything else you’d like to talk about in that respect.

Heather Pomella:

For sure. So after I graduated, it was such a relief but yes, you finally are done, but then you’re not done just yet because you have to study for the exam. So what I did to study for the exam… mentioned I was still working full-time during all of this so in the setting when I’m finally able to study, I’m still working full-time and at that point I’d been working at Boston Children’s. I had already been there too before I was a nurse practitioner. So, I was doing a lot of driving. The way I studied for the exam was that I actually ordered the Barkley review CDs off of eBay for a year prior, (or maybe it was like six months prior) they had a review course and they record all of the lectures and the CDs also came with the book from as if you went to the course. So, I bought that and I listened to those CDs non-stop while I was in the car just on constant replay and the CDs are actually all divided up by systems so there is like, cardiovascular, there’s respiratory, there are developmental milestones etc. They are all separated out and so I would just focus on one of them, you know, for a couple days and just really listening to it, go to the next one, really listen to it. There was also practice questions in the book that you could pair with that one that you were listening to and I listened to those non-stop and did all the practice questions in that book.

Also, I think it’s called the Flagg Book, the pediatric certification review course. That had tons of practice questions so I did all of those as well and then I personally really learned from doing the practice questions but reading the rationales. I feel like with reading that little paragraph, you’re able to actually understand it a little more deeply rather than just you know answering the question ABC and kind of memorizing the answer. So actually reading through the rationales, I feel like that’s what was able to really help me when I did the exam but also just listening to those CDs. I can’t remember the woman’s name but she was really good. There were certain things she would do. She would yell out, “Pink Pig! Pink Pig!”, when it was a really good theme or when you needed to remember for the exam and so when I sat for the exam, I was hearing that in my head. It was really helpful because I would read the question and I’d know that it was on the CD or I knew I did a practice question on this and it was just kind of coming to me.

As for the exam itself, Regis prepares you. There weren’t any surprises, honestly. It was all the content that we did in 664 and 665. It was all there. That’s exactly what it was. It was just a matter of being comfortable. You’re sitting in the certification place, taking a standardized exam, just kind of trying to calm your anxiety, making sure you’ve slept well the night before etc. I think I tried to eat a healthy breakfast (like a banana, yogurt and stuff) and I made sure that I didn’t go there on an empty stomach. But yeah, I think really listening to those CDs and doing those practice questions was really helpful to me. Of course, there’s multiple different ways to study, so I think it really depends on what your style of learning is and what your ability is. If you are trying to balance… I have a kid now but I did not have a kid when I was in school and I know plenty of the girls that I’ve worked with had a couple of children and they were trying to study, so you really have to find what works for you. For me, I knew that I had a lot of study time when I was sitting in traffic so listening to those CDs on repeat was really helpful for me.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

Great. Thank you so much, Heather. That’s such important information to hear too and one of those books that you mentioned the Silbert-Flagg book, which is a review book, it’s actually a required reading for our students so they actually get very comfortable using it in 664 and 665. The rationales, like you said, reading that. We’ve actually set up our exams very similarly to the certification exam, so it’s more practice for you that way too.

Heather Pomella:

I think that’s why I felt comfortable with it. It really wasn’t… I didn’t feel surprised when I was taking the test. I remember the RN exam, it’s been a while now, but at least what was also helpful about this is the PNP exam, it’s in your specialty, whereas when you did the RN exam, however long before you sit for this one, you had all different questions, from all different age groups, all different types of diseases, and this one is very specialized to what you’ve been studying for. It’s all about pediatrics and it’s all pediatric-focused questions. So, that’s what you’ve been doing for the last couple of years as you’re in the program, so it really was nice and I did not feel surprised or taken aback. Of course, there were parts that were challenging but it kind of went up and down like this. You’d get some higher-level questions, and then you get a little bit of a break, and it would kind of go like that but yeah, I felt very well prepared for it.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

Great, and that is something that we do at Regis. If you remember, Heather, we talked about that in the clinical seminars, right? One of the weeks, we actually go over what the PNCB exam is, how to find the test blueprint for it, how they decide how to make that exam through the job test analysis and different information like that. So, students do get this information through their education with Regis College. We actually now offer study guides throughout each of the weeks. Each week, we have a study outline for our students in the PNP program and we recommend the students to work together, like Heather was saying, work together as groups and have everybody fill that out based on the readings too and then at the end of it, they have this huge packet of study guides ready to go. As Heather’s mentioned, everybody’s a little bit different how they learn. So, some are auditory learners. Heather sounds very much that she is that way and that worked well for her, especially since she had such a long commute, whereas others may be more visual then too. So, everybody needs to find that and then work on that. Studying really begins not when you finish but really when you begin the program to get those excellent study habits and get through it that way too.

