As long as Terry Page can regularly visit Walt Disney World, she is okay with being a grown-up.
The Boone, North Carolina, native graduated from the University of West Florida's online Master of Science in Nursing-Nurse Executive program in May 2018. She also recently started the Emerging Leader Program at Orlando Health, where she is a clinical assistant nurse manager.
"It's a big interview process to get into the Emerging Leader Program," she said. "About 160 people apply each year. The program is to help promote within the organization, to help leaders move up. I am overwhelmed with excitement for this opportunity. The first meeting was intense but great. I love Orlando Health. I'll never go anywhere else."
Page initially planned to become a physical therapist after high school. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology from East Carolina University in 2000 and worked as a trainer and a massage therapist before zeroing in on her true calling.
"I decided I would grow up and go to nursing school," she said. "I just had to find the right time to do it. I was always interested in doing something in healthcare or helping people, in general."
Once established as a nurse, Page's mission involved finding a job closer to Mickey Mouse. Hello, Orlando. Now, Page and her husband, Steve, have two children -- Mackenzie (7) and Vincent (5) -- to share their love of the Magic Kingdom.
"We love Disney," she said. "We moved here to be closer to Disney. All of our free time and free money were going to Disney. It was cheaper to move to Orlando."
Argonaut Times Two
Page earned an Associate of Science in Nursing from Queens University of Charlotte in 2009. She began her career at North Carolina's Novant Health.
After moving to Orlando Health as a registered nurse in February 2012, Page enrolled in UWF's Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program.
"I had to find a school that would accept all of my previous classes," she said. "UWF was flexible and willing to work with me. Working full-time with two small kids, there was no way that I could take classes that I had already taken. That's how I narrowed down the schools. Then, obviously, the price of the program was a big factor because I paid for it."
The experience in the online RN to BSN program was so positive that Page moved straight into the online MSN program. However, there was one small bump in the road before she could start a graduate degree program at UWF.
"Orlando Health didn't have an affiliation with UWF and had not updated its affiliations in quite a while," Page said. "I wouldn't be able to get my master's at UWF if we didn't have that affiliation. I went to my Chief Nursing Officer, Kathy Black, and she reached out to the powers that be.
"We ended up getting an affiliation with UWF, and there are more people at Orlando Health who can [now] go to school there for a master's degree. UWF comes to our college fairs now."
Page has her sights set on eventually becoming a nursing operations manager.
"I enrolled in the master's program in order to reach my goal of wanting to move up in the corporation," she said. "I enjoyed the BSN program so much. And it was flexible enough that I thought that I could do it with family and my work life."
Making the Rounds
Page enjoyed the online MSN-Nurse Executive practicum courses the most because they were so hands-on in terms of real-world experience.
"I liked anything where I was able to have a preceptor and do lots of hours with people who are in leadership at Orlando Health," she said. "I chose my administrator for the emergency department. Not only were we doing things for the class, but I got to spend time with her and get a different feel for her role. I like the variety of nursing. Every day is different and keeps you engaged and challenged."
Although fairly new to a management role, Page immediately applied the majority of the information from the online MSN-Nurse Executive program to her career.
"Dr. [Janet Niemi] Chubb, who retired after our class finished, was amazing," Page said. "She was inspiring but intense. At the time, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is so hard.' I thanked her for that because she pushed us, and it was great.
"I didn't know she was retiring until we were done and I sent her an email. She's moving to North Carolina. The connection with her was great. Hopefully, we'll continue to stay in touch. She was a great mentor."
Page also credits Steve for helping her throughout her four years in the UWF online nursing programs.
"My husband was supportive and is still supportive," she said. "I'm sure he's glad that I'm done. If I ever did go back to school, he would probably say, 'Are you kidding?' It was good. He was 100 percent supportive. I'm the first person in my family to ever get a master's degree."
Now that Page is finished with college, she looks forward to building her nursing practice and enjoying all things Disney with her family. She also took away a side benefit from the UWF experience.
"They asked for you to do reflection time in the master's program," she said. "It was either a reflection journal or activity. I don't know why, but I was not a believer. It turned out to be the most beneficial part of the program that I still do today. That was the best part of it. Set aside the time and make sure you focus to get out of it what they're trying to give you."
As for the actual schoolwork, Page said strong time management is the key to online classroom success.
"You have to set aside the time to devote to it," she said. "You can't wait until the very last minute because certain things take preparation. You can't just sit and write it. Even though I hated some of the papers and the things that I had to do at the time, a lot of that helped me."
Plus, when Page completes the Emerging Leaders Program at Orlando Health, she will already have the MSN to push her to the next rung on the ladder.
"The direction that all of the organizations are moving is to prefer for any type of leadership to have a master's degree," she said. "It was the only thing to do."
Learn more about the UWF online MSN-Nurse Executive program.
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