Experienced nurses with a passion for learning and sharing their knowledge with others can help the health care industry and discover new career opportunities by becoming a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) nurse educator. Just ask Regis DNP Nurse Education graduate and now adjunct faculty member within the online graduate nursing programs at Regis, Dr. Jamie Papesca, DNP, MSN, CRNA, APRN.
Watch the video to get to know Alicia, a senior enrollment advisor for the online DNP programs at Regis and to learn about Dr. Papesca’s journey toward becoming a nurse educator and the online MSN to DNP in Nurse Education program at Regis.
The online MSN to DNP in Nurse Education program is designed to provide the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed today to support desired learning outcomes, provide critical feedback and effectively educate the ‘nurse of the future’. Students enrolled in the online MSN to DNP Nurse Education program can benefit from:
- Choose from three start times per year and complete your coursework 100% online
- Flexible entry paths: Four entry points designed for master’s-prepared RNs and NPs
- Complete in as few as 24-36 months (Bridge program students may take up to 44 months to complete)
- Qualify to sit for board certification exams
- Transfer maximum credit hours
Watch the video below to learn more.
Hi everyone. Thank you for joining us. I would like to welcome you to our fireside chat where you’ll learn insider details about the online MSN to DNP program and its outcomes. Today myself, my name is Alicia Singh. I’m one of the graduate admissions advisors at Regis College and I do support a lot of our DNP programs, specifically the Nurse Education program, and my role is to work with students to ensure the program is a good fit for them and answer their questions, but also helping through the application process and work with them all the way up until the beginning of classes. In our discussion today, we have Jamie Papesca joining us. He is an adjunct faculty member at Regis College. He is also a recent graduate of the MSN to DNP Nurse Education program and Jamie, I would like for you to introduce yourself and tell everybody a little bit about yourself as well.
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Sure, Alicia. Thank you for this opportunity. I’m going on to my 25th year of nursing now so, you know, it’s never too late to go into school and you can teach an old dog new tricks. I’ll definitely say that. I graduated from a bachelor’s program like I said many, many years ago on the East Coast and I went right into critical care nursing in Texas. It’s where I’m located now so, I took advantage of this online opportunity that Regis had. I was in critical care for probably about 10 ish or so years in a survey trauma ICU so I didn’t have any type of educational elements thrown at me.
I took advantage of what nursing had to offer and so I went into some organ transplant and in the prime of my youth I would say, I got to travel around the country and talk to patients, recover organs, and at that time, I felt like I was about to settle down and kind of grew up a little bit and so I went back to school and I got my degree in Nurse Anesthesia. I specialized ironically in women’s health, which was really kind of outside of my area of specialty and practice. I got involved in every type of GYN procedure and OB procedure and eventually, I married a Texan and so you end up back in Texas. We were kind of all over the place. Once I kind of hit Texas, it was probably the first time in my career that I was not involved with students. When I was in ICU working, I always had some nursing student or a new orientee.
When I graduated from the anesthesia program and I was working in OB anesthesia, I had a lot of students that would come through and rotate and I took a clinical coordinator position for one of the anesthesia programs. When I relocated back to Texas, it really was my first opportunity not having a student and I missed it. And I wanted to kind of look for something and I actually found – I went old school. I looked for a newspaper ad and I found an online opportunity at a local university. And I kind of got involved with that and here I am many years later. Obviously, I have my doctorate now, thank you, from Regis. I’m a full-time faculty member and I still do anesthesia on the side to keep my skills up. I had a lot invested in that. I think being clinically active just makes you a good teacher. So yeah, that’s kind of my story and how I got to where I am today.
So you definitely still kept up to date with all of your clinical practice but still ventured into education, kind of doing the best of both worlds now.
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
That’s great to hear. Can you talk about what your educational experience at Regis College was like?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Absolutely. This was going to be my first experience in an online program so, I wasn’t quite sure what I was really looking for. I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to have to travel anywhere because clearly, I’m far away from the Regis campus. And I was looking specifically for courses in nursing education and Regis had a specific doctoral track in Nursing Education, which I knew I needed because I didn’t have that foundation in my master’s preparation. Once we kind of got involved in the program, once again, I was like every other student and I really didn’t know what to expect.
Research was not my forte. I was afraid of it. I avoided it at all costs and the first class you take is your Evidence-Based Research course. And it’s really interesting the way Regis has everything programmed and laid out.
