Carey Savoie is working on a hat trick.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2013 and a Master of Science in Nursing in Nursing Administration in 2017, both of which she earned online, Savoie is earning her third degree from UTA in the Doctor of Nursing Practice online program. She is the first person in her immediate family to earn a master's degree.
"Going back to school was about a personal goal and professional development," Savoie said. "I always wanted to have a higher level of education. As a nurse, I know learning is part of my profession. Being a nurse leader, I have to have education to grow in my role. That was the driving factor of why I went back."
Savoie has been nurse director at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center for nearly nine years, and she has worked at that same hospital in her hometown of Temple, Texas, since 2007. After starting as a registered nurse, she moved up to nurse manager.
However, nursing is a second career for Savoie. She had a job in human resources before becoming a stay-at-home mom while her children — Meghan (26), Savannah (22) and Ty (20) — were young. As they got older, Savoie was eager to rejoin the workforce with a new occupation.
"I decided I needed to go back to school and started thinking about what I really wanted to do," she said. "I found that I was very pulled to health-type channels. I've always taken care of people. I thought, 'Why don't I just do that? I'm good at it.' That brought me to nursing, which was probably the best decision I ever made."
Because Savoie knew what to expect from the UTA online nursing programs, she returned for the online MSN in Nursing Administration a couple of years after graduating from the BSN program.
"UTA has a partnership with my employer, and there was a lot of information on site where I work," she said. "The most appealing thing about the MSN program was the accelerated format. One class at a time with five-week courses felt doable."
The online format is especially appealing to Savoie with all that she has going on in her busy life. In addition to family time with her children and husband, Kevin, she always has a lot on her plate at work.
"The online programs are very manageable," she said. "That was another deciding factor for doing an online format. Because I was already working 45 hours a week, going somewhere for school was going to be next to impossible. I like the online programs and they are easy to use."
In the MSN in Nursing Administration, Savoie especially enjoyed the courses that involved leadership skills, development, finance, budgeting and strategic planning.
"Those are the ones that applied most to my current role," she said. "I also enjoyed [NURS 5302:] Curriculum Development and Evaluation. I had not experienced that before. Learning about the education side — as a nurse, you're an educator, but maybe not so much in that role of developing a curriculum — it was very interesting."
Savoie didn't miss a beat after completing the online MSN program, riding the momentum into the doctoral program.
"About three-fourths of the way through the master's degree program, I decided I was going to roll with the DNP," she said. "I took a semester off and continued so I could finish."
In the DNP program, Savoie has especially enjoyed the NURS 6321: Epidemiology, NURS 6302: Population Health and NURS 6320: Leadership in Healthcare Systems courses.
"Right now, I'm in [NURS 6323:] Evidence Appraisal, which is going through literature and re-learning how to analyze research to apply evidence-based practice," she said. "That's a DNP's role, eventually."
The nursing faculty is another reason Savoie keeps circling back to UTA online.
"They're always quick to respond," she said. "I get good feedback on assignments, which is always important. I love that because you want to know what they think."
When Savoie graduates from the online DNP program in 2020, she will have completed an education that will nicely complement her valuable real-world experience. She believes it will help her achieve her career goal of becoming a chief nursing officer.
"When you are looking at executive-level positons, a master's degree is the minimum," she said. "If I want to progress in my career and take it to the next level, it's a mandatory thing."
Savoie, who enjoys throwing pottery and playing acoustic guitar, credits her family and friends with helping her through the three degree programs at UTA.
"They are excited but probably more surprised," she said. "They are supportive and encouraging — especially now that I'm in the doctorate program and it's the last one.
"I went to the hooding ceremony for the master's degree, but I didn't walk in the commencement ceremony. I plan to do the whole thing for the DNP."
With so much experience in the online UTA nursing programs, Savoie has recommended them to her colleagues. In fact, two of them have already joined her in the online DNP program.
"You have to be prepared for the time commitment," she said. "I have talked to a lot of people about the programs. My advice is always, 'Just do it.' There's a fear of going back to school, but it's probably worse than actually doing it. Jump in."
Learn more about Doctor of Nursing Practice Online.
- What to Expect in an Online DNP Program
- Why Should You Get a DNP?
- The Difference Between a Ph.D. and a DNP
- Job Options for a DNP Graduate
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