So, wonderful. I think that pretty much covers our study guides and that information, so Heather, now let’s talk about employment because that is the reason for becoming an advanced practice nurse and you’ve decided that you would like to become a PNP and obviously you would like to use that degree and your licensure, so talk to us about that.

Heather Pomella:

Yeah, so I set out to be a primary care nurse practitioner and that is what I thought I was going to do, primary care, and that had been my plan, but then as I was in my role, I was working at Boston Children’s in the adolescent clinic and it was primary care primarily but it I was working as the complex care nurse coordinator in that role and that is where I became absolutely obsessed with neurology and all of the neurological conditions. As I mentioned before, I set out to get a specialty clinical in neurology and so when I was doing those hours, that was my last clinical so I was already starting to look at what jobs are maybe available. I was doing my last 100 hours and I was starting to think, “I’m going to graduate soon. What am I going to do and where am I going?” I didn’t have anything set up at the time and so I started looking at the Children’s website that had all the jobs listed. I knew I was not going to leave Children’s and I still plan on probably being there forever. I wanted to find a nurse practitioner role there. There was not one in the clinic where I was working. It was already… they had three awesome nurse practitioners there that had already filled those roles and so I knew that I could continue working there but it would still be in my RN and I really wanted to start working as an NP as soon as possible.

I was looking on the website and I saw a job listed for an inpatient nurse practitioner in neurology and epilepsy and I was like, “Oh, I’m not qualified for that. I’ve never done acute care, I’ve never done inpatient. I’m getting my certification in primary care and that’s what all my background is.” My preceptor in neurology who was with me at the time said, “You are going to apply to this job. You want it, right?” I said, “Well, yeah that sounds awesome! It’s what we’ve been doing. My clinical was all outpatient, so we had been seeing all neurology patients but I hadn’t done inpatient hours and she said, “You know, this is awesome for you. I think you can do it. You’ve been working with me for the last almost 100 hours. You’re doing really great with your neurological assessment, you feel really comfortable with these patients, you’re excited to learn different things each day etc. Just go ahead and apply.”

And so, I sent the application and I put in a cover letter talking about how much I was interested in neurology and how I really wanted to be given an opportunity. I also acknowledged that my background definitely wasn’t what it said on the job listing. It said, “Must have 4-6 years of experience in inpatient. Must be a PNP for two or three years”, all these different things that I made me feel like I didn’t really necessarily fit into any of those but maybe they’ll give me a shot. Thankfully, my preceptor had also put in a good word for me and I was able to secure an interview and that’s where I had to sell myself because I knew that these NPs that were on that floor that have been doing this for a long time in inpatient were going to look at someone who’s coming from the primary care outpatient world to be a little skeptical if she could handle the inpatient world.

Also being a new nurse practitioner, I had to just be sure that I was confident but also showing them that I’m confident in a way of also knowing that I’m new and that I’m not going to say, “I feel great. I can go and take care of all these kids myself.” I am okay with saying, “Listen, I want to learn this job. I’m going to need you guys to help me but I’m going to give it 150%. I just need the opportunity to get get in the door and then if you guys can work with me, and they built out a whole orientation for me and they did end up deciding to go with me and they were able to take on a new nurse practitioner and some of the NPs that I work with now… We just recently hired someone else and the NP that I work with – she at the time had been there already 16 years when they were interviewing me and now it’s a couple years later.

She said now she’s no longer afraid of new NPs. She was so nervous when a new NP came along. It changed her whole perspective of not wanting to bring someone new in. It’s going to take so much time and effort and she’s like, “You just came in and you were ready to go. You are excited to be here and it didn’t matter that you didn’t have the experience. You are trainable, you’re willing to learn.” They really liked that I asked a ton of questions. I wasn’t shy to say, “I am not comfortable with this. I’ve never done this before.” Now, some of those things where I said that before, I’ve done it hundreds of times. I just needed those first couple of times. First, they would show me how to do it a couple times, then I would do it with them next to me and then I would do that with them like a little bit over here and then eventually they’re out the door and now eventually, I’m doing this all by myself.

Yeah, so the job search really was just again about networking and not being shy. If there’s something that’s posted that kind of intrigues you, I think if it excites you and scares you at the same time, you should probably try it. So that’s exactly how I felt with this role. I was absolutely terrified but wanted this so bad and it’s so awesome to be sitting here two years later after that and how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve thankfully excelled in this role. Now they’re willing to take on new other NPs because I was able to show them that new NPs can still do it.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

That’s great, Heather. Thank you so much for sharing that information. You know, some of the things that you stated are so important for everyone to remember. Selling yourself as we’ve talked about over and over again, knowing when you don’t know the answers and knowing when you do need to ask questions. Also with Regis College, even though your degree and your certification is in primary care, that’s giving you a great foundation and then you can jump off from there. Whatever you decide that you want to do then too.