When you start your course, you’re literally starting your doctoral-based project which ends up being your dissertation. And to help you with that, you have a very small class size, and you have your advisor. Regis pairs you up in a peer partner kind of system and so it’s just randomly by choice you get assigned to and mine just was a great experience. My peer partner and I are now really good friends and we talk quite frequently. What I think is interesting about it – Her project was on a palliative care hospice type situation, mine was on an evidence-based practice in anesthesia dosing patterns, so we could not have been more polar opposites.
Students always ask or something that I was concerned about as well was the volume of work and it’s intensive. I mean, it’s a doctoral program, so you’re going to expect some work. What was great about it is there’s a very predictable pattern and we are all extremely motivated nurses. That’s why we’re looking into these programs. The predictable pattern of the assignments – there was a lot of discussion forums because there’s a lot of interactions. You’re going to learn from your peers and from your faculty member who is engaging in those conversations. An assignment was always due on a Wednesday night and then a Saturday night. It was very predictable, and I had the opportunity that if I knew if I was going to be out of town, or if my work schedule was going to interfere with something, then, I could work ahead if I needed to kind of get something done. It was just nice to have and it was a semblance of control when I really didn’t have control, because I really didn’t know.
And it was interesting, when you start off – because like I said, you go right into your doctoral project and start developing your… what your project wants to be or the idea of your project, you really don’t know. When I wrote my application, when I wanted to get in the program, I wrote about one topic and I ended up doing a 180, down the street, turn around again, and around the block and came back. It was all over the place. It was really interesting to kind of see that morphe and the conversations that I would have with my faculty member (who ended up being my advisor), I really feel like he got to know where my strengths and weaknesses were and from our conversations, where my passion was. I really didn’t even know that I liked some of these things until he brought it to my attention because I would inadvertently kind of keep referencing in talking about it. So through that, he helped me develop my project and I had my project idea and design pretty much squared away right at the end of the first semester. Like I said, the way Regis has it all mapped out as you work through your evidence-based practice, which is your dissertation every semester, so you’re working on it when you’re really not paying attention to it. First semester, your kind of getting your research idea, your question, what would be the impact you want to make etc. The second course, you’re doing all of your literature search and your review of literature and kind of laying the framework.
Working on your IRB application, so you can start doing your research project and once you get that done and squared away and approved, then you’re able to move on and start doing your research kind of at your own pace, which is really nice because you are taking other courses when you’re doing all of this. And so, I was very fortunate that since I was just doing a quantitative study where I was just gathering data, I was able to do that relatively quickly. So, I was able to kind of progress a little bit faster and then I could pause for a little bit when I have some major assignments due, and then I would pick up and resume and I was really in a great position. I finished my project and actual script for my dissertation probably about four months before the end of the program so I got to kind of kick back and relax for a little bit and I got a little bit more time to step into my poster project. Then I was able to work on my manuscript for a publication. It was just a really great experience through that, so I hope that kind of answers your question and maybe explains some of the fears that I had and didn’t understand about the dissertation project.
It definitely does and I know a lot of our potential students share the same fears and the concerns about balancing work and school and knowing that they have this ample time to work on their project, rather than having to stick to a sort of a strict schedule that, “Okay, I have to finish everything within these specific courses”. They have the opportunity to kind of space that out. You know, the experience overall. I think that’s what students want to hear about. It’s just kind of how they can be successful because it’s a doctorate program, like you said. It’s going to have a lot of research, a lot of writing and that tends to scare a lot of students. So, knowing that they can be able to balance that and still be successful, I think it’s great to hear that, so thank you for sharing that.
I did want to ask about after graduation and what students can expect to come next.
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Well, I think that’s always a personal thing. I had a big party after graduation. You are happy to get some of your time back. I was dedicating a lot of my time in my evenings to working on this because I worked full-time and I still had family obligations. So yeah, I celebrated and then I went out to pursue my dreams. I was very fortunate to have had an opportunity already lined up for a teaching opportunity for a faculty position, so I was able to move into that. The opportunity arose to strike up some conversations with Regis faculty and that’s how I became an adjunct with Regis.
One of the great things that the university does or that the college does is that they have social mixers for the distance students. I was able to travel and I didn’t have to go too far because there were a lot of people from Texas in my program. So I was able to meet some of the faculty and administration flew out to meet us, which I thought was a great thing which they did not have to do. They really made me feel like I wasn’t just a name on a screen. I knew their names and they knew me, and so I was able to strike up those conversations and I interviewed with them, and I must have interviewed well because now I do some adjunct faculty work in the MSN program. I teach within my specialty, which I really think is a great technique that Regis uses. I think that most online programs do but I think it’s great for Regis. That’s where I have my experience. I teach a pathophysiology course, pharmacology courses and research courses because those were areas that I would consider them more of my area of expertise and Regis recognizes that and so they put me in those areas to kind of help students and moderate those courses.
