Online M.S. in Nursing Student Pursues Assignment in Middle East

Cory Hasik in uniform standing hear a helicopter

Like others in her master’s program, Cory Hasik was in a rush to graduate last December.

But unlike others, she had semester courses to finish early so she could pack for an excursion 7,000 miles and seven hours away.

First Sergeant of Indiana Army National Guard, Cory was being deployed to the Middle East as a flight paramedic. As the senior enlisted medical professional of her unit, Cory’s aeromedical evacuation unit is responsible for providing air evacuation of casualties, in her words, “to a higher echelon of care.”

Her specific location and assignment remain classified. “I can say that it is a dynamic environment that changes quickly,” she reported, soon after arriving at her site of deployment. “The operational environment is dynamic due to threat and heightened by COVID-19.”

Ready to Transport and Treat

Cory says her unit is equipped with the tools needed to transport and treat COVID patients.

Leading up to her deployment, Cory worked full time as a telemetry unit nurse at the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center in Chicago. She was also enrolled in the Ball State Online master of science in nursing and pursuing the nurse administrator concentration.

Cory wasn’t surprised that Ball State accommodated her military obligations. When she first considered MSN programs in Indiana, she concluded that Ball State University not only “offered one of the state’s highly comprehensive online [nursing] administrator programs” but were also “large supporters of military students.”

She Saw Military Support First-Hand

She was in the middle of a practicum at the Adam Benjamin, Jr. VA Outpatient Clinic in Crown Point, Indiana, when she learned that she would be deployed overseas.

“I was offered the opportunity to complete my clinical requirements in an abbreviated time frame,” says Cory. Course instructor and Ball State associate professor of nursing, Dr. Connie McIntosh, worked with Cory so she could complete clinic hour requirements and a final paper by Dec. 1, before heading to premobilization training.

Nursing Was Opportunity to Change Lives

Cory had entered the nursing field in 2017 after finishing her bachelor’s in nursing, and after five years as a paramedic.

She liked the fact that bedside nursing allows nurses the opportunity to change the lives of their patients. Having served a previous role with a V.A. outpatient clinic and, most recently, with a V.A. medical center, Cory’s goal is to create a future job where she can broaden services to veterans as well as improve policies and processes.

“The military has provided me many leadership development courses,” says Cory. “However, the lessons learned from this master’s program will make me a more well-rounded leader, capable of handling diverse and challenging issues.”

Nursing Team Was Helpful

Cory says Diana Bantz, associate director for graduate nursing programs, and Shantelle Estes, graduate advisor, were also instrumental in helping her finish her semester before her deployment.

A 17-year veteran of the Indiana Army National Guard, this is Cory’s third deployment. She served in Iraq as a clinical medic in 2005-2006 and in Afghanistan as a line medic in 2011-2012.

At Turning Point, RN Finds Bachelor’s Completion Track

A missed promotion led Alma Ahmetovic to Ball State’s RN-to-BS nursing degree completion program, offered fully online, and a second chance at a job she wanted.

“I liked how well the professors explained the syllabus and course requirements and answered your email right away.”

FINDING THE RIGHT PROGRAM

When Alma Ahmetovic didn’t get promoted to director of nursing at the retirement home where she had worked for 14 years, it was a turning point in the RN’s career.

After conducting a bachelor’s degree search, Ahmetovic ventured into Ball State’s registered nurse to bachelor’s of science in nursing completion track, which is offered fully online.

“I didn’t know what to expect since I had been out of school for a few years and had never taken online classes before.”

FACULTY ADVISORS PROVIDE SUPPORT

Like many students new to the online experience, Ahmetovic was worried about fundamentals such as signing up for classes and submitting assignments and exams. But faculty and online advisors were there to provide support.

“The program was so organized,” she says. “I liked how well the professors explained the syllabus and course requirements and answered your emails right away. I never had to wait longer than a few hours or one day at the most.”

ANOTHER PROMOTION IN SIGHT

Ahmetovic completed her BSN in July of 2014, graduating cum laude.

But before she had even finished the program, the position of director of nursing became available again. To Ahmetovic, an offer of promotion was extended – and accepted. With her eyes on another promotion and at the encouragement of the nursing faculty, she is now pursuing the leadership and administration track of Ball State’s online master’s of science in nursing.

Ahmetovic is now director of health care services and she gives credit to Ball State professors: “I just loved my instructors. They wanted their students to learn, advance, and succeed.”

