September 12, 1997

School of Nursing’s new class ready for the challenge

School of Nursing's new class ready for the challenge

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Gloria Cano is one of 12 post-master's students in the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing's incoming class. (Photo by Donna Marie Jones)

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Jenny Larkin Goss (left) and Melissa Feyereisen are attending VUSN through a new arrangement with the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Gloria Cano has her work cut out for her. She's taking on 500 clinical hours in the newborn intensive care unit at Vanderbilt University Hospital this semester ‹ grueling days that will lead to her certification as a neonatal nurse practitioner.

She works Monday through Thursdays during the day and 16 hours on both Friday and Saturday. Cano, a 1995 graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, has worked for the past two years as a staff nurse in the NICU.

It's an exhausting pace for the new VUSN post-master's student, but one that will pay off when she receives her certification. Following the completion of the program, she hopes to be hired full-time as a neonatal nurse practitioner at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

"It's really hard right now, but it will lead to so many more opportunities," she said.

Cano is one of 12 post-master's students at VUSN and one of 228 new students in the school's incoming class. Of the total number of MSN students, 30 (12.6 percent) are male and 93 are already RNs.

There are four new bridge students. VUSN is one of only a few schools in the nation offering a Bridge program in which non-RN, bachelor's degree students can receive a master's degree in nursing in two years.

There are three new direct-entry students ‹ those who enter with a bachelor of science in nursing and who study for three semesters.

Cano, a graduate of Peabody College, chose VUSN because of its reputation. "It has an excellent reputation among nursing schools," she said.

There are two firsts for the new school year ‹ a new specialty, pediatric nurse practitioner, and a new arrangement with the United States Air Force Academy to admit qualified applicants to the Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty.

Jenny Lark Goss and Melissa Feyereisen are the two students participating in the Air Force program. The roommates, both 22, have a seven-year commitment to the Air Force. Two of those years will be spent at Vanderbilt receiving their training. During the remaining five years, they will be assigned to an Air Force Base as adult acute care nurse practitioners.

Goss said the 14 semester hours at VUSN are not overwhelming due to the 21 to 24 semester hours she took at the Air Force Academy.

"On paper, my schedule looks really good here, plus I have no additional duties and it seems to be a less stressful environment, everything considered. I know it won't be easy, though."

John McGraw, 35, has also served in the Air Force and recently completed a bachelor's degree in psychology at Middle Tennessee State University. He's in the Women's Health Nurse Practitioner specialty and his career goal is to return to the Air Force as a commissioned officer and certified WHNP.

McGraw, whose wife, Amanda, graduated from VUSN this summer, is the father of two preschool children, John II and Jessica.

His decision to choose the women's health nurse practitioner tract was personal. A close friend in the military died from cervical cancer several years ago.

"It had a great impact on me. Because of this, I am interested in being able to provide nurse practitioner skills to a community or somewhere where it's lacking," McGraw said.

He said that he has long been interested in a medical career, and has been impressed with the evolution of a nurse's role in providing health care. McGraw may also become certified as a nurse midwife.

"If I am certified as both a women's health nurse practitioner and a nurse midwife, I will be able to deliver the community's babies as well. It's a very cost effective way to deliver health care to a community and in such a caring way."