A lot of people in my program had positions or kind of already had something lined up to work with. Others just kind of hit the pavement and found jobs. Everybody in my class, like I said, it was a small class and there were about sixteen that were in the Education track. All of us have some form or fashion of a faculty position that we were happy about.
For the Nurse Education certification, is it something that you would say is required or it’s more sort of a personal preference?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
It’s definitely personal preference and when you look at jobs, either online faculty positions or in-person faculty positions, you will always see the CNE on the job description as it being preferred. I really think it demonstrates mastery of that content and I think people in the industry, definitely within academia, recognize how challenging the exam is and what your baseline knowledge has to be and so I think if you were to compare two candidates, I would think and I’ve seen it, the candidate with a CNE certification would have a better a preference for the position because it’s just like for people who want a nurse practitioner license, you don’t want to have a certified nurse practitioner, not someone who just graduated from the program. You want them to demonstrate their competency. So definitely, it’s a preference but I do see it moving in some way of fashion as maybe a requirement in the future. it’s a preference but I do see it moving in some way of fashion as maybe a requirement in the future.
Good to know. Can you speak to when you were in the program, what kind of support and study guides did you receive from Regis and faculty?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
They have weekly office hours and sometimes two to three times a week and if I could make it, I was in there. Getting to see your faculty member, getting to know them, and really kind of getting help on that one-on-one basis was insanely helpful. Some of this content, we struggle with. It’s like reading a foreign language at first and they’re really helping you kind of understand that, so definitely the office hours and the availability of the instructors was by far one of my best experiences with a university.
Smart Thinking is a tool that Regis has a built into their learning management system. You can submit the rubric for your assignment, the directions for your assignment, and your written work. You submit it into Smart Thinking and it is reviewed by staff and they look over the assignment to make sure that you are meeting all the objectives. They look over the rubric to make sure you’re meeting the requirements for an optimal grade. They’re checking your grammar for you and so that’s great. It was usually within about 24 to 48 hours where they would send your file back to you with all of their recommendations and critiques on it so that you were able to kind of learn from the process.
And then learning APA was probably the second biggest challenge that I had but once again, the Regis librarian was awesome in that you could send your work to her or him. I think mine was a her but I don’t want to be selective. You can send your work to them and they would look over your APA for you and they wouldn’t correct it for you. They tell you what you did wrong so they took the teacher style to it. They would just say, “Hey this is wrong. Go look on page so-and-so of the APA manual.” Then you can figure out how to do it. So, that was a great support as well. It probably took me… I wasn’t a fast learner on it but it just took me a couple months, maybe about three or four months, to get a APA locked down. And then once I had a good paper, I just always kept coming back to that one, to reference it and make sure that I was doing it right.
Then, your peer partner that you have kind of sticks with you because you take all the courses in the same track. So, you’re doing your research courses together, then you take your education courses. We have an Informatics course. I’m trying to remember my degree plan off the top of my head (it’s been a while) but you’re taking those courses with the same people and so you may not be in the same section, but you’re doing the same content. So, it was really easy. If I didn’t understand an assignment and it was outside of my office hours for my faculty member, I could just call my peer partner who was usually who I would bounce it off or I’d call somebody else and we’d kind of talk about it over the phone and figure it out together.
Well, it’s great to hear that you had that kind of support and I know that for a lot of students it’s a learning curve, especially when it comes to paper writing. Often times there are a lot of nurses who are very clinical and very practical so there’s not too many papers that they do end up writing within their undergrad and their master’s program. And you found all of the support very helpful and do you apply any of that now within any of your coursework?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Once again, I do some online work now and I still do some face-to-face education but really, before I started the online program, I was teaching a little bit online. I don’t know if I appreciate it as much until I went through an online program. And now, I definitely have my office hours scattered around a little bit more to kind of make it available for the students. I record some of my conversations now and so when we have a start to a weekly session, I know how helpful it was when I was able to meet with my faculty, so I’ll record those sessions and explain what the content is that were having for the week.
We’ll go over the weekly objectives so the student knows what I’m expecting from somebody and it’s really helpful. Regis kind of has the same format. I thought it was really interesting. I just recorded one for a pathophysiology course. I took a week and described it so what I’ve learned from Regis, I’m even putting into my own academic practice to make myself available to the students and to show the support that we have for them and to really close that misnomer about being an online program, that you’re not going to be successful and that you’re just going to be this number or name, and just a paper that I read.
