A lot of you are making some HUGE decisions these next few weeks as you decide whether or not you want to attend Columbia Nursing. I have gotten several emails asking me what I believe are some positives and negatives of the program. But first, I do want to share with you my own opinions. So, please take things with a grain of salt and understand that so many of my peers have different views. Also, I was the FIRST MDE class. If you ask the second MDE cohort (those who are in the MDE right now), they may have different viewpoints as they did make a lot of changes with the curriculum and the program itself since my time (man, I sound old lol). Also, every program has its pros and cons, and I don't have any other program to really compare it to, so do your research to find open and honest thoughts!
As a nice little reference, these were the top 5 reasons why I chose to come to Columbia (I wrote this before I had started the program): http://www.sincerelymeagan.com/single-post/2016/03/25/Top-5-Reasons-Why-I-Chose-Columbia
Also, sorry if what you read in that blog post gets repeated here.
One of the main reasons why I chose Columbia was because I personally didn't want to work as a RN and my main career goal was to become a nurse practitioner as smoothly and quickly as possible. (Although, I will work as a part-time RN during the DNP to make some money and gain some experience). I wanted to get all my schooling out of the way and just work as a NP. So Columbia's MDE/DNP program was perfect for me, and it included that terminal doctorate degree that I found really appealing. Perhaps I would want some type of leadership position, to conduct clinical research, to teach, etc. The DNP would hopefully help prepare me for those opportunities that I want open to me. It was the smoothest way for me to achieve my future career goals. BUT, if you ask some of my peers, the Doctorate is not that necessary.
We have a BRAND NEW nursing school building. We have a lot of fancy equipment in there now which we didn't before. It helps with simulation education so students are better prepared when in the actual hospital. You don't have to pretend to lower the patient bed or to turn on suction, you can actually do all of that in the new simulation lab.
Another thing I love about Columbia is that it is in NYC, public transportation makes going to clinical rotations so much easier. Some programs out there require cars to get to sites, but pretty much all sites Columbia uses are accessible through subway or bus.
The clinical sites are one of my top favorite things about Columbia Nursing. The administration maintains really good relationships with clinical sites and preceptors. Clinical instructors are, for the most part, really amazing teachers and help you become more and more comfortable in the clinical setting. (YES, you will be in the hospital during the FIRST semester you are here in the program). No, you do NOT have to look for clinical placements yourself.
Opportunities to be involved in the local and global community. The MDE year is pretty crazy so it's hard to be actively involved in much other than studying for exams. But there are opportunities such as CoSMO (Columbia Student Medical Outreach) which is in collaboration with med students, public health students, social work, and nursing to provide free, quality care to individuals in our Washington Heights community. There are also ways to get involved in some student orgs. I am currently the VP for Columbia's Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health student org. There are also global opportunities for integration where you spend 6 weeks in another country. If you have questions about this, you can let me know and I can try to get you in touch with someone who did one.
Supportive student body. We support one another and care for one another for the most part. We complain about administration and the curriculum together. It kind of bring us together in a way...all the complaining. LOL. There is also a Peer Mentor Program that students can participate in. Peers from cohorts above mentor those in cohorts below them. It really depends on each relationship, but some can be really helpful for those who are transitioning from West Coast to East Coast, those who really just want academic support, some who want to create a friendship, those who just need someone to lean on for general support, etc.
Some instructors are pretty amazing at teaching and really care for their students! You will meet some professors who take the time to get to know the students and listen to student concerns. The TAs are also very available and willing to help students out.
Some pretty inspirational alumni. Columbia loves bringing Alumni back to our campus to speak and engage with current students. They also help to donate a lot of money for equipment and scholarships for the students. Some alumni have amazing stories to tell and inspire you to really be the best nurse you can be.
Although the simulation is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL, some current MDE students find that some of the required simulation time in the new building to be a little bit of a waste of time? Perhaps its the scenarios with the mannequins that can make it feel like its not as helpful. We have had simulation actors come in and they can serve as amazing tools. But I'm assuming because the school pays for them, they can't be used all the time.
