Jenna Pederson, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC: Jenna graduated from the Direct Entry Master's Entry in Nursing (MSN) for Non-Nurses: Clinical Nurse Leader program at Rush in 2011. She then went on to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program and graduated in 2016.
Jenna is currently a Family Nurse Practitioner at a Federally Qualified Health Center.
What are your thoughts about gaining nursing experience before entering/applying for an advanced practice degree?
I am very appreciative of the nursing experience I have had prior to applying for and starting an advanced practice degree program. After graduating with my entry-level nursing degree, working helped engrain clinical principles into my practice. All of the medical information that was challenging during nursing school has become second nature. As a nurse, I’m better able to adapt my care to the type of patient that I am assigned. Working has allowed me to learn how to connect with all types of patients.
What were important elements in your GEM program that you believe prepare you to succeed at a high level in an advanced practice program?
The GEM program treats you as a graduate level student and effectively prepares you to continue your education. I feel that the Rush faculty helped me become an increasingly responsible and independent learner. As a GEM graduate, I was educated to be a competent novice nurse. However, I was also educated to ask questions and find the answers to all the types of clinical questions.
What are your thoughts about the GEM to DNP structure, that is, a strong generalist master's foundation progressing to a specialty doctoral focus?
Gaining my GEM nursing degree prior to pursuing my advance practice degree has made a huge difference in my nursing career. Working has helped me fine tune my clinical preferences and has changed my ideas on what type of nurse I would like to be. If I didn’t have nursing experience, I would have blindly chosen an entirely different advance practice degree. Now that I have worked, I know what type of patients I want to care for throughout my career. I am more confident that I am choosing the correct advanced practice degree program [FNP].
Describe your favorite aspect of the GEM program.
The Rush community was a pleasant surprise. During my undergraduate education, I actually appreciated “just being a number” at a very large university. However, I found the opposite to be true of my graduate education. I found the smaller cohort sizes at Rush to be very beneficial. In the GEM program, I was able to explore a wide variety of volunteer opportunities and research projects. I forged many wonderful professional relationships with faculty members. The Rush faculty were excellent mentors and were very helpful in bridging the gap between the classroom and clinical practice.