Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grad school research

July 30th

Today I worked at the CSPS for the first time in a while. Major had told me that Sali was at a formation and Belem was all alone, so I decided to do the nice thing (since I really truly had nothing else to do besides read) and went to help her. It went pretty well, actually, we worked out a good system and got through all 27 women plus a few random extras by noon. I ended up not going back out in the afternoon, but I did do some GRE practice and weeded my garden.

In awesome news, I've been doing some more research on my school choices. I had printed out the sample curriculum lists from UCSF, BC, and MGH, but didn't really see much of a difference between them until I wrote them out side by side and tried to find equivalencies. Suddenly I could see huge differences! BC, which up until now looked pretty promising, is probably out of the race at this point. The program is only 19 classes (although it does require more pre-req classes) and jumps right into clinical, but overall seems very thin, more of an overview or a certificate that I would want to get if I was already a nurse rather than a program to train a bachelor’s-holding student into an advanced practice nurse. The big plus of BC the fact that it's only 2 years instead of 3, the tuition is about the same as other places but I'd only be paying rent and such for a shorter time.

UCSF was far and away the most extensive program, with 42 classes plus clinical rotations every quarter for the last 2 years. It breaks down a lot of the material into separate classes, in theory allowing us to go into more detail. The focus is heavy on ante-, intra-, and postpartum rather than general adult and women's health, but I think it would allow me to get a feel for both and would certainly open up the door to both roads if I should decide that I truly am in love with a job as a midwife. I feel like this program would satisfy my curiosity and desire to learn in a way that no other program would, it includes rotations through most of the major specialties, so I'd get a taste of surgery, pediatrics, ICU, geriatrics, etc. UCSF also runs several clinics and outreach programs around the Bay area that just look fantastic. There are a handful of unique classes, like one focusing on rural health care. Plus I would get to be in San Francisco! The downside is the lack of any overt alternative/complimentary medical component (besides the midwifery commitment to seeing birth as an innately healthy and natural process to be supported instead of a problem to be managed medically), but I'm sure I could dig something up in the area. Interestingly there isn't an ethics class listed as a requirement, but the syllabus on the website could be old, like their course pricing. Even with my estimates of the raised pricing the program is still the same cost as the others, making this one hands down the best value for the money, if at the same time the busiest, most time consuming program.

MGH was right in the middle. It's a decent sized program – 29 courses with clinical rotations, 3 years long but only Fall/Spring instead of UCSF's all year long. It has many of the same courses as UCSF but skips the pregnancy and birthing ones that make up so much of the curriculum, instead focusing on Adult and Women's health courses, with several classes on ethics and issues in nursing. While it would pigeon-hole me into only having the option of being a WHNP, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing to directly pursue what I currently think is what I want. MGH is the only program that confers both a BSN and MSN, plus it has a Mind/Body/Spirit certificate that I could add on to the end, Boston is apparently known for their acceptance of complimentary medicine. It remains to be seen if I could tack it on to the end of a degree at UCSF. The downside is that it's in Boston, which most everyone I've talked to seems to think is a terrible place to live. I'm sure I'd be just fine for 3 years, but I do really love the idea of living in San Fran. And while the program seems newer and more flexible to student demands and interests, it doesn't have the reputation, recognition, or alum connections that UCSF does, I believe the institution is only 30 years old compared to well over 100. While name certainly isn't everything, there are, unfortunately, plenty of situations where coming from the 'right' school can help a lot.

Since I feel silly applying to just 2 schools, I pulled out my old list and started going back through it to identify a few more contenders. Salem State and Columbia University seem to be at least mildly promising, and I tossed in Ohio State College since I could remember why I'd eliminated it so early on, and it might be nice to not have to not have to move as far. Several schools got the definitive ax, whether it was due to location, program length (anything under 2 years or over 3.5), or weird pre-reqs (come on, I'm not going to take 9 classes before I apply, you should teach me pharmacology and abnormal psychology).

Overall I'm super excited about the future. It's a shame that the applications are so far apart, I'll have to reply to UCSF before I hear from MGH, but I think I'd be ok with that. Visiting might change my mind (I should have asked if there was some kind of tour at UCSF) but for now I think going for the bigger program seems like the best bet. It might over qualify me for some jobs, but I tend to think that it's better to be overqualified than having to go back to school again at a later date.

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