“It’s been a lifelong dream to be a Family Nurse Practitioner.”
Tell us your name, which of the programs are you in, and when you expect to graduate?
My name is Katherine Severino, and I'm in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at Carson-Newman. I started in January of this year, and expect to graduate in 2022.
What's your favorite part about being a nurse?
I love being a nurse. Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to be a nurse. I love taking care of people, especially those who are less fortunate and have less access to healthcare. I like providing that care, either in the home setting or inpatient setting.
Tell us a little bit about your educational background. How did you get to here?
I've been a nurse for 23 years. I graduated from Belmont University in 1997, got my Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, continued to practice as a nurse for 23 years, and then decided, "You know what, I really want to be a nurse practitioner." There's a huge need, especially in the Nashville area where I'm from, for nurse practitioners, and it's always been a life-long dream for me to be a family nurse practitioner. Although I have a very busy schedule, I'm a mother of two and a single mom at that, and have two part-time jobs that I'm doing. I needed a program that was more flexible, that I could do online, but then still be able to fulfill my lifelong dream to be a nurse practitioner one day.
“I needed a program that was more flexible.”
What are your plans for the future? How do you plan to use this degree?
Well, half of my nursing career was in women's health, pediatrics, and family nursing, both in the community health setting, private practice and also inpatient as a labor and delivery nurse. And then the second half of my nursing career has been in palliative hospice and mental health nursing. I've got several different options of what I want to do with my Family Nurse Practitioner's degree, but the first step, I think, is I want to be in family practice with a focus on mental health nursing, and own a hospice, seeing hospice patients in their home, especially those who can't get out of their home, geriatric population, who may not be able to get out and get to the doctor. I want to be able to come to them and provide services to them in the home. I also have a vision of having my own women's health clinic for teenagers and at-risk teens and providing regular care, family planning as well as prenatal care for them.
Let's talk a little bit about your experience here at Carson-Newman. What are your expectations about going to school here?
Well, my expectations, number one, it's a Christian atmosphere. I am a Christian and I think it's very important to be a part of a university with a Christian atmosphere. Also, I like the fact that it's a flexible university where you can get your degree online, especially for those who are single parents or who have several jobs to be able to do their work as they have time, instead of having to go in person.
How do you balance your life, work and studies?
Well, that's a good question. Right now, I have two PRN jobs that I can schedule around my schooling. I also have designated days of the week where I do my schooling. I also try to wake up a little extra early in the morning so I'm available for my children in the afternoon and evenings when they need me the most, especially when they're in school.
“It has taught me to have better assessment skills.”
Have you been able to integrate anything that you've learned so far in this program into the jobs that you have currently?
Absolutely. I would say more in the hospice palliative care job that I currently have. I go to facilities and homes and I assess all my patients. It has taught me to have better assessment skills, physical assessment skills, and be able to recognize early symptoms or late symptoms of a condition and be able to communicate more effectively with the provider.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with the faculty. How has it been working with them?
The faculty here have been great. They've been easy to communicate with. Most of the communication that we do, of course, since it's the online program, is through email and an occasional phone call as well, if I have extra trouble. They have been very understanding and very accommodating. I currently have a special situation and they have been able to work with me as far as assignments and things like that, given me a little extra time to be able to complete those assignments, so that I can fulfill my dream.
What about the three-day residency. How has that been? Any highlights or special moments?
The best thing, of course, about coming out here to Jefferson City, Tennessee, from Nashville was to come out and actually meet the faculty face-to-face, the ones that I had been communicating with since January. Being able to communicate with them and be able to see them face-to-face and practice those skills and get that one-on-one feedback here, and then also meet the students that I have been in school with since January, and be able to put a name with a face and learn from each other and grow from each other's experiences.
Have you worked with the clinical placement service? Has that worked out for you?
Actually, the way that I arranged my clinical this semester is through my son's pediatrician's office. My son's pediatrician is double-boarded in internal medicine and pediatrics, and I was looking for a clinical experience, where I could get practice with both adults and children, so they welcomed me with open arms and I'm looking forward to working with them.
Great. Can you think of any other benefits from selecting Carson-Newman, as where you wanted to go to school?
I would say any other benefits from choosing Carson-Newman besides the flexibility and the accommodations is it's a smaller school. Not only is it a Christian school, but it's a smaller school, and I don't feel like I'm one of a number as I would in a larger university.
“I wanted to find a university that was affordable.”
What attracted you to Carson-Newman?
I went to Belmont University undergraduate and got my Bachelor's in Science and Nursing, and I wanted to go to a Christian university. That was very important to me. Also, I wanted to find a university that was affordable. In Nashville, we have quite a few universities there, and quite a few that offer the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. However, they're a lot more expensive, so I was looking for a school that was also more affordable and feasible financially, and found Carson-Newman.
I did a lot of research. I looked at all different types of schooling in-person and online, but came to the reality that since I'm a single parent and I am working and needed a university that was part-time and flexible and online. I reached out to an academic advisor, and she was very helpful and helped explain the program, helped me feel at ease, because it was very nerve-wracking after 23 years of being out of school, to re-apply and to start the process for my Master's. It was terrifying. I was very anxious and terrified, and she helped me through the process and helped reassure me that she would walk with me through the process, and she did.
I have a wonderful advisor now, who I've been working with. She touches base with me on a regular basis and helps ease my nerves, answer any questions that I might have, and helps me feel like I'm not alone in this process.
Has the small class size been a benefit to you?
I think the small class size has definitely been beneficial, again, because I don't feel like I'm one of many, and we get a lot more one-on-one with our professors. Because we're online, we still have Skype and Zoom meetings, so we don't feel like we're isolated on our own island in the online world. That has been very beneficial, and again, just not feeling like we're a number and having that one-on-one connection with our professors and the students in a small class size.
“Carson Newman welcomes you with open arms.”
What advice would you give to other students who are thinking about working on their Master's and looking for a Family Nurse Practitioner Program?
I would definitely encourage them, and as a matter of fact, I have been speaking to several of my friends who are in the same boat as me, who've always wanted to be a nurse practitioner, but haven't felt like they could do it, felt like it would be too overwhelming, and I've said, "But you can," and I'll tell you what, Carson-Newman is a good place to go. They're a Christian university. They'll welcome you with open arms, and they'll help you each and every step of the way, and it's a wonderful program, and I'm so glad I chose Carson-Newman.