Alumni Interview with Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN – University of South Alabama

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About Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN: Ginny Moullet works as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in the Intensive Care Unit at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Washington. She has extensive experience in critical care nursing, having served as an RN in a number of emergency departments, ICUs, and cardiac catheterization labs throughout Washington State.

Ms. Moullet earned her BSN from Loma Linda University in 2008. In December 2016, she graduated from the University of South Alabama’s online MSN program, earning her master’s in the Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty. She is certified by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) as an ACNPC-AG; CCRN, and by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) in Certified Emergency Nursing (CEN).

Interview Questions

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

[Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN] I graduated from Loma Linda University with my BSN. I went on to work in rural Northeast Washington state as a float nurse in a critical access hospital and floated to all departments (ED, ICU, med/surg, OB, surgery/PACU). This job required a great deal of flexibility and had a quick learning curve, as oftentimes I responded to a code or trauma in the ED and then had to assist with a difficult delivery in the obstetrics ward. Most of my time was spent in the ED as it was the busiest department.

From there, I moved to Southeast Washington and started working in the ED and cardiac cath lab where I started my online MSN journey. I graduated with my MSN as an adult acute care nurse practitioner in December 2016 from the University of South Alabama with a specialization in cardiovascular medicine. I am currently working at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in the Intensive Care Unit as an acute care nurse practitioner. I hold certifications from AACN as an ACNPC-AG; CCRN and from ENA as a CEN.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What motivated you to pursue your MSN online? What advantages did you see to online education? Did the online program at the University of South Alabama meet these expectations?

[Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN] As I live in a rural area of the country, there weren’t many options for an MSN. Additionally, I wanted to work as a critical care nurse practitioner and the one program that might have been a local option for me was only for family nurse practitioners. I have two teenagers who are heavily involved in sports so sitting in a classroom was not feasible. At the time I went back to school, I was also taking calls 24 days a month with a 20 minute response time to the hospital for the cardiac cath lab.

With online education I found that I was able to get things done at a quicker pace on my own, freeing me up for more time with my family. The online program at USA was great for this as we did not have to log in at certain times for in-person classwork. We only had to log in on certain days for tests and we did have 24 hours to complete this, so it was very doable.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] How did USA’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?

[Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN] USA utilized the Sakai platform, for asynchronous course delivery. Students post to discussion boards and are required to respond to a certain number of classmates’ posts within a specified time period. Faculty also responded to each student’s posting. Personally, I interacted with faculty more when I started clinical rotations and had a clinical instructor. She was invaluable to my learning and extremely supportive. I felt that instructors were accessible, and never felt as if I couldn’t contact faculty with questions.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] The University of South Alabama’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?

[Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN] I was required to travel once to the school for clinical orientation. The on-campus session lasted several days and was fun as we met classmates we interacted with online. There were various skills stations set up throughout the department and we rotated through. These included arterial line insertion, chest tube insertion, central line insertion, intubation, thoracentesis, paracentesis, and other skills. We also went through the process of obtaining a clinical affiliation with a potential site and the necessary paperwork to complete. I was indifferent to the requirement of visiting the campus. It was fun to visit and see a new town and campus, but if I had to travel several times, it definitely would have been a con.

[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?

[Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN] I can’t say that there were any major cons other than the occasional group work assignment. As students are scattered across the country in different time zones, this can be very challenging. Thankfully, there weren’t many of these types of assignments; group work is my least favorite part of school anyway.

A major challenge I encountered was towards the beginning of my second year in the program. A group of students had made an online Facebook group for our class. One of the class members had posted information about a test that she had learned from another student. Faculty learned about this and instituted stricter requirements for online testing. As per any school, if you are caught cheating you can be expelled from the program. Even though I hadn’t seen the information that was posted, the case could be made for guilt by association. I chose to drop out of the Facebook group for that reason. It was tough from there on out to make friends in the program and get to know my classmates as I was not part of this group anymore, but the peace of mind was invaluable.

The best part of the online program is the flexibility. I took exams in my office in my pajamas! I took 2-3 classes per quarter; this was considered a full-time load, but it was very doable while working full time. Oftentimes I would complete classwork and assignments in my downtime (in between patients) at work. As an online student, you are expected to be independent in your studies. I enjoyed that my hand was not held at every corner, and that I was expected to look up information for myself. This has proved invaluable as a practicing ACNP.

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

[Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN] University of South Alabama requires students to find their own preceptors and clinical sites. Oftentimes this can be a problem for students, especially if they do not have many connections or a particular market is saturated with students. Fortunately, I was one of two people from Washington State in my program, and we did not live anywhere near each other. I put out requests to four different clinical sites and one ended up working out very well.

I had two wonderful preceptors who were invaluable in teaching me the role of the ACNP in the intensive care unit. I worked alongside intensivists who were not officially my preceptor on paper but graciously taught me skills and diagnostic reasoning. During my rotations, I learned as much as I could and jumped into doing as many procedures as I could. I took the same attitude I did while in nursing school – do as many procedures and skills with your preceptor, as you will soon be doing them on your own. Participating in multidisciplinary rounds and contributing to diagnostic reasoning behind disease processes helped me go from the registered nurse role to that of a provider. The key is to formulate a diagnosis and look at the whole clinical picture. Oftentimes as nurses, we tend to focus on a few things, but the key is to take in the whole picture and reason through clinical decision-making.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What advice would you give students just starting USA’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 the University of South Alabama or another institution?

[Ginny Moullet, ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN] Don’t listen to people who complain about online education. I discovered that many people complained about the lack of assistance and help, when I found that if you just ask professors, they do help you. Don’t expect answers and information to be handed to you, you will have to look up information for yourself. This is also true when you are out on your own. If I do not know the answer to a question, I am expected to look it up and then discuss it with my attending. If you are a self-starter and independent student, you will do well in an online MSN program. Stay on top of assignments, get posts and papers done early, do not wait until the last minute.

USA was a wonderful school and was very affordable. Education is what you make it. You have to study, participate, and dig in to your clinical environment to obtain the most from the program. You can pay upwards of $100,000 for your program, or you can pay $20,000 – the end result is that you have to put in the time and effort to obtain the most for yourself and your career. I would also advise against newly licensed registered nurses going straight into a nurse practitioner program. I found that these nurses truly struggled and did not have any clinical experience or critical thinking to draw from. Many of these nurses dropped out from the program. To truly be successful, I would recommend at least five years of nursing experience prior to applying to graduate school.

Thank you, Ms. Moullet, for participating in our alumni interview series, and sharing your experience as an online nursing 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.