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GEM Alumni Profile: Melissa Krueger

Melissa Krueger, MSN, RN

Melissa graduated from the Direct Entry Master's (MSN) for Non-Nurses: Generalist Entry Master's (GEM) Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)  at Rush in 2014 and started the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) program in the Summer of 2018.

Melissa is currently a registered nurse II on the Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Rush University Medical Center.

What are your thoughts about gaining nursing experience before entering/applying for an advanced practice degree?

Before I became a registered nurse (RN), I was a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and nursing assistant (NA) for 6 years (while in undergrad, between undergrad and my transition to the GEM program, and on weekends during the GEM program). Gaining experience as a CNA/NA has made me a better RN! The way I see it, gaining nursing experience before my advanced practice degree is just as important! By the time I am an advanced practice nurse I will be a nurse for 7 years! I believe that the more experience before an advanced practice degree, the more confidence you will have taking care of acutely ill patients safely. 

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 important elements in the GEM program that I believe have led me to succeed at a high level in an advanced practice program are the leadership classes and clinical skills that started from the first week of the GEM program. The GEM program's classes on leadership and variety of clinical placements developed a strong foundation for my confidence and skills to feel ready to transition from nursing student to novice nurse, and now moving forward, on the path of the advanced practice program.

What are your thoughts about the GEM to DNP structure, that is, a strong generalist master's foundation progressing to a specialty doctoral focus?

My thought about the GEM to DNP structure to a specialty doctoral focus is one word manageable! There are classes required in the GEM program that are required for the DNP program too! The beginning of the DNP program is a little slower (in terms of class load) for the GEM students, which is great after not being in school for example, 4 years, like myself. I was able to ease back into student life while working full-time as a nurse! I believe it is necessary to gain experience post GEM student, as a nurse, and then ease into the DNP. Both of these degrees are tough (manageable) work!

Describe your favorite aspect of the GEM program.

My favorite aspect of the GEM program was starting in clinical the first week. As I said, I had experience in the hospital already, but I felt like being in clinical and the hospital was where I strived. When all the books were aside and I was at the bedside, I knew it was where I belonged. I am proud to say I was a Rush GEM student, I am proud to say I am a Rush nurse, I am proud to say I am a Rush AGACNP student, and I am going to be exceptionally proud when I can say I am a practicing nurse practitioner!