Rachel Carmichael shares her experience as a student in Baylor's Online DNP-FNP program in this short video.
Recorded during FNP Immersion on campus at Baylor University in June 2019.
Read the full student testimonial transcript below.
Full Video Transcript
00:00 Interviewer: Tell us your name, program, and expected graduation date.
00:04 Rachel Carmichael: My name is Rachel Carmichael, I am in the DNP Family Nurse Practitioner Program, and expected graduation date is December of 2021.
00:16 Interviewer: What's your favorite part about being a nurse?
00:19 Rachel Carmichael: Oh man. I would say my favorite part of being a nurse is the fact that I get to couple ministry with medicine. As a follower of Christ, I felt called to missions a lot... At a lot younger age than I felt called to nursing, and so, missions has always been heavy on my heart. And so, the reason I feel like I was called in to nursing was to be able to take care of people first, and then... And to share the hope of the Gospel, and to offer them hope in the midst of some of life's hardest moments.
00:57 Interviewer: When and why did you decide to become a nurse practitioner?
01:02 Rachel Carmichael: That's a great question. So I was interested in becoming a nurse practitioner in college. And then, just kind of put it on the back burner. But my dad is in medicine, he's a physician. And so, the idea of being a provider had always been in the back of my mind, but I would say after moving to Dallas, I came here for a church leadership residency program, that was a year-long seminary. And once I finished that, the Lord just made it really clear that he wanted me to go back to school, to be more equipped for ministry, both here and overseas. And the way to do that was through nurse practitioner.
01:51 Interviewer: Tell us what first attracted you to Baylor University.
01:56 Rachel Carmichael: Just how mission-minded they are. I was serving at a not-for-profit urgent care clinic here in town with one of the DNP students at the time, and had talked with her about different programs, and she highly recommended Baylor because of just how mission-minded they are, as a program, and not just preparing nurse practitioners for the physiologic role that they will play as a provider, but holistically training up providers to... In leadership, in policy change, and really preparing nurse practitioners for the entire role that they will face when they're out in practice.
02:45 Interviewer: How did you know that Baylor's nursing program was the right fit for you, and did the online aspect help?
02:55 Rachel Carmichael: So I knew that Baylor was the right fit for me just, again, because I felt like visions aligned with the type of equipping and training that I wanted to receive. I talked with my dad a lot about it, him going to medical school, he would tell me just how important it was, the training that you'd receive. And so, I specifically wanted to do the Doctorate Program because I love the fact that there's more clinical hours, I mean there's more training and the option to teach in the future, and to have that option open. And then, the fact that Baylor had an online program was extremely attractive, because I work full-time and I also serve, and so, it would be very difficult to go to classes day in and day out, so I was very thankful for the online opportunity.
03:49 Interviewer: How do you balance your work schedule, online coursework, and all of your personal obligations?
03:57 Rachel Carmichael: I had to do a really honest heart-check of what was negotiable and what was a non-negotiable, and very... Within the first semester, and it was very painful as someone who loves to say, "Yes" to everything. But then, when I realized truly what was non-negotiable in my life, and the buckets that I knew I needed to spend my time in, then it just became very clear and there were only a few left, which was ministry, school, and work. And so, I would say I still allow myself every now and then time with friends, but I know that, for these few years, I have purposely set aside time to be able to train and to be equipped, and so, that is my biggest priority.
05:00 Interviewer: How has working with a Student Support Advisor, Christine, impacted your educational experience?
05:06 Rachel Carmichael: Oh, it's been great, because to be able to have someone who is a touch point, who is checking in throughout the semester. Well, at this point I haven't necessarily needed... Reached out to Christine on my own, for... Or any questions, at the same time having her follow up, and ask questions, and be a resource has been incredibly encouraging. And so, I would say it's been very helpful.
05:36 Interviewer: What has been your experience with clinical placement?
05:41 Rachel Carmichael: It's been good so far. I've been blessed to... During the seminary program, I was working at a not-for-profit urgent care clinic run by the church, that was part of my seminary training, learning how to do a ministry that is through medicine. And so, I made a lot of contacts there, and I was very blessed to be able to have people that knew that I would be going into Family Nurse Practitioner that offered to precept to me. And so, thankfully, at least at this point, it has not been too difficult.