That’s great to hear. What would you say would be some qualities or skills that a clinical nurse educator should possess to be effective or successful?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Definitely, you need to have patience. Just because it’s always going to be challenging content. There are a lot of avenues in academia that I didn’t know existed because I had always been in an adjunct faculty position but now that I kind of see some of the rest of the world, there are a lot of accreditation processes that have to be done. Curriculum development, course objectives, and exam writing etc. I would definitely say patience. And then definitely familiarity and being comfortable with the content that you’re going to be teaching. And I think with that you also have to be very humble and understand that you are not going to know everything.
Those are good things to hear. So let’s talk technology. What was it like learning through the online program at Regis?
Dr. James Papesca:
It was really easy. I had already had some familiarity with online learning management systems – they call them “LMS”, for those who are going into education. You all understand it. Really, you just had to have a computer and it was so simple. You would just log in. You can see your coursework. You had sixteen-week courses or eight-week courses and it was kind of always matched in pairs, so you always had eight weeks where you weren’t doing two courses. So it was really nice and it was just kind of the luck of the draw to have something kind of panned out. I thought it was really nice to have the eight-week course in the beginning because then you actually have a break at the end but I had it both ways and it was kind of tomato, tomahto.
I mentioned it earlier, for the discussion forums and the assignments, they were in a very predictable pattern. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you would just go in. What I thought was really awesome about the program – I didn’t like it at first, but then I learned to like it – was when you do your discussions, you couldn’t see what your peers were posting before you put your post in. So, you couldn’t see what somebody else wrote first and then kind of get a little hint and be like, “Oh, that’s it.” But that’s it, so you really kind of had to do your reading and know what you were talking about. You’re kind of putting yourself out there, so I thought that was kind of interesting. And then your assignments that you would submit in, it was basically about putting it in a Word document or PDF file and it was literally just like a drag and drop into the assignment and it was done. I mean, it couldn’t have been any easier. There was some PowerPoint presentation that we had to do with an audio voice over. If you didn’t know how to do it, Regis had that covered and they had a video in there to show you how to do it. If you had a Mac computer, then they had the Mac version. If you had a Windows computer, they did a Windows version. I feel like they thought of everything to make it real simple for us.
Good to hear, so were there any types of supporting program or resources, like tech support, that you had access to as well? There is. Regis has a 24/7 tech support that if you have a problem, you just click for it. I think it’s right on the homepage of your LMS (the management system) and you just click on it. It has a little drop down box and there was an 800 number that you could call or there was a live chat option and I always picked the live chat option. It just seemed to be a little bit quicker.
They would pretty much help you through anything – if you couldn’t figure out how to upload something, a screen locked up on you etc. I really didn’t have any real big technical issues. Probably the biggest one was with my dissertation PowerPoint. I was having a hard time uploading it because I didn’t know how to condense the file. There was a video for me to watch but I still didn’t understand the video, so I had to call somebody and they walked me through it and then it just took a couple minutes. The support is there, you just have to access it. It’s all right there on your homepage. You just have to click a button and it’s there for them.
That’s great. I know that that’s something that a lot of students want to know about because they figure that they’re online and there’s nobody there to help them but there is support.
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Yeah, you are not alone in this. Trust me.
That’s great. Are there any resources or things that you’ve learned by being a student in the DNP program that you enforce within your curriculum when you’re teaching it the students?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Definitely items that I did not appreciate as a student. Things I enforce with much more rigor now – APA formatting. I know everybody still kind of moans and groans when they hear about it and think about it but the goal in everything and I do it when I speak with BSN students and even now, some of the MSN students that I teach online – your goal is to always want them to further their education. So definitely APA format is one thing that I got a lot of rigor in and really enforce.
Using more references – I really didn’t appreciate the wide variety. I really didn’t even understand peer review journals, qualitative studies, and quantitative studies. It was all a foreign language to me because I was a clinical-based nurse. I had no interest in research. I would read an article in a magazine and think, “Hey, that’s cool. Let me try that,” not understanding how to critically read and review those elements within the article. I bring a lot of that into my online courses and my in-person courses. I think it’s really important to read. One of the things you do learn in the doctoral program is that anybody can get something published. It’s whether it’s good or not is what’s important and I think it’s really interesting how when you’re in your research courses and you start doing article critiques, you’ll see good articles and bad articles so when you start to write your own, you know what to do and so I try to bring a lot of that into my own courses because I found it really interesting. I’m sure somebody else will find another element interesting and they’ll bring it into their course.
