Never stop learning. That's a piece of advice Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) student Julie delCasino has taken to heart.
"Nursing is a profession," she said. "I want to always be moving toward the next goal."
Julie earned her BS in Nursing from East Carolina University in 1984. She's due to graduate Queens in December with her MSN in Health Systems Management.
During her undergrad years her professors always told her, "You are not finished with your education. Learning never stops. Strive to gain more knowledge," she recalled. "It was always in my mind to obtain my MSN."
Julie, a magnet program manager who coordinates education, credentialing, and nurse and patient satisfaction for Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, is passionate not only about patient care but also nursing research, evidence-based practice, and teaching her colleagues and patients.
In 2012, she was voted Health Systems Nurse of the Year by the North Carolina Nurses Association. According to Julie, the honor simply underlined the rewarding nature of nursing. "It fills my heart when patients thank me for the care and concern I have showed them. Their appreciation keeps me going."
Along with Julie's appreciation for the study of nursing, her "professionalism, enthusiasm, service and involvement in a variety of professional nursing organizations," are major assets in the classroom, said Dr. Janie Best. It is evident Julie is eager to pass along her knowledge and passion to others, including her own children. Joseph, 25, is an emergency department RN, and Lindsey, who earned her CNA from Queens, is studying nursing while working part time in the mother-baby unit.
"It sounds cliché," she said, but helping people was what drew her to nursing in the first place. "That makes me happy. I care about what happens to people and I wanted my knowledge to make a difference."
At Queens her research has focused on the correlation between direct care nurses' participation in shared governance and nurse satisfaction and engagement. "Every professor I've had has taught me a tremendous amount. I've learned a great deal and grown as a professional at Queens.
"Queens' MSN program provides a well-rounded education including organizational management, healthcare policy, law and ethics, economics and fiscal management. I truly think differently today because of my graduate education."
- Julie delCasino
"In addition to the nursing classes, the MSN provides a well-rounded education including organizational management, healthcare policy, law and ethics, economics and fiscal management," she said. "I truly think differently today because of my graduate education."
Nevertheless, for Julie it all comes back to the human interaction. Asked to share a positive outcome from her 28 years as a nurse, she recalls caring for many premature infants and their parents while a direct care nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). One boy, born at 25 weeks, weighed less than two pounds. "He was pale pink and fighting hard to breathe on his own," but after four months of care he was able to go home.
She stayed in touch with the family but they moved away when the boy was four. Many years later, as Julie was helping a family find a patient's room, she realized she was talking to that "long lost" family. No longer pale and struggling for breath, the boy was now 16. "They all hugged me and thanked me again for our great care and compassion. My heart was so full. That is why I became a nurse."