06:20 Interviewer: What is your advice for potential students, considering enrolling in the program?
06:26 Rachel Carmichael: I would say, to think long and hard about it. It is an incredibly rewarding program, but it is also incredibly difficult. As it should be, because as Dr. Shari, and another student, and I were talking earlier, Dr. Shari made a great point that nurse practitioner is an incredible role, but it is not for everyone. And so, thinking long and hard about it, and then thinking about the reasons why. If it's just about money, or just status, I wouldn't say it's a great fit, but I would say if it's truly because you have a heart to take care of people, to advance the profession of nursing as a whole, and to be able to make a greater impact, then it's a great opportunity.
07:22 Interviewer: What are your expectations from your educational experience at Baylor?
07:27 Rachel Carmichael: My expectations? That things would be done with excellence, because working for Baylor Healthcare System, I expect the same. I grew up hearing the Baylor name even all the way in Florida. And so, I would say just expecting that excellence to be carried over into the program. Anything with Baylor's name behind it.
07:52 Interviewer: Are you satisfied with the amount of individual faculty attention that you've received thus far?
07:57 Rachel Carmichael: Definitely. I would say, there are definitely moments that have been harder than others, but for the most part, faculty has been very accessible and has been incredibly helpful, and I would say very for me, and the other students that I've talked with, very for us moving forward in the program.
08:23 Interviewer: Did you find the faculty accessible, responsive, and supportive?
08:26 Rachel Carmichael: Yes, definitely.
08:30 Interviewer: What are your future career plans and how do you plan to achieve them?
08:35 Rachel Carmichael: Oh, that's a fun question. So my dad is a cardiovascular surgeon. I grew up in a medical mission household, he's been doing ministry with my mom in China for 30 years. And so, what that looked like growing up was Chinese physicians living in our home for 3-6 months out of the year, and then going back to China, and taking the model that they learned from my dad, and actually applying it over there. And then, my family would go over for two weeks out of the year. My dad would work with their instrumentation, train them, and then come back. And so, I saw that modeled really well from a young age, with my first trip to China being when I was nine. And so, ever since then I've had a very big heart for China, from a totally non-medical standpoint. And then, as I became a nurse and advanced in my career, I've had the opportunity to train now the nurses, 'cause my specialty is in cardiovascular intensive care, and so, to be able to train the nurses over there and work alongside my dad has been such an incredible privilege, while also still sharing the hope that Christ has given me.
09:42 Rachel Carmichael: And so, long-term, the path is a little unclear, but I know that... I see this as seminary training, I see it just as another way to be more equipped to do ministry, and while it may not be at DTS, it's at Baylor, it's still a way to do ministry. And so, long-term, I'm interested in potentially something with cardiology, or something with primary or urgent care, because right now in China there is almost... I know of one or two clinics in all of China and Mongolia for primary and urgent care, and so, a lot of patients are passing away of things that could be very easily preventable, and that is a big passion of mine. To not only make healthcare more accessible, but also, you can't openly proselytize in China, and so to use medicine as a way, leverage for the Gospel, to be able to continue to spread the Gospel throughout China.
10:50 Interviewer: How have you been able to integrate learnings from the program into your current job and what are some examples?
10:57 Rachel Carmichael: Well, working in ICU, I have a captive audience, with my sedated and intubated patients. And so, it is not uncommon if you were to walk past the room of one of the patients I was assessing, to practice my full respiratory exam on them, or a cardiovascular exam, or neuro exam. And so, I'm thankful that the things that I have learned at work can directly be applied... Or the things that I have learned in school can be directly applied to my work environment. I would say the most exciting, light-bulb moment for me, right after I started school and was in my first semester, was learning about lupus and the way that it affects the heart, and the heart valves specifically, and then having a patient not even a week later, who had a history of lupus and had come into the hospital for heart-valve problems, and while the nurse who was giving me a report was saying, "Yeah, she's got a history of this and this over here." Saying it all in a very disjointed way, the light bulb clicked for me and I said, "Wait, she's got a history of lupus, it's uncontrolled, probably led to this heart-valve issue there, and that's why we're in the situation we're in." And it was just amazing to start to put those pieces together in a way that I would have just looked at it as, "Oh yeah, she's just sick. I don't know." And so, it was encouraging to see how... Just how everything is so connected and to start connecting those dots.