1. Janiec, Helen Pallares

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Pursuing Educational Dreams

By Helen Pallares Janiec, MSN, RN

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The idea of returning to college as an older student filled me with overwhelming anxiety. Many years ago, family and friends encouraged me to continue my education, but other competing life events were a priority. Having recently been placed in an advanced specialist role, I found myself unfamiliar with leadership lingo, lacking in research skills, and needing to improve communication techniques. One Sunday, our pastor spoke of using our God-given talents to benefit others. A spark of encouragement overwhelmed me. I began to ask myself, How can I serve my patients better and contribute to moving the nursing profession forward? During this searching and decision-making period, I believed I could resonate with Florence Nightingale's well-known statement about her calling to nursing, which she wrote in her diary at age 17: "God spoke to me and called me to His service" (1990). I had that same sense of God's calling, that propelled me on.


Later that month, I started the graduate school application process and was accepted. During the next 2.5 years of study for a master's degree, I felt continually God was guiding me. There were times when I felt I was down for the count! But somehow, I would find clarity and resiliency through daily prayer, Scripture reading, and the encouraging words of Henri Nouwen, whose writings became part of my weekly readings. One statement of Nouwen's stands out to me: "Be sure that you make a difference in the world" (Tippins, 1994). I was fortunate to be able to interweave my Christian values with academics.


There were unexpected benefits of this period of learning. As an older student, I shared my experiences with a younger generation of students. I recall one time that I encouraged an undergraduate nursing student to strive continually to meet each patient individually at his/her point in life, to see human potential, and to refrain from judgment.


During graduate school, I developed an interest in the 12 guiding principles of servant leadership popularized by Robert Greenleaf (2002). This leadership model has given me an important foundation in teamwork cooperation, improved self-confidence, foresight, and a commitment to self-discovery. It also has enhanced my understanding of humility as an essential element in valuing others' opinions and keeping an open perspective. I'm thankful I joined InterVarsity's Nurses Christian Fellowship during the graduate program, as it has given me a guided process by which to help assess and care for the spiritual needs of my patients.


In May 2016, I graduated with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. The process challenged me to see that there are many perspectives to problems and often no right answer. However, the rewards are plentiful. For example, I was privileged to share a hospital research project presentation in London in August 2016, at an international nursing conference.


I encourage fellow nurses to pursue their dreams of continuing their education to gain a better understanding of the world, professionally and personally. As I learned, we are meant by God to bless others with our abilities, as stated in 1 Peter 4:10. "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms" (NIV). Only by God's grace, prayer, and visualizing Jesus encouraging me through some tough situations was I able to earn this degree.


Resources for Graduate Nursing Education

Here's a few ideas to get you started on funding resources for grad school:


* Health Resources & Services Administration-


* Bureau of Health Workforce-


* National Health Service Corp-


* Army Nurse Corp-




* Professional Nursing Organizations-many offer scholarships!


* Universities and Nursing Schools-most offer scholarships and grant programs




Greenleaf R. (2002). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness, 25th anniversary edition. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press. [Context Link]


Nightingale F. (1990). Ever yours, Florence Nightingale: Selected letters (M. Vicinus & N. Bea, eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard.


Tippins D. (1994). Loneliness and community: An interview with Henri Nouwen (Mar-Aug 1994). Retrieved from[Context Link]