About Jamie Kulick, DNP, CNM: Jamie Kulick is a full scope Certified Nurse Midwife based in Morgantown, West Virginia. Along with her work as a CNM, she has extensive experience as an RN, having served as a registered nurse in both a medical/surgical unit and a birth center.
Ms. Kulick holds an RN diploma from Citizens School of Nursing in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Penn State University. In 2013, she earned her MSN in Nurse Midwifery through the online program at Frontier Nursing University. While working as a full scope CNM, Ms. Kulick entered the online DNP program at Frontier, graduating with her doctorate in 2016.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background in nursing?
[Jamie Kulick, DNP, CNM] I received my RN Diploma from Citizens School of Nursing in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. After graduation, I started my nursing career on a medical/surgical unit in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. I continued my education while working as a registered nurse earning my BSN from Penn State University. I planned on becoming a midwife so in addition to working med/surg, I also took a part-time position at a birth center as an RN.
I received my MSN in Nurse Midwifery from Frontier Nursing University through their distance learning program. I completed my clinical rotations at Magee Women’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and also at The Midwife Center in Pittsburgh. After graduation, I worked as a full scope CNM in Pittsburgh. I continued with Frontier’s online learning program and obtained my DNP while working as a full scope CNM.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What motivated you to pursue your MSN and DNP online? What advantages did you see to online education? Did the online program at Frontier Nursing University meet these expectations?
[Jamie Kulick, DNP, CNM] I was motivated by online learning because of the flexibility. I have four children and needed to work full time. Frontier’s program allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a midwife. I would never have been able to complete my education in a traditional program at a brick-and-mortar university. The program was structured and deadlines were clearly laid out. It was organized and thorough.
I was able to work on my assignments around both my work and family schedule. I was able to meet with my teachers through Skype, phone calls, and Google plus. I never felt like I was alone. I was able to complete my clinicals in my community. The distance education program at Frontier Nursing University fully met my expectations for an online program.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] How did FNU’s online platform enable you to interact with faculty members and classmates? Were courses asynchronous, synchronous, or a combination of both? How often did you interact with faculty, and did you feel that your instructors were accessible to online students?
[Jamie Kulick, DNP, CNM] While working on my MSN at Frontier they used Angel, it was not my favorite online learning platform. I used Angel at Penn State so I had an advantage over other students as I already knew how to navigate the Angel platform. It took a long time to learn how to use it. Angel did not allow for many interactions live with the instructors so there were links using other software to have live lectures. There were traditional lectures pre-recorded in Angel, discussion boards, and email. I did not like logging into Angel with my smartphone as it did not work well so I did not have this tool available. The good news is they no longer utilize Angel at Frontier. The new platform at Frontier is Canvas. Canvas is the platform I used for my DNP program. Canvas is very user friendly. There were many ways to interact with fellow students and faculty including discussion boards, pre-recorded and live lectures, and email. There was also a very easy to use app for my smartphone. I really like how the app synced with my smartphone calendar, I never forgot or missed an assignment.
Most of the instruction was asynchronous. Clinical was done after the didactic portion of the program. This worked well for me as I felt prepared and ready to put my knowledge into action. I interacted with faculty on a weekly basis, but they were always available via virtual office hours. I also had the ability to email, call, Skype, Facetime, or Google+ to communicate if I needed my instructor.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Frontier’s online graduate nursing programs require students to make a limited number of visits to the campus for labs and on-campus intensives. What activities and events were included in these on-campus sessions?
[Jamie Kulick, DNP, CNM] I enjoyed meeting with my cohort and instructors on campus. The first meeting on campus (Frontier bound) prepares you for what you are about to undertake which is a good thing to do, you get to meet your faculty and fellow classmates, you know these are real people who care about you and your learning. The second meeting on campus is for Clinical bound. There are labs and skills checks, these are live exams. Before you go and complete your clinicals, you get evaluated by your instructors so you know you are ready and fully prepared for the clinical portion of the program. You get hands-on training on suturing, physical exams, work with mannequins and live volunteers for exams.
I enjoyed going to the on-campus intensives, at first I was not happy about having to travel there, but I am really glad they had this requirement. I got so much confidence and necessary skills from these meetings. I also got to meet my instructors live which elevated my online learning experience because I felt connected with them more.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What were the major pros and cons of pursuing your graduate nursing degrees online? What challenges did you encounter throughout your completion of the online programs, and how did you address them? On the flip side, what did you enjoy most about completing your MSN and DNP online?
[Jamie Kulick, DNP, CNM] The pros were having the ability and flexibility to earn my degrees. I was able to work on my assignments on my own time whether it be 4 PM or 2 AM. I was able to complete my clinicals in my community instead of having to move my family or leave them for long periods of time. I did not find many cons with my online learning experience other than working on group projects with individuals in different time zones.
The coursework was challenging and I did have to complete tons of reading to understand assignments. I had to modify my schedule tremendously. I read on lunch breaks at work. I had to put my friends on hold as I only had time for work, school, and immediate family. This was a hard task because I wanted to have a social life. I did make many new friends though through Frontier all going through what I was, so this helped with that burden. I ultimately always kept my eye on the prize, doing a job I love and providing for my children.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Clinical practicums are a major component of graduate nursing education. Can you briefly describe how Frontier Nursing University handles clinical placements for online students? Can you elaborate on your experiences in your clinical practicum rotations and what were some key takeaways from your rotations that you feel helped you successfully make the transition from being a registered nurse to being a health care provider?
[Jamie Kulick, DNP, CNM] Clinical placement through Frontier requires the student to locate a preceptor. Frontier already had a list of previous preceptors available. Many were already in Frontier’s system and already credentialed, so it was just asking them if they would precept you. One could obtain a preceptor and get them credentialed through Frontier if they were not yet in the system, which was also an easy task.
I had preceptors that I knew from my community and they made my transition from RN to CNM an easy one. The nice thing is if one didn’t know where they could do clinicals, Frontier did help locate one. My preceptors let me do things right away which was nice, they were right there with me, but they let me lead after a short introduction on real life CNM practice. This prepared me for being on my own one day. I remember the first birth I had without my preceptor’s hands on mine, it was awesome and extremely terrifying but her confidence in me boosted mine. My advice for future students is start looking into preceptors early, as you will spend a lot of time with them and you want to make sure you reserve your spot with them.
[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What advice would you give students just starting FNU’s online MSN or DNP program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are just starting or considering an online graduate nursing degree program, whether it be at Frontier University or another institution?
[Jamie Kulick, DNP, CNM] I would advise anyone starting out at Frontier or any other program to get ready for a lot of hard work. You get out of it what you put into it, and if you are not ready to give it the time, attention, and dedication stop now because you will fail. You are preparing for a career where you are responsible for people’s lives and you need to understand that it will not be easy. Tears will come, there will be times where it feels like reading is never ending. Get your learning space ready, you will need a place to have your books, quiet space, and a plain room for taking tests. Be proactive and prepared. Get your assignments and look at your calendar, set up times to complete things and STICK to it. The worst thing you can do is get behind, your work quality will suffer and likely your grades. Plus you yourself will suffer from the stress you will endure from getting behind.
Thank you, Ms. Kulick, for participating in our alumni interview series, and sharing your experience as an online nursing student!