So, that’s our role. It’s to give everybody that foundation and then just keep going. With Heather –  actually you’re very modest too – but she is actually precepted a couple of our Regis students also because of number one, her willingness to do this for us and the value that it actually brings to the table also. We have 500 hours that have to absolutely be in primary care. That’s because of PNCB. That’s the board that says that in order for you to be eligible to sit for certification, you need at least 500 hours in primary care. With Regis College, we have actually built in 600 hours so with that hundred hours, we have that little bit of wiggle room and that’s where the specialty hours come in. And of course, the students are just so thrilled with the experience they’re getting and are learning so much in that 100 hours they get.

We expect our students to have a wide range of ideas as to what they would like to do, but we actually do that as professors also, so that we can make sure that they’re following the rules but getting the best experience for each individual too.

Heather Pomella:

I would just like to add to that. Even though I switched into not doing a primary care role, I still very much do all primary care every day in this role. Being a nurse practitioner when you’re on an inpatient unit, especially in neurology and epilepsy, you’re working with physicians that are neurologists or epileptologists and they’re specialized in that. When you’re in pediatrics, you often will get a kid that comes in for their epilepsy condition or something else, but it also comes along with the cold, an ear infection, they were giving out COVID vaccines now when they’re admitted etc. There’s all different primary care parts of the job that we are doing all the time. With seizures can come lots of respiratory issues, so we actively manage that and it’s all the stuff that I learned in primary care. I just had molded it into this role.

So in this role, all the primary care schooling that I did had prepared me for what I’m doing now and actually helps us be much more beneficial on the floor because if there is a primary care issue, automatically we’re the ones that get called in and were able to manage it so we actually take care of the kids holistically and the families really appreciate that, rather than saying, “Just talk to the pediatrician after the appointment.” We’re like, “We can take care of this on the spot right now.” I will still need your pediatrician to follow up after but we can start you on an antibiotic for an ear infection. Just make sure they get a follow up after and helping with that care coordination piece.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

That’s wonderful and Heather, we look at also that being part of the marketability of getting this degree, getting the certification in primary care with that saying, “Hey, I can go a step above but I still have that great foundation where I can help,” whereas maybe some of those specialists that have really specialized maybe aren’t able to see that far into that too. So that’s wonderful, thank you.

So Heather, would you say that over all your MSN actually was a good investment for you?

Heather Pomella:

Oh, definitely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s brought me to where I am today and I wouldn’t have these different roles or experiences without my MSN, so I definitely think it was worth it. I wouldn’t say I’d do it a hundred times over again, but I’m definitely glad I did it and I’m glad that I did it at the time that I did and that I was able to do it through Regis and through the online program, so I was still able to do a lot of other things and still be able to, as I mentioned before, be able to work and take care of everything else that I needed to do. So, I definitely think it was worth it.

Dr. Michele Pedulla:

Thank you. So, as we look at talking to new students, from my perspective as a program director and assistant dean, some of the things that I like to share with you all is, as Heather has said and it resonates, time management is so important. You definitely have to be very cognizant of your time management and your support. You need to make sure that you have excellent support with family and with your work. If you’re getting stressed at work, it’s very difficult for you to concentrate on everything that you need to learn. Make sure that you allocate a lot of time for those last two semesters. Those last two semesters where you’re learning everything about pediatrics, you have to dedicate that time. You have to allow that information to sink in and then apply it and then allow it to sink in again and apply it and it’s so very, very important in that respect.

You’re putting the investment into this education, so make sure that you’re using all the time and all of your resources available to get the very best out of this and we’re here for you, every step of the way.

Alicia Singh:

Heather and Michele, thank you so much for the great responses and the questions. I know that I’ve learned a lot about the Pediatric NP program, and what to expect, and I know our potential students are going to agree as well.

So, we did have a few questions that came through and so the first question I have is: What would you do if a parent complained about the health care a child was receiving in your health care facility?

Heather Pomella:

Absolutely. So, I would first just take the time to listen and let them express themselves and not really say much at first. I would just let them kind of get out what they needed to get out and then I would validate their concerns. Then, depending on where I was… So in the setting where I work, we actually have a department that is able to help us with that called our Patient Relations Department where they partner with us and with families to be able to talk through difficult situations or are able to talk with the families and allow them to express themselves about what was it that they were upset about.

