Kelly Hintz, RN, MSN’20, found her passion for nursing education in her first job as a registered nurse (RN) on a medical/surgical unit at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “In addition to my staff RN position, I was a clinical coach, preceptor, and patient educator in the Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center,” Hintz recalls. “I also participated in various research projects conducted by our nursing educator specialists and really enjoyed being a part of improving patient care and outcomes.”
After moving to the Twin Cities and continuing her career as a critical care RN at the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center and peri-anesthesia RN with the University of Minnesota Physicians, she decided to pursue her master’s degree in nursing education. Serendipitously, Hintz was approached by St. Catherine University as an adjunct clinical nursing instructor at the same time she was deciding where to continue her education.
“I got a sneak peek into life as a St. Kate's nursing student when I worked as an adjunct instructor. I knew attending their MSN: Nurse Educator program would mean forming connections with area nurse leaders and learning from the best,” Hintz says. “Once I heard St. Kate's was offering it 100% online, I knew it was the program for me. The way the program was designed allowed me to work as an RN full time as well as attend graduate school full time. It was the best fit for my personal and professional goals.”
Through the online format — expertly designed for working professionals by a dedicated faculty— Hintz felt connected to her coursework, faculty, and cohort. “Our cohort was under 20 students, so working virtually I was able to get to know my peers. A smaller class size allowed for better access to faculty and resources; therefore I was able to optimize my time,” she says. “One of the best parts about going through the program was the amount of support from faculty. I truly felt valued as a student and a professional.”
A creative curriculum is the hallmark of St. Kate’s MSN: Nurse Educator where students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to address social injustices, educational gaps, and creative inclusive learning environments. “I was impressed by the array of courses throughout the program, from advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology to informatics, to nursing leadership and practicum,” Hintz says. “One of the first courses in the program challenged me to practice self-reflection and investigate my communication and personality type. In addition to expanding my knowledge of pathophysiology and health assessment, I developed communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills that help me become a stronger educator.” She surmised, “It was a well-rounded program, I took valuable lessons from every single course.”
Well-trained nurse educators are in high demand, regionally and nationally. St. Kate's MSN: Nurse Educator program prepares nurses for a wide spectrum of healthcare and educational environments. In clinical settings, nurse educators guide the continuous professional development of working nurses and other clinicians in hospitals and clinics, as well as provide education to patients to ensure reduced readmission rates and complications and enhance the overall patient experience. Upon graduation, Hintz joined the Medical ICU team at Mayo Clinic. “I have always wanted to work in the ICU,” she says. “I plan to obtain my CCRN (critical care registered nurse) certification and work toward becoming an educator part time. It's important to me that I stay up to date on current practice and procedures so I can best serve my patients and my students.”
Hintz is looking forward to using her new skills that she gained during her St. Kate’s graduate school education. She says, “Nursing is a practice, and obtaining a higher degree shows dedication to that practice and the nursing profession. Completing each course in the program has provided me with extra tools in my toolbox. I feel better equipped to handle any circumstance after finishing St. Kate’s MSN: Nurse Educator program.”