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Kristy Fleming
MSN-FNP Student, Class of 2022

Tell us your name and the program that you're in, and when do you expect to graduate?

My name is Kristy Fleming. I am in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program, and I plan to graduate in August of 2022.

What's your favorite part about being a nurse?

I don't know that I have a single favorite part of being a nurse, I really love all of it. I do enjoy teaching my patients, I enjoy when I have patients for long-term relationships that you don't just see for a single, short event, that you get to form a relationship with and you can teach over time and watch their families grow.

Tell me about your educational background. When did you decide you wanted to be a family nurse practitioner?

I have been a nurse for 23 years. I graduated from Carson-Newman in 1997. And off and on throughout the years, I toyed with the idea of going back to school, but that never really... It was never the right time. And what really pushed me was about a year ago, I really felt God pulling me in this direction. And here I am, a year later, into my third semester of when I made that final decision to come.

What are your plans for the future? How do you plan on achieving those?

My plans for the future, after I graduate, I would like to really go into faith community nursing. I took a faith community course in January, along with my first semester of grad school, which I don't recommend, but the course was invaluable and it really gave me the background that I need, that I'll be able to use with my family nurse practitioner, 'cause my goal is to work in faith community nursing. I know I need to start small, I wanna start a program. But long-term ideas would be to have a clinic available to those that don't have medical care elsewhere. I would also like to do some theological training and look into ordainment as a deacon.

Let's talk a little bit about your Carson-Newman experience. What are your expectations from Carson-Newman?

Having done my BSN at Carson-Newman, I knew that I was gonna come out prepared and well-educated and ready to take state boards. And Carson-Newman was the first place that I loved when I decided to pursue my FNP. Because of my experience 23 years ago, I expect to come out fully prepared, I expect to be ready to take state boards. And I know that I will still have a lot to learn once I'm in practice, but having the background with Carson-Newman in the past, I know that I will be prepared.

Talk a little bit about how you balance work and life, and family and school.

It's definitely a challenge. The first semester was kind of a shock to the system, but I feel like that I have gotten into my groove. I think part of it was that it had been a really long time since I was a student. When I was a student, I wrote papers... Before I wrote papers on a word processor, and so now I'm looking at doing my course work on a computer, learning new computer systems. And so it was just a different type of learning that I started to experience. Balancing with my family, the one thing that has helped me tremendously is I have an incredibly supportive husband. My children are a little older, they do have some... One has some high needs, and we've been able to balance everything with school, with working, and with family. Well, it took some figuring it out, we're still not perfect, but we're getting there.

Have you been able to integrate the things that you're learning into the job you have now?

Absolutely. I recently started working at a home health agency. My prior experience with nursing has all been in NICU and nursery, and then I did a home visiting newborn program, and also some private duty newborn nursing, and so now all of a sudden I'm doing skilled home healthcare with pediatrics and adults. And I would say that, looking at pathophysiology and pharmacology that we did first, has helped me tremendously with recognizing medications that my patients are on. I'm currently in the health assessment course, and it has definitely been incredibly valuable as I go from assessing tiny babies to all of a sudden assessing adults. It's been incredibly helpful.

Tell me about your experience with the faculty here at Carson-Newman.

I feel like everyone has been great. Every instructor that I have had has been responsive very quickly, which has been incredibly nice. I feel like that I have gotten good feedback. And some of the instructors, they say such kind things that it's like you get your pat on the back and then you're like, "Okay, yeah, I can keep doing this, this is worth it." Which has been incredibly nice, and I feel like all the instructors are incredibly knowledgeable.

What do you think about the three-day residency program?

I think it's been great. I was really nervous about what to expect, but I think it's been really nice to come and be able to meet people that I've only seen their names. And so it's been nice to build the camaraderie with my fellow students but also just get the hands-on experience with the instructors, and it makes being an online program, everyone... It is different learning, you feel distanced, but having this three-day residency, I feel like, will change the feel of the rest of the program.

Have you done any clinical yet?

Not yet. I will start that, hopefully, in the next couple of weeks.

What benefits do you anticipate from coming to Carson-Newman and doing this program?

I think one of the benefits is what I already know from having been at Carson-Newman before, is that I know without a doubt that I'm gonna come out well-prepared. Hands down, I know that I will be equipped to practice as a family nurse practitioner.

What attracted you to Carson-Newman program? How do you know what was the right fit for you?

Because I had been a student here before, that's what attracted me. It was the first place I looked, so I knew that it would be a good fit. I looked at Carson-Newman, and then I was like, "Well, let me look at some of the other programs that Tennessee offers." I looked at some that were local, and MTSU and Vanderbilt, and looking into the other schools program, I just didn't get the same feel that I knew that I would have at Carson-Newman. Also, I felt like the cost of Carson-Newman, you're at a private school, getting a private education at the cost of what a state school is. And I knew the class sizes would be smaller, the groups would be smaller, which I feel like our small group here this weekend has been fantastic. And, I don't feel, I know it's a quality education.

How has working with the dedicated student support advisor impacted your experience? Has it helped?

I think it's definitely helped. When I've had questions, she's definitely been great to get in touch with. She explains things well. I think it's been good experience. I haven't needed her a whole lot, but she has been very great to get in touch with.

What positive aspects of the faculty have you benefited from, accessibility or responsiveness or other things?

I think the responsiveness and accessibility of the faculty that I have been involved with has been pretty tremendous. I have one instructor that it amazes me at how quickly she gets our grades back. We're all very impatient these days, and so it's nice to have a very responsive instructor.

Was the tuition competitive? How did that play into your decision?

Definitely the tuition was competitive. I said before, the comparison with a state school and Carson-Newman being a private school, to me, it's just... It definitely was pennies difference in comparison to what I had looked at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt just isn't something that... Me, I don't wanna pay $100,000 for a graduate education. And so I feel like Carson-Newman really was a place that you could get the same, you could get your private school education and it's at a state school price, which is phenomenal, in my opinion.

Can you think about other features of Carson-Newman's program that have been beneficial or special to you?

I think Carson-Newman being a Christian University definitely impacted my decision, very openly can talk to my instructors about faith. Having instructors send emails, saying, "We're thinking about you guys. We're praying for you guys," it really makes a difference. And for me, that was definitely important, because I feel like, in today's climate, a lot of times we tend to tiptoe around religion, and I feel like that we don't have to here, we can talk very openly about it.

What advice do you have for other students that may be thinking about coming to work on their MSN?

Be ready. It's gonna definitely... I thought I was ready for what it would look like, but it definitely was one of those things that... It's a lot of work. I take it week by week, and handle what comes my way, and try not to look too far ahead or too far behind and just keep trucking along. Organization is hands down key. I tend to be naturally organized, so that has helped me, just making sure you're organized and just ready for the workload that's ahead. But it's been... I'd say it's a lot of work, but I've gotten so used to it and I... I don't enjoy having a load of work to do, but when we are on a break, I've gotten to a point of, "What am I supposed to do now? I don't have any school work today." I'm sure I'll figure out something to do when we have our long break, but I think just being organized and expect more than you were expecting as far as workload.

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