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The Challenges of Dual Degrees

Aug 30th, 2011 Training

There are two other students who started the dual degree program with me last year.  One is also an FNM student, but she is starting her clinical courses this semester (1 year behind me). The other is women’s health, so she completed her clinical courses over the summer. Honestly, balancing the two programs is starting to be difficult.

The first issue is scheduling conflicts.  All three of us are double booked for at least one time slot, which means we will need to record one class or get the information from a fellow student.  This is partly because the nursing school and the public health school schedule classes very differently, but also because as dual degree students we need to take so many more classes to finish.  So now we are each faced with the weekly challenge of deciding which class is more important to be present for.  Ugh.

The second issue is…scheduling conflicts.  To complete the clinical courses for nursing we need to attend clinical hours. The nursing school schedules classes to allow three days a week for clinical time.  The public health school, having no such requirement, does not.  So this semester I have classes four days a week and still need to work in clinic hours for midwifery and family practice.  This is the reason I needed to stop doing my clinical time at the birth center four hours away – I would simply loose too many hours to travel.

The third issue is thesis writing. We each need to begin work on our thesis, but without the basic public health courses under our belt we are not really ready to start working on the project.  Doing original research is not an option because we have not taken the bio-statistics course (normally taken in the first semester of your first year) yet.

The program directors have learned, and with the group of MSN/MPH students starting this fall they have instituted some changes.  The students will complete their year in residence in public health, then move over to the nursing school.  They still have the option to add in additional public health classes while in residence at the nursing school, but they will have the epi and stats background to make the most of their time in both programs.

I’m glad they made the changes, but I would have done it again the hard way in an instant.  Because my goal is broader than a midwifery practice, I need the additional skills of the MPH training. Besides, I love the classes I am taking.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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