Alex Klacman began her nursing career 15 years ago in the intensive-care unit.
It was a perfect fit: She liked the pace, the pressure, and the autonomy—in the ICU environment, doctors expected nurses to take charge as necessary. “Situations are fluid,” Klacman says. “You have to be able to assess a patient’s situation and make a decision about what’s best for them on the fly—without a physician in the room.”
Klacman, who currently works at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, describes herself as independent and self-directed. “I don’t like other people telling me what to do,” she admits. So when she decided to pursue an advanced degree, Klacman felt that online education was her best option. “One of the things I liked about it was that I wasn’t in a classroom having things passively given to me,” Klacman says. “I wanted to be an active learner. And because of my schedule, I needed the flexibility that online learning offers.”
A Hidden Talent for Teaching
For many years, Klacman had considered becoming a nurse practitioner. But her colleagues often suggested that she had a hidden talent for teaching: Had she ever considered a career in nursing education? When Klacman did eventually encounter some opportunities to educate other nurses, she found that she enjoyed it immensely. “I really liked helping other people learn,” she says. “I loved seeing the light bulbs turn on over their heads.”
Klacman eventually chose to enroll in Capella University’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, specializing in nursing education. “It was very interactive,” Klacman says. “The instructors were responsive and gave great feedback. And there was a robust discussion among the students. The group projects gave me additional experience with adult learning.”
Learning from Her Peers
Klacman also appreciated the diverse perspectives of her fellow classmates. “The other students came from all over the country,” Klacman says, which meant they could talk about health care trends, nursing practices, and cultural issues that didn’t necessarily play a role in nursing in Klacman’s region. Her peers’ wide-ranging perspectives gave Klacman a greater appreciation for different approaches to problems in health care.
Initially, Klacman had some worries about using technology to connect with her instructors and fellow students. In hindsight, however, she never had any difficulty accessing course modules or resources needed for research projects. “I think I called tech support once,” she says. “And the problem was fixed within an hour.”
Hands-On Experience in a Real-World Setting
At the end of Capella’s nursing education program, students are required to participate in a clinical immersion, completing 100 hours of service under supervision by another nurse educator. Klacman got the opportunity to teach parts of a class and to work with students in a simulation lab. “It was a fantastic experience,” Klacman says. “The clinical immersion allowed me to put into practice nearly everything I’d learned in the classroom. It was proof that my degree was useful.”
Klacman completed her MSN in December 2015 and plans to sit for the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) exam soon. “As I’ve been preparing for it, I find that Capella’s program aligns very nicely with the content on the exam,” she says. “Nursing is changing so much, so the need for nurse educators is increasingly critical.”
Klacman also wants to pursue a PhD, and hopes to engage in more research as she advances her career. “There’s a lot to learn, but I think there’s also an incredible opportunity in nursing education to share good ideas with others,” Klacman says. “That will have a bigger impact on health care and patients’ lives than I could ever make alone.”
Learn more about Capella’s online MSN in Nursing Education program.
For a deep dive into all of Capella’s nursing education programs, register to download Nursing Educators: Shaping 21st Century Health Care guide from Capella University.