James Madison University

Nursing Student Bridges Programs

By: Daniel Vieth
Posted: December 15, 2014

In the face of a nursing shortage and the increasing complexity of the U.S. healthcare system, JMU’s Department of Nursing continues to grow by using innovative programs that equip its students for the future. JMU also provides access to a number of resources to lead nursing students to successful careers, such as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) new Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA). This past summer, graduate nursing student Joyce Vivian was selected as JMU’s liaison for the GNSA, where she promotes the academy’s resources for fellow graduate nursing students at JMU.

Vivian returned to school to earn her Masters of Science in Nursing after working in a number of different capacities. Vivian has worked with intensive care nursing, clinical nursing in specialty areas, and as a medical device representative. “There was just a big spectrum of nursing things I had done, but [earning my Masters] was always something I wanted to do,” Vivian explained. “I felt with my background in patient care, and having done many of the different things you can do with an [undergraduate] nursing degree, this was a good thing to do.”

According to their website, the AACN is the “national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education,” where they work to establish quality standards for nursing programs and work with the government to create policies that represent the profession. The AACN created the Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA) two years ago as a way to provide free, high quality resources to help graduate nursing students outside of the classroom, such as webinars on how to have research papers published or the basics of scholarly writing. “The AACN recognized that with all the recent expansion and growth for advance practice nurses, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse leaders that they really wanted to give them an additional level of support and provide a foundation for [extracurricular] learning opportunities, scholarships, networking, and more,” Vivian explained. “They just formed this wonderful collection of webinars, scholarship opportunities, and listings of schools that provide Masters, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and PhD programs.”

Vivian was recommended to represent the GNSA by her epidemiology professor Dr. Maria DeValpine. “It’s just one of those times that everything fell into place,” said Vivian. “[DeValpine] had gotten an email from the GNSA that they were expanding and were looking for folks who were interested, so she sent it to me and I jumped on it.” As a liaison for the GNSA, Vivian’s responsibilities include communicating between the organization and JMU’s graduate nursing students by encouraging students to enroll in the academy. “It required me to be in front of people, which I love to do,” Vivian exclaimed. “I love to deliver messages and get people excited about things.”

Vivian will also have the opportunity to attend the 3 day AACN policy conference in Washington, DC this March. “Universities associated with the AACN get to send both graduate and undergraduate students every year,” Vivian explained. “We will spend about half a one day on Capitol Hill learning about how the government and the AACN put together policies that influence the profession of nursing.”

“I thought the GNSA was a worthwhile organization that really could be, if utilized to its fullest extent, a remarkable resource,” Vivian continued. “It’s easy to use, there are lots of resources, and it’s free, which is great for graduate students.” After graduating from JMU, Vivian plans to work as an adult nurse practitioner, and eventually would like to enroll in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. While she won’t be a part of GNSA once she has graduated, she plans to continue participating with AACN. “We all get so busy with school and transitioning to jobs, but nurses must remember that these resources are there,” said Vivian. “You can go to their websites and see what activities are happening, what conferences are going on, and see what insights there are into what’s influencing our practice going forward.”