After earning his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Miami University in 2022, Ben Flinders is continuing on at Miami to pursue an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization.
Below, Flinders shares some of his experience so far in Miami’s graduate school, how he’s finding mentorship in his online program, and why he calls Miami “the place to be” for nursing education.
What life experiences do you feel have led you to pursue nursing?I have a lot of nurses in my family. My mom was a nurse. My aunt was a nurse. And so I've seen their experiences since I was a kid. My mom working second shift, picking up shifts and coming home in scrubs, all that kind of stuff. I got to experience that firsthand. I saw the impact that she had on people's lives and also family members going through different kinds of health complications and seeing what nurses did for them. And also, I was going through school, seeing how the things I've learned applied to them – that impacted me in a way where I wanted to keep pursuing my education here at Miami and keep down the nursing track.
When you first started out as an undergraduate at Miami, did you know you wanted to do nursing right away?I didn't know that I wanted to be a nurse until halfway through the [undergraduate] nursing program. I was going to school in the middle of COVID. So the first two years I was in-person and then right before we were supposed to start clinical in-person, we got sent home for COVID. So I didn't get to be in-person in the hospital. And I kind of had a little bit of a crisis, like, “What if I don't like this?” But by the time we got to do in-person clinicals the following semester, it kind of clicked. I was like, “This is definitely what I want to do.”
How did you know?The atmosphere just felt right and everything kind of clicked at once. I knew that I wanted to do something that helped people, and I didn't know in what realm I wanted to do that. But when I saw the impact that I had on people's lives doing nursing, it just felt right.
How would you describe the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program?It's a master's program that prepares you for the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) track. It prepares you to take the certification – your boards – and then you take your boards at the end of the program. If you pass that, then you can be a Family Nurse Practitioner which is who you would see in like, an outpatient clinic, or where you'd go to get your sports physical, or your flu shot, things of that nature. That's kind of their realm – they work in urgent cares and things of that nature.
Why did you choose this specialization?I chose the FNP track because I know that I want to work in the patient population. I do want to eventually go on to be a professor, but regarding my actual practice, I wanted to still work with patients. So FNP felt like the right track for me.
Is it all online?For the most part. All the classes are offered online and the faculty at Miami are amazing. That's why I chose to come back. They will record themselves doing presentations or record different media for you to help study along with, but all the classes are offered online other than clinicals. You do those in person, of course.
Where do you see yourself after graduation?I would like to work part-time as a family nurse practitioner in the outpatient world. I would like to work in either a private practice setting or in an urgent care. I would probably prefer a private practice just because that's always where I've seen myself. The good thing about the FNP track is that you can work with anyone from basically birth to geriatric, so I don't know where exactly I see myself but I know that I'm going to be helping someone.
What do you feel that your program does well?I would say probably the thing they do best is working with the students to accommodate whatever the students really need, like any struggles or difficulties that they're going through. They've been fantastic about adjusting and adapting to our needs so that we can get the best education we possibly can. That goes for the professors, the advisors, all of them are fantastic. The course setup really makes sense. And everything's being taught in a way that it's really easy to soak it all in before you get on to the clinical work.
How does this online master’s program support a community feel?There's a lot of discussion boards and virtual discussions that we do. You get to see the faces and hear the voices of all the people that you're doing different research projects and stuff like that with, so I know the names, I know the faces, I know what they do.
What does mentorship look like in this program?With the way that the clinicals are set up, you’ll always have a preceptor and then they'll kind of guide you through the practice part of things outside of the education aspect. But then when you're within the classroom, the professors are really good. I've met with multiple of my professors already going through the program. They're fantastic about communicating with the students.
What kind of knowledge and experience do you feel that you are gaining from your graduate program?In the FNP track, it's been really good because you get that more narrow understanding of things. They take all those broad components that you learned in undergrad and give rationale behind why you're doing the actions that you're doing. So it's been really good because it prepares you. Like, for me, when I'm practicing as a nurse, I'll learn something the previous week and then sure enough, it comes up in my practice the upcoming week. So it gives you a better understanding of what you're seeing in practice and it prepares you for when you have to use your clinical judgment to prescribe and diagnose as an FNP.
Let's say you met a prospective student who was thinking of doing a similar program to yours, but wasn't sure if Miami was right for them. How would you advise them?
I would say follow what they think is best, but I can say that Miami has probably the best faculty you're going to come across. It's very rare that you have a set of professionals that will talk to you on a one-to-one basis. You're on a first name basis with a lot of these individuals. They're super open, and they treat you as more than just a student. It feels like they really care for your concerns. It's hard to find that at every university. So I would say Miami is the place to be.
Visit our Master's of Nursing website to learn more about the program.