Nursing Faculty Have Her Respect

Marcie Baird pursued Ball State’s doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) because she knew the professors were masters of the online classroom and fully supportive of students working in the online format.

“I have great respect for the faculty.”

FACULTY MADE ONLINE CLASSROOMS A DRAW

Marcie Baird credits great teaching with drawing her to Ball State’s online doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) program.

“I have great respect for the faculty,” says Baird, who teaches undergraduate nursing at a private university in central Indiana and serves as a nurse practitioner at a community clinic.

Because she had graduated with an online master of science in nursing from Ball State in 2009, Baird knew the quality of the online classroom when she enrolled in the DNP program.

PROFESSORS COULD BE COUNTED ON

“Professors could always be counted on,” says Baird, “to respond on time to assignments and questions.” Video presentations featuring faculty consistently made class content come alive. She also has high regard for the director of the DNP program and her advisor, Beth Kelsey.

“With her guidance, I grew as a student and a professional,” says Baird, noting that she worked with Kelsey on an article for an advanced practice journal that grew out of her DNP capstone project.

CAPSTONE PROJECT IS DNP DISTINCTIVE

Required of all students, the capstone project is the signature of the Ball State DNP and consists of a scholarly plan to improve health outcomes in a healthcare system, clinical practice, or community setting.

Baird pursued her capstone, “Improving HCV Screening in a Free Clinic,” at her community clinic, which serves the uninsured. This project grew out of the faculty-supervised clinicals she performed at the same clinic where she discovered a population increasingly testing positive for Hepatitis C.”

She says the DNP degree has been a boost to her roles as a nursing professor and a nurse practitioner.

“Evidence-based practice is the foundation on which projects were built. Research was woven throughout the whole program,” says Baird. “It also brought a deeper dimension to teaching nursing.”

Christine Davis Completes Dream in RN-to-Bachelor’s-Degree Completion Track

It might not have been the best time for Christine Davis to go back to school.

She was working full time as a diabetes education coordinator. She was about to start a family. And she was balancing church and social activities.

Busy though she was, the bachelor’s in nursing had always been the goal, and it was time to realize the goal.

“People ask me, ‘How did you do it?’ I tell them, ‘I wanted it. It was a dream of mine,’ ” says Davis, who today is nursing professional development educator with IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana.

Ball Memorial is where Davis began her career as a staff nurse immediately after earning her associate degree. When her unit evolved into the diabetes unit, she found her specialty and eventually became a certified diabetes educator.

“I think that’s really when I fell in love with teaching and learning,” says Davis, of her experience in teaching patients with diabetes. Soon she was in pursuit of her bachelor’s through Ball State’s online RN-to-bachelor’s-degree completion track.

Like many students, Davis needed a primer in online education. “It was a little nerve-racking at first,” says Davis. “But professors walked us through all the tools we had at our disposal. For example, they took us to a chat room and showed us how it worked.”

The freedom and flexibility factor is part of the appeal of online programs. But Davis liked the fact that assignment deadlines were identified at the start of classes, even though most of her courses didn’t have specific meeting times.

“I’m an organized person so I liked knowing from the beginning when all my assignments were due,” says Davis.

Davis pursued her degree just one class at a time, giving birth to two sons along the way. By the time her boys started school, she was balancing their school activities, teaching Sunday school, holding offices in a local sorority, and continuing to work full time. Although at one point she had to put her studies on pause, Davis achieved her degree and her dream in 2006.

That same year she began teaching part time in the certified nursing aide program for Ivy Tech Community College. A year later, and after 12 years in diabetes education, she assumed one of Ball Memorial’s nursing professional development educator positions.

In 2010, Davis decided to pursue a master of science in nursing and for her there were no other options than her alma mater. Ball State’s online master’s in nursing is the 11th largest in the country. Because of her interest in teaching, she was able to pursue a leadership track, designed for educators and administrators. And because the program was designed with part timers in mind, Davis, still the full-time mom and still the full-time nurse, is taking one class each semester and on target to finish in three years.

“Ball State cares about high quality education, and it shows—at the undergraduate level and the graduate level,” says Davis.

Davis liked the fact that the bachelor’s program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE) since many employers, including hers, require their nurses to hold degrees from accredited schools.

Davis has become a cheerleader for the bachelor’s completion track. “When people tell me they have an associate degree, I start recruiting,” she says.

Along with several online programs in health and nursing, Ball State offers a number of online programs in business and leadership, communications and technology, and education and counseling.