Southern Nursing Student Spotlight: Julie McKinney

BSN to DNP with a dual emphasis in Lifestyle Medicine and Family PracticeJulie McKinney
Class of 2020

Of the many nursing programs available, what made you choose Southern’s?

Julie earned her associate degree at Southern, so she knew already that high-quality education and Christian values were qualities that aligned with her goals. She also happened to be a Seventh-day Adventist, so she felt right at home.

“My experience was very positive,” Julie explained, "So when it came time to earn a graduate degree, I knew Southern was a great choice.”

In doing her research, Julie loved Southern’s curriculum and the unique tracks offered, which she knew would help her become a better nurse and achieve her career goals.

How did the faculty help you understand the material and overcome the challenges along the way?

The small classroom sizes and intimate setting helped Julie build relationships, connect with her professors, and lean on them when things got tough.

“Each of them was very invested in me,” she explained.

At one point, Julie had just moved into a new community, was working full-time on the night shift, and was taking challenging courses for her dual emphasis. “I got so burned out,” she explained. “It was just a terrible situation; I literally almost gave up. I stopped turning in assignments."

Luckily for her, one of the teachers saw that she was having a hard time and reached out to offer a helping hand. “It was pivotal in helping me get back on track,” said Julie.

Did you work while pursuing your advanced nursing degree? If so, what was that like and how did Southern’s program accommodate you?

Julie was working full-time on the night shift as a nurse in the intensive care unit (ICU). While her busy schedule certainly brought challenges, Julie remarked that the consistent, predictable class schedule made it very easy to plan her work schedule around it.

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How did your nursing education at Southern enhance your nursing skills, whether in direct patient care, administration, or education?

Julie explained that enrolling in Southern’s program helped her learn the skills needed to elevate from being a nurse to being an advanced practice nurse.

“You’re not going to know everything when you graduate, and that’s okay, but you’ll be set up with the advanced knowledge to serve your patients and find the resources you’ll need,” said Julie.

MSN vs. DNP: Two Paths to Becoming an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

What was your favorite nursing class, and why?

Julie’s favorite course was Health Coaching. She really enjoyed learning how to listen to patients, understand their challenges, and help them live healthy lifestyles.

She explained how she and her classmates practiced these skills together, which was a great way to sharpen their abilities and also learn more about each other.

“We made connections and practiced health coaching with each other, which helped us manage the stress that came with being in an intensive graduate-level program,” said Julie. “That course really fostered connection as well as giving very practical, excellent skills as a practitioner.”

If someone reading this were on the fence about applying for Southern's program, what would you tell them?

“The professors truly want you to succeed and do well and be the best possible advanced practice nurse in whatever track you choose,” said Julie. “They’re genuine, transparent, and want to work together to make a difference.”

Today, Julie is earning a post-doctorate certification in psychiatric mental health to supplement the care that she delivers to patients.

Want to become the next nursing success story from Southern Adventist University? Explore our advanced nursing degree programs, or schedule a meeting with a Southern representative to talk about your opportunities.

About the Author

Southern Adventist University

Southern Adventist University

Southern Adventist University is a private Seventh-day Adventist college in Collegedale, Tennessee. Our practical graduate programs equip you with in-demand skills and experience that transfer directly into your career path. We hope to help you accomplish your dreams!

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