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First Student Pursues Master’s in Nursing Online

Janelle Shank

Janelle Shank, the first student to enroll in Georgetown's online master's degree program in nursing, says she enjoys the "face-to-face" sessions where she meets with classmates and professors virtually.

July 11, 2011 – When Janelle Shank (G’12) sent in her deposit to Georgetown this past February, she became the first student to enroll in the university’s first-ever online degree program.

Shank, a full-time nurse in a Level 1 trauma unit near Phoenix, Ariz., says her lifelong interest in nursing prompted her to apply to the School of Nursing & Health Studies’ new online master’s program.

“My interest in nursing began at a young age and was largely influenced by my grandmother who was a nurse – and still is at age 76,” Shank explains.

High Praise

Although going back to school while working full time hasn’t been easy, Shank has high praise for Georgetown’s faculty and staff, who she says guided her through the application process.

“Everyone from the admissions counselors to student and tech support to the professors and the staff at Georgetown has been so helpful,” said Shank. “Everyone is committed to making this program a success for the student.”

A Personal Touch

Shank noted that one of her favorite aspects of Georgetown’s program is the “face-to-face” sessions, in which she and other students meet with their classmates and professors virtually.

These sessions allow all the students to simultaneously see and speak with each other and their professors on their own computers.

While she originally feared an online program would include “endless discussion boards to post, irrelevant readings to sift through and impersonal instructors” she found the program to be “very personal largely because of the small class sizes and the opportunity to connect with the professors each week.”

Jeanne Matthews, who chairs the Department of Nursing, said NHS launched the online initiative to “extend our school’s mission nationally and make an even greater impact on health and health care.”  Approximately 50 students are now enrolled in the program.

“Through dynamic technology, we’ve been able to foster a strong relationship between students and faculty members, as well as among the student body itself,” she added. “It’s been great to watch our longstanding campus-based programs thrive in this new medium.”

Classmate Connections

Even with the remote aspects of the program, Shank has been able to connect with classmates online and in person.

“One of my classmates lives about 45 minutes away from me, so we were able to do a project together in person, and when I go to Georgetown for the on-campus intensive weekend, there are a few of us who are rooming together so it will give us an opportunity to get to know each other,” Shank said.

Influencing Health CarE

Shank considered moving to the East Coast to pursue a master’s degree, but found the program at Georgetown gave her the opportunity to earn a high-quality degree while continuing her career path.

“I love working with the health care team and in patient care, but I also love science and increasing my knowledge,” Shank said.  “I realized if I want to have more influence on patient care I should increase my education."

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