May 7, 2018

My FlexPath Journey With Capella University

Disclaimer: I’m an actual Capella student compensated for posting about my experience at Capella. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Nursing & Business

May starts a new chapter in my educational journey. On May 5th, I graduated with a Master of Science in Nursing degree. Today, May 7th, I will be starting my Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Capella University through their self-paced, online format called FlexPath. When I started graduate school to become a nurse practitioner, my first clinical rotation was with a fantastic pediatrician (Fall, 2015). She and I have become friends, and she even cares for my son. I learned so much from that clinical rotation. From hand, foot, and mouth disease to managing an asthma exacerbation, I learned all the typical medical problems children could face in their development. One day while I was reading up on skin infections in the pediatric population, and my preceptor said, "You need your MBA. You have no idea how hard it is to be a healthcare provider and lack business fundamentals." At the time I thought she was crazy. Who would want to do that? How did that relate to healthcare?

Well, it wasn't until a few months ago when I realized she was right. I was in my emergency department clinical rotation (Fall 2017), and my preceptor was explaining how budgets, resources, and management factored into her providing healthcare. All the stuff I initially thought was irrelevant were now integral pieces of me practicing as an advanced practice nurse. From fiscal obligations to team organization, my preceptor showed me all the non-medical related matters she was expected to manage or work within. When I self-reflected on this information, I found myself lacking the ability to understand specific business concepts and felt that a business degree would help me in that regard.

Getting an MBA isn't about having more credentials, it's about elevating my knowledge base in order to help my organization. For example, my husband is a manager. He has even done that Six Sigma thingy. He's a smart cookie. I'm an intensive care nurse. I know inpatient healthcare. But when my husband sits down and talks to me about return on investment, capitalization factor, gross profit versus net profit... I'd get lost. I don't know anything about business. I thought that wasn't a big deal until I went to a clinical rotation and heard my preceptor explaining these very concepts and how they factored into how she cared for individuals. Have you ever heard of the RVU Compensation Model? I sure hadn't, but it's how some organizations pay healthcare providers. How can I lead a team toward being productive and financially responsible, if I have no idea how to do that? Healthcare is about people helping people. But in order to do that, you must have a solid foundation of resources and business. They go hand in hand. And in my opinion, having an advanced practice nursing degree and a business degree will get me there.

I am ready to enter this new chapter in my life. Business is a whole new world for me (did the Aladdin song, "A whole new world," start playing in your head too?).  I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. But it's a good excitement. I'm going to learn what is needed to operate a business and what skills are necessary to manage a team of individuals. It's different, but it's similar. Nursing is all about management diseases. Now, I will be studying how to manage the people who manage the disease. My husband told me this one day, and it blew my mind, "Employees worry about this week. Managers worry about this month. District managers worry about the next few months. The higher you go, the more expanded the view gets. It's not about who is smarter. It's about who can see the bigger view and work toward the appropriate goals." I want to expand my view, and I feel Capella’s MBA FlexPath program will get me there.

Planning My Education

I've been doing online educational programs for about seven years now. I know what I need in order to be successful and I know what I need from a school. I need an accredited school, that is organized and that can offer me courses on my time. When I was studying as an undergraduate I would pick classes based on one thing, "Will this work for me?" There isn't a point in registering for a course you won't be able to attend (physically or online) because of your work schedule or other responsibilities. I use that same viewpoint in picking schools and classes. Does this school understand what I need and who I am? I'm a wife and mother with a full-time job, I can't be expected to chat daily for attendance purposes. I don't need a bunch of filler assignments that don't count as a grade. I'm a grown adult, and I want to be treated like one. It took me some time, but I eventually found a school that meets those requirements through Capella and their excellent FlethPath learning format.

Why FlexPath?

No Fluff, All Business
FlexPath has competency-based approaches but removes pre-set deadlines and weekly discussions. You're evaluated by how well you demonstrate competencies, not by how long it takes you to learn them. Who doesn't love that? I wish all schools did this.

Set Your Own Deadlines 
You'll work with your FlexPath coach to complete a personal course completion plan, setting your own deadlines to complete each assessment. This is great because I work nights/weekends and have a special needs son so, I need to custom plan.

Real World Assessments 
You can demonstrate competencies by applying your knowledge to everyday, professional situations like case studies, research papers, or presentations. You ever complete an assignment and know you'll never revisit the information you've learned? Not here.

Faculty Feedback 
Submit your completed assessment to a faculty member and receive prompt feedback. You can use this feedback to revise your work and resubmit up to three times. That's one thing I wish ALL schools offered. How can a person truly improve without feedback?

I am beyond excited to start my education at Capella University, and I hope you follow my MBA FlexPath journey through my monthly posts and updates. I hope you, yourself, grow your knowledge base when you're ready in whatever courses or classes you feel will help you to reach your professional goals. Thank you for reading and let's do this!

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