The MDE administration can be kind of difficult to deal with sometimes? I personally haven't had much problem with the MDE staff. ***Disclaimer, these are just my personal accounts of what my peers have told me and have experienced.***
I have heard from students in my cohort as well as the cohort below me that the MDE faculty can be quite unaccommodating for students when it comes to sickness/health issues. And these kinds of issues have caused several students to receive whole grade deductions! (This kind of changes for the DNP, I feel like the DNP faculty treats you very differently and are more lenient in a sense?).
Some students have had that ONNNEEE HORRIBLE interaction with a faculty or staff member and it just dampens their whole outlook on the program.
Some students would say that the staff sometimes lack a level of compassion for the students. But then again, the MDE program is HUGE (over 200 students). It's hard to keep track of and appease EVERYONE.
There are often a lot of last minute changes in scheduling, sometimes the administration would send emails about last minute changes for classes or room changes, etc. etc. Some things are not that big of a deal like a last minute room change, and then others are more annoying. But even with the little things, they happen throughout the MDE and even into the DNP, and it just makes scheduling your own life and scheduling more difficult.
Also, the FNP program has been okay so far, but if you are planning on going into a different specialty, definitely ask around for what some individuals think of those programs. One of my close friends is in the Acute Care program and it sounds a little disoriented as of now, but they are transitioning to have a new program director who apparently is an excellent professor! Hopefully Acute Care is all uphill from here! People in the Adult/Gero Primary Care program seem to enjoy their teeny cohort (of about 10 people), so they get the attention and direction up close and personal. People in the Pediatric NP program sound like they really like it, the courses are tough, but they are managing fine and learning a lot. Not too sure how Psych and Midwifery people are doing! Sorry!! I hear their clinical experiences are great though!
This isn't a horrible negative, just something you have to get used to again especially if you have been out of school for a while...TONS of group work and busy work. I'm not joking... my first semester of MDE, I had about 3 or 4 group chats going on. Whether it was for clinical group, or other random group assignments in other classes. It's hard to keep track of! And also at the same time... all the socializing and mingling the first few weeks of school got me BEAT! The busy work also makes you wonder why you're paying all this money. I mean sometimes they serve a purpose and can be helpful... but other times...
Super expensive. Y'all... this program is COSTLY. No way around it. I have talked to a lot of my peers as well about this... if you are interested in working as a full-time RN, you can definitely find other quality and cheaper programs out there that will grant you that degree that you need (BSN minimum) and help you pass the NCLEX. All jobs really want to know is that you have your RN license, and any accredited program out there can do that for you without slicing up your bank account and vomiting on it. If you are not even sure if you are interested in becoming an advanced practice nurse (NP or CRNA), I would suggest evaluating what your career goals are and whether paying for this program will be worth it to you in the end.
This last negative is more of something you just need to gear up for as you start looking for jobs... Employers sometimes don't understand why there is this Master's prepared RN. They don't understand why we have are obtaining a Master's degree... to practice as a registered nurse. Columbia is a unique program. The MSN here at Columbia stresses care coordination and nursing leadership which are key components to the program. And Columbia has this seamless MSN to DNP... does it hurt people finding jobs as a NP without any RN experience? Not really. Honestly, the job search is all about how active you are in the search, what connections you make, and sometimes, simply timing and luck. Some people in the NP program work as RNs during the program, some have no RN experience at all after finishing the NP program... and in the end, everyone eventually finds some job. It may take others longer, but it'll happen.
People ask me all the time whether or not I "regret" coming to Columbia. And the answer is -- no, not really! I guess you can say I'm a glass half full kind of person (most of the time), and I really do try to stay optimistic and look at the brighter side of things. But then again, I am me. Everyone has certain expectations, or have a strong opinion or desire about some things.
So I know this post was EXTREMELY LONG. If you made it to the end... CONGRATS! I really do hope this post helps in your decisions. Remember that you should really weigh in what is most important for you and your future career. Ask lots of questions, and visit the campus! VISITING DAY is coming soon next month and could really be a make it or break it for some. Every school has its own vibe.
Feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly for any other additional questions or comments. If you're a current student and would like to also highlight something or disagree/point out a different viewpoint, please feel free to comment here as well so the public can view it!
I may update this post in the upcoming weeks as I have asked several students pros and cons of the program and those have been slowly trickling in. THANK YOU to my peers who have contributed!