Alumni Interview with Michaela Klose, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C – Gonzaga University

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About Michaela Klose, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C: Michaela Klose is a Family Nurse Practitioner in internal medicine at MedProvider, a Baylor Scott & White Health Texas Affiliate. With over 16 years of nursing experience, Ms. Klose has provided information for numerous students, universities, and organizations on a wide variety of topics, including traumatic brain injury, transcultural nursing, and public health. She has also published work on the safety of medication administration, and provided consultation to hospitals and community health settings within the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Barbados, and Africa. Her diverse background in the field of nursing ranges from surgery, community health, pediatrics, trauma, neurology, case management, marketing, program development, and most recently as a Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Operating Officer.

Ms. Klose earned her Associate of Science in Nursing in 2001, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2002 from College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska. She graduated from Benedictine University’s online graduate nursing program in 2012, earning an MSN in the specialty area of Management, Leadership, & Finance. In 2015, she graduated from Gonzaga University’s online MSN program, earning her second master’s in the specialty area of Family Nurse Practitioner. She plans on obtaining her PhD in Nursing and Masters of Public Health in the future.

Interview Questions

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background in nursing?

[Michaela Klose MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C] I graduated from College of Saint Mary with my ASN in 2001. After graduation, I began my nursing career as a surgical scrub nurse at University of Nebraska Medical Center where I worked and also completed my accelerated BSN degree. Upon graduation with my BSN in 2002, I became the Immunization/Lead Programs Coordinator for the health department of Council Bluffs, IA, where I managed over 54,000 children and developed a lead poisoning program. I loved my job with the health department and it was there my passion for public health was ignited. However, because of the limited opportunities within the small town, I decided I would move to a bigger city as I knew my long term goal was to become a Nurse Practitioner.

Dallas had several options for excellent graduate schools so I moved here and worked with pediatrics at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, managed all three trauma services at Parkland Hospital, and was recruited to start a traumatic brain injury program within another hospital. It was with this opportunity my leadership skills were used and I was recognized as the youngest Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer in the North Texas Region. While working I started a family but also became ill with Ovarian Cancer at 32. I took a leave of absence and during my medical leave I started my first Masters of Nursing program at Benedictine University.

After my health was stable and I finished my degree, I decided to work at my children’s school as a school nurse and continued my studies for my second master’s in nursing at Gonzaga University. I now have been working in internal medicine at MedProvider, a Baylor Scott & White Health Texas Affiliate, and loving every single minute of it! As an Internal Medicine FNP, I primarily work with patients that have chronic illnesses such as Hypertension, Hyperlipidemia, Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, CHF, and Cancers as well as acute issues that one would see in urgent care. I love my job and there isn’t a day I don’t learn something new.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What motivated you to pursue your MSN online? What advantages did you see to online education? Did Gongaza’s online program meet these expectations?

[Michaela Klose MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C] When I was applying to FNP programs, I knew that I wanted the flexibility to continue working but also wanted a rigorous program that also made me come to campus and be assessed for my skills and knowledge. It was very important to me to be associated with a prestigious university that expects excellence in academic and professional pursuits as well as intentionally develops the whole person through social justice initiatives. Gonzaga University fit my criteria. Within Gonzaga’s program, I grew intellectually, spiritually, culturally, physically, and emotionally.

Gonzaga University’s online program most certainly met my expectations and more. It was the challenging nature of Gonzaga’s program that allowed me to be prepared to take both board certifications through ANCC and AANP. In addition, I felt going to a school within a state that has full practice authority would benefit me in the long run. It was very important to me that faculty members were actively practicing as Nurse Practitioners and living the mission of the school. I can say that every faculty member at Gonzaga is a practicing NP that has full practice authority. It is with this benefit I was able to gain additional insight into real world scenarios and solutions to problems.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] How did Gonzaga’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?

[Michaela Klose MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C] All the courses at Gonzaga were asynchronous with lectures, discussion posts, PowerPoint presentations, and quizzes. I loved the asynchronous modality as I was able to do it on my own time after work or caring for my family. Gonzaga facilitated interaction between students by having many group projects, discussion boards that were interactive, and classroom activities on immersion weekends. I completely felt as though my professors were accessible. I felt that they paid careful attention to detail, were willing to engage in nonjudgment listening, and accurately taught me how to diagnose in a caring manner. I truly believe they were excellent and successful role models.

The professors were extremely accessible by email, phone, and a couple of occasions I even Skyped with professors! They responded very quickly to emails. I felt as though I had the same access to faculty as I did at CSM for my undergraduate degree. In fact, various adjunct faculty members were preceptors for those of us out of state. It was great to see that even the adjunct faculty took their teaching responsibilities very seriously and wanted to extensively educate the Gonzaga students.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Gonzaga University’s online MSN program requires 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?

[Michaela Klose MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C] As the number of nursing programs in the U.S. offering distance education for nurse practitioner students has grown, challenges of evaluating student clinical performance have become apparent. So while researching potential programs, the idea of visiting the campus was an absolute requirement for me. I wanted a program that could identify early in my clinical courses if I was struggling with clinical skills or had weaknesses. There are so many online programs that do not have hands-on education and leave their students to learn from preceptors. I wanted to make sure I was learning the correct way of assessing, diagnosing, and planning for a patient. I felt that this requirement was an absolute enhancement for the program.