Maybe it was that there was lack of communication. What were the barriers and what caused them to be upset? Then at times, we may have a meeting with the family to talk about how things can be better next time or share advice that they have. If it was a specific person or a specific thing that had happened, just allowing them to talk it through and really trying to not take anything personally and just think that by talking it through and allowing them to express themselves, you’re only going to help the next patient because sometimes things are going to happen and families might get upset, but all you can do is learn from it and really just validate them. Apologize respectfully and then depending on if it escalates in any way, always bringing in leadership or depending if it’s a nurse director, you can kind of go up the chain, if needed, if it’s not something that you were able to address yourself. If you ever felt uncomfortable, always letting the next person know who maybe would be better to take care of that situation. Letting them talk it out and just being open with them and apologizing.

Alicia Singh:

Great, so it sounds like there’s support within your employment for situations like that as well.

Heather Pomella:

We have very strong support, so I’m very grateful for that. I know not every area is going to be as resourceful, so I definitely had other jobs where we don’t have that intense level of support, but we were able to build on what you have available. So, even if you’re in a small practice and the higher up is a physician or someone at a higher level, whether it’s the office manager or someone if it does get to that level. Even if it doesn’t, still giving the families the opportunity to reach out to that person, if needed, or if they were upset. That way, they can express themselves and then I always recommend to meeting as a group after to then talk about different ways that you can do better and just take it as a learning opportunity.

Alicia Singh:

That’s great. Heather, how would you say that you keep up-to-date with current medical procedures?

Heather Pomella:

Yeah, so using what’s in that question – up-to-date… the website. I use that all the time. That’s definitely something that’s at our fingertips at work and we’re always accessing it to look for dosages or different studies that have come out, different recommendations etc. We also use a website called Lexicomp. We use that a lot for dosing and patient education and all new recommendations and evidence-based practice. Also, attending different conferences where you also get CEUs that are going to go towards your NP certification but that’s also where I learned a lot of new things because that’s where they’re usually going to express them first and that’s where they’re going to show you all new projects that are coming out or new medications, new ways to do things or ways to not do things anymore. Everything is constantly changing as we learned so much about new evidence that’s coming out. And so yeah, attending conferences as much as you can. That’s actually a good thing to ask for when you are applying to jobs.

A lot of jobs will give you conference days or a conference reimbursement or at least education days. So, you could see if that’s something that they offer to you because you will need to do certain CEUs to be able to keep up with your certification and your jobs often will work with you to be able to give you some of that time, so that if you have to miss a workday for a conference, it was excused.

Alicia Singh:

Sounds great and with nursing, we all know that it’s always changing. There are always new things to learn, so it’s definitely good to keep up-to-date with as much as you can and it sounds like there’s some great avenues for that. So it’s great to hear and thank you for that.

Next question: How do you gain respect and trust working with physicians and other members of the health care team?

Heather Pomella:

Great question. So, I had to do that from the very beginning when I first got my job and I also worked in an academic medical institute so we had a lot of rotating people coming in and out. So, you’re constantly working with new people and always kind of having to show your skill set or different things like that. The way I feel like I was able to build trust with the people I worked with, is again, by when I was new, asking lots of questions, showing my sincere interest, always asking if there was ever something unique or something weird on the floor in case that I hadn’t seen before, I would ask if I could tag along etc. That way if something did happen again, I would remember last time I saw this and I would know how to do it. So, really just lots of questions, making them know that I was really interested in learning and that I wanted to know as much as I could, and then eventually once I became more comfortable, it was speaking up in big groups a lot and we have very difficult cases and not being shy to say, “Hey, I think this.”

The response eventually started to become, “Oh, that’s a great idea!” At first, I was just learning, but I was building off of all the cases that I had seen and so now I’m at a point where I’m able to make my own suggestions. I’m going to become part of the team and it showed that I’m confident in what I’m doing and it’s had the physicians trust me a lot more because they know that I have experience now. All the time I was asking so many questions so now I’ve learned so much and I also attended a lot of lectures. I would listen in on them when they were reviewing a lot of MRI images, listening in on them when they were viewing certain cases etc. So, I was able to take all that knowledge and then build upon it and so now you hear me speak in confidence and casually about all of this now because I know it very well.

Alicia Singh:

Thank you for that.

Heather Pomella:

Also, the last thing I wanted to add too: Trusting (I think I’ve mentioned this to you before) what you don’t know and being comfortable with allowing them to trust me because they know that I’m going to let them know if something’s too much. If there is something I’m really not comfortable with, I’m fine with asking if someone minds coming with me because that shows that they trust you because if it’s something I am comfortable with, I’m not going to bother you to come with me but if it’s something that I’m not sure about, to be able to gain that trust, you have to be honest about your abilities.

Alicia Singh:

That’s great. Thank you, Heather and Michele, again so much for taking the time to speak with us today. A copy of the recording will be available for everybody to review as well.

Thanks everyone.