Graduate Spotlight: Janelle Shank

Janelle Shank headshotArizona resident Janelle Shank (G’12) earned her BSN from Arizona State University in 2010, and was the first student to enroll in the Nursing@Georgetown program. Now a graduate of the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies, she shares her motivations for pursuing an advanced degree and some of the lessons she learned along the way.

Why did you decide to pursue your master’s degree?

I believe that APRNs play a unique and vital role, not only in the health promotion and disease prevention in our country, but also in health care delivery and medical research. I became an APRN because I wanted to be a part of promoting our nation’s health on an individual level and expanding their knowledge of the cause of many preventable diseases, while also contributing to the need for health care providers.

Why did you want to pursue the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty?

I pursued the FNP concentration because it gives me the most flexibility with the patient populations I am able to care for. I enjoy seeing patients in all stages of life and am glad that as an FNP I can provide care for patients across the lifespan from newborn to elderly.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting in this career path?

My advice to someone just starting this career path, and this program in particular, is to make no assumptions about it being an “online program.” This program is not easy; it demands the same level of effort as an on-campus program, but it is definitely worth it. Be organized from day one. Always watch every asynchronous lecture, and watch them again if you need to. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And enjoy learning — it’s a lifelong process!

What was your experience with the Learning Management System (2GU)?

The Learning Management System, 2GU, was fantastic. It was very easy to use and the student support team was awesome. I found it very easy to connect with students and professors, and it was a convenient and organized way to submit assignments.

Do you have an example you can share of a time when you were able to apply something you’d learned in class to your current job?

I was able to apply the things I was learning in class every time I went to work. There were countless occasions when I had been studying a specific condition, diagnostic test, treatment, etc., and the next day at work I would have a patient with the same condition.

I’ll never forget after having watched Dr. Eshkevari’s lectures on neuro and spinal cord trauma, I had a patient who had some paralysis from being in a car accident. She was slowly regaining some movement in her arms, and I was able to explain to her family, based on where her injuries took place, the difference between damage to the upper motor neurons versus the lower motor neurons and how the location of the injury determines prognosis and recovery, etc. It was a great learning experience for me and really helped to solidify the course content.

What is one skill you believe every nurse should possess, no matter what stage in their career?

I believe that every nurse, in any stage of their career, should possess the ability to think critically. We learn not only how to recognize what things are, but also what things aren’t. It has been said that the difference between an excellent NP and an average NP is their list of differentials. Thinking critically enables the NP to evaluate a patient’s presentation and the list of possibilities and effectively unite the two.

Do you currently work part or full time?

I worked full time throughout the first 3.5 semesters and reduced my hours to PRN (per diem nurse) for my last two semesters. I am pursuing full-time employment as an FNP.

In what states have you practiced?

I have only been a nurse in the state of Arizona.

In what departments have you worked?

My nursing background is primarily in the ICU and acute care settings. Most recently, I was a nurse on an ortho/neuro/trauma unit at a Level 1 trauma center.

How old are you?

I am 27 years old.

What are some ways you worked to create a healthy work-school-life balance?

The work-school-life balance was definitely a challenge. For a while, I didn’t have much of a life outside of work and school — needless to say, my life was far from balanced.

I don’t recommend working full time, if you can avoid it. My first semester was probably the most difficult in this respect, but I had a great support system, which every study should have. Each successive semester was easier to balance life, since I knew a bit more of what to expect, how to plan my time, and when to close the book and stop studying for that exam!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I felt incredibly well-prepared for the FNP certification exam. (I think the program accumulative final was harder than the board exam, but don’t let that scare you.) It is an excellent program and if I had it to do over again, I would. Would you regret having a Georgetown degree? I didn’t think so!

We invite you to learn more about the Nursing@Georgetown program, or call our admissions team at 1-877-910-HOYA (4692).