During my on-campus immersions, we completed one OSCE [objective structured clinical examination] at two separate times each semester, with generally 6 to 8 weeks between the two OSCEs. Each OSCE was conducted within a 30-minute timeframe with scripted model patients and a nurse educator. The case scenarios were designed to assess eight clinical skills: (a) history taking; (b) physical examination technique; (c) physical examination knowledge; (d) identification of abnormality; (e) differential diagnosis; (f) patient interaction; (g) patient presentation; (h) written documentation of encounters. In addition to these immersions, we learned how to do pap smears and testicular exams. In labs we learned how to perform IUD placement, punch biopsies and suturing. Although extremely stressful at the time, I truly feel this was an absolute benefit of the program and it was so rewarding to know I passed the hardest exams and OSCEs. It was because of these immersion weekends I am better prepared professionally and didactically than most FNPs that didn’t have this opportunity.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What were the major pros and cons of pursuing your graduate nursing degree online? What challenges did you encounter throughout your completion of the online program, and how did you address them? On the flip side, what did you enjoy most about completing your MSN degree online?

[Michaela Klose MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C] The major pros of pursuing my graduate degree online were discussed previously, but to summarize it was the flexibility to work, spending time with my family, the ability to go on vacations, and still pursue my dream of becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner. I didn’t see any cons except that I wasn’t able to see my classmates on a regular basis. I addressed that by talking on the phone regularly with them, making study groups online and rooming with them on immersion weekends.

Of course one of the challenges of online education is balancing your educational requirements with family obligations. This was a definite challenge as there were many activities I couldn’t do because I had a requirement for class or clinical. However, the online program taught me how to demand time for myself and this has followed through even now while working.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Clinical practicums are a major component of graduate nursing education. Can you briefly describe how Gonzaga 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?

[Michaela Klose MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C] Before I even looked into various programs, I knew that finding clinical sites was difficult. So prior to even applying to certain programs, I solidified various clinical sites with professionals I had met throughout my career here in the Dallas area. I knew I didn’t want to have the stress of looking for a clinical site while in school as I only wanted to study. Once I gained admission into the program, Gonzaga assisted those of us that were out of state with adjunct instructors that were practicing NPs to be our preceptors. I cannot stress how much my self-preparation as well as Gonzaga having an additional list of preceptors and clinical sites available helped.

Throughout my clinical rotations I was very blessed to have amazing preceptors and mentors. I was able to work at an underserved clinic called Agape which also was a clinical site for medical students and other nurse practitioners from other programs. There was always a faculty member on site from other schools and they too were great in challenging me. At this clinic, certain days were specialties so I was able to gain a lot of hands-on experience. So depending on the clinical rotation, I would be able to work in that section of the clinic with a different professor/preceptor. For example, on Tuesdays I was able to only due pap smears for women’s health. Wednesday was family practice, Thursdays ortho and Friday dermatology. I was able to put my skills I learned on my immersion weekends at Gonzaga to work by suturing, administering blocks for toenail extractions, and IUD placement. By the time I got to my last rotation, I had so much experience from working in this underserved clinic I was ready to go to internal medicine as a specialty for my last rotation.

For my last rotation, I wanted a very challenging environment that would also give me the experience of private practice since I was only working with the underserved. This rotation was over 360 hours and the challenges of doing assignments, clinical and balancing family was very stressful. However this experience was amazing. It was with this rotation I knew I wanted to go into IM because not only am I getting the FP side of things, I am also going one step further in practice. We are the specialists when FP can’t do anymore. I love diagnosing new conditions and ordering labs I hadn’t heard before. This rotation was so amazing, they offered me a job after graduation and I accepted the offer.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What advice would you give students just starting Gonzaga University’s online MSN program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are just starting or considering an online MSN program, whether it be at Gonzaga or another institution?

[Michaela Klose MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C] At the beginning of Gonzaga’s program, I would reach out to one’s assigned academic advisor to touch base as they can be very helpful throughout the program. In addition, I would plan for immersion weekends immediately after finding out what dates you need to be there. Booking travel and hotels is advisable. I would recommend coming in a day before the immersion weekend if possible so one can settle in, study for an extra day without any distractions. I found this very helpful.

For students considering an online advance practice nurse program, I would highly suggest applying for a program where you can have immersions. Although there is a cost associated with this, you will forever be changed both mentally, physically and emotionally. The hands-on experience you obtain at Gonzaga is excellent. I would also highly emphasize the importance of being organized, knowing the syllabi and what is expected throughout the semester. If one does not take initiative or is a procrastinator, an online program is not advisable. Furthermore, I would also look at the school’s percentage of graduates that pass national boards on their first attempt. Gonzaga has had a 100% rate for years and is highly recognized. Finally, regardless of which online MSN program, I would accentuate the importance of having a support system in place that will allow one to flourish and succeed in the program.

Thank you, Ms. Klose, for participating in our alumni interview series, and sharing your experience as an online FNP student!


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About the Author: Jake Ravani is an Editor at OnlineFNPPrograms.com, and has been writing about educational trends and online degree programs since 2010. He earned his BA in English from UC Santa Cruz.