Thank you for that. I did want to ask with regards to overall about the DNP Nurse Education program. Do you feel that it was worth the investment?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
It absolutely was. Once again, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into and I would do it all over again and then some and I’m a huge advocate of Regis’ program, just because I had a great experience with it. Clearly, I had a great experience and now I work for them so, I feel like it’s a testament to the program.
Probably, one of the best things investment wise with Regis is the Nurse Faculty Loan Program and it is a government grant that subsidizes and recognizes the nursing educator/faculty shortage. Certain universities and colleges have access to the grant and they subsidize and reimburse 85% of your loan that you have to take for your educational cost, as long as you teach for about four years afterwards. So, you’re only having to pay… if you do the math, it’s 15% of your education.
I was probably about maybe four or five months into the program and my advisor reached out to me and said, “Why aren’t you doing this because you’re in the Education track?” From our conversations, he knew what I was already doing. I thought that was really admirable because Regis didn’t have to tell me about that at all. There was nothing in it for them to say that but they went out of their way to identify me in this crowd of students to say, “Hey, you’re in Education. You didn’t go for this loan reimbursement that you qualify for. Here you go.” So it was definitely worth my investment because I was only having to pay 15% of my tuition. That’s a huge win for anybody. That’s how I feel about the investment of this. It was a no-brainer.
You were saying that for the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, they have to work for four years after graduation. Does it have to be in a specific field or certain area in teaching?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
No. I’m so glad you brought that up because that was one of the things I was nervous about and Regis once again, I’ll toot their horn and tell people that this is a great opportunity for them because the way the grant or the loan repayment works… You have to work a full-time credit load, which in most universities are going to be 24 hours an academic year. So, twelve credits in the fall and twelve credits in the spring. Certain universities have the ability to say that it has to be a full-time program and you have to get all your credits from one university. Or, you have to be in a part-time position here or in a part-time position there. So some universities have some very strict rules and regulations. Regis… They care, but they don’t care. And that’s what was amazing, as they don’t care if you get three credits from teaching online here, you get four credits doing a clinical rotation here in-person and then might you fly out for the summer and you go somewhere else – as long as you get your twenty-four credits within the year, Regis is totally fine with it and they may consider that as satisfying for the requirements for your loan for that year.
In academia, it’s hard to find a full-time faculty position without potentially having to move somewhere. Jobs are definitely out there but are they necessarily where we live? No. And so, I think that flexibility with Regis is great. I’m so glad you brought that up Alicia because that was one of the deciding factors because I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to think I was getting this loan and then have them take it away from me but that’s their decision that their nursing program made for how they can repay that loan and so there’s so much flexibility.
Right, and you worked with somebody to ensure that all the fine details of the grant program were met on the application as well?
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Yes, there is a loan advisor. They walk you through the process every year that you’re in the program (for two years – I went through it two years), you fill the paperwork out and you have an entrance interview where they’ll work with you to fill out the paperwork. Then, when you submit it the next year, they’ll call you up and they’ll do it face-to-face because it’s like filling out a mortgage. I don’t know where all the numbers go and time frames etc. And then you’ll have an exit interview and when you finish that, then they contacted me once a year.
There’s a computer program now that runs all the software and the paperwork and every year I just have to gather the documents to prove that – I think there’s four forms that you have to fill out – once a year that just prove that I have a full-time employment because I’m meeting my 24 credits. I think you have to ask a forum that says, “Please Pay My Loan,” or something like that. There are some forms you have to just kind of sign and date but there’s only one form that you have to submit that shows, “Yes, I have met my credit hours,” and if you’re getting it from different universities or different institutions, you just have to have them sign a form just saying that, “Yeah, Jamie taught here these six credits.” It’s that simple and then you just download it or upload it into this file and then it forgives your loan for the year. And then, you do it all again the next year and like I said, after four years, 85% of your loan is paid back. And then that remaining 15%… which is not a lot… I won’t do the math for people and they can probably do their own – you have the option to just like any other normal loan, you can pay it up front or if you want to do it over ten years, five years, fifteen years, whatever the interest rate. You have the option to do that.
And I definitely agree. It’s a great opportunity or a great incentive for the nurse educators because we do know about the shortage and so it’s a great opportunity for them to take advantage of advancing themselves academically but getting the financial support as well.
Jamie, I’d like to thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing your story and your experiences in the DNP program and at Regis. There will be a copy of the recording available for everybody and if they have any questions, they’re welcome to reach out to the admissions office and speak with one of our graduate advisors. Thank you everyone.
Dr. Jamie Papesca:
Yeah, thank you.