The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

249: When to Pursue an Advanced Degree with Dr. Teresa Yankanich

June 18, 2024 John Neral Season 4
249: When to Pursue an Advanced Degree with Dr. Teresa Yankanich
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
More Info
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
249: When to Pursue an Advanced Degree with Dr. Teresa Yankanich
Jun 18, 2024 Season 4
John Neral

Send us a Text Message.

Imagine balancing a nursing career, raising young children, and pursuing higher education all at once. Meet the incredible Dr. Teresa Yankanich, who accomplished just that and earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) at the age of 60. This episode of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast uncovers Teresa's inspiring journey from a business degree to a thriving career in nursing. Hear about the unwavering support from her employer and family, and the delicate work-life balance she maintained while achieving her advanced degree.

Curious about what drives a seasoned nurse to return to school? Teresa opens up about her unexpected educational opportunities, including transitioning from a bridge program to a Master's in Nursing Education and ultimately, her DNP in 2019. She candidly shares her motivations, from reaching the pinnacle of her profession to the practical impacts on her role as a nurse educator. Dive deep into her experiences managing projects and guiding a diverse nursing staff, especially during the tumultuous early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nursing professionals face significant challenges today, from burnout to inadequate staffing. Teresa offers her valuable insights on these pressing issues, advocating for fundamental solutions over superficial wellness programs. At 60, she continues to inspire, with plans to keep teaching and personal goals like mastering new software and crafting gifts for her grandson. Join us to learn from Teresa’s story of perseverance, lifelong learning, and her vision for the future of nursing education as you decide whether or not obtaining an advanced degree is right for you and your career development. .

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Want me to review your LinkedIn profile?
Learn more here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Imagine balancing a nursing career, raising young children, and pursuing higher education all at once. Meet the incredible Dr. Teresa Yankanich, who accomplished just that and earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) at the age of 60. This episode of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast uncovers Teresa's inspiring journey from a business degree to a thriving career in nursing. Hear about the unwavering support from her employer and family, and the delicate work-life balance she maintained while achieving her advanced degree.

Curious about what drives a seasoned nurse to return to school? Teresa opens up about her unexpected educational opportunities, including transitioning from a bridge program to a Master's in Nursing Education and ultimately, her DNP in 2019. She candidly shares her motivations, from reaching the pinnacle of her profession to the practical impacts on her role as a nurse educator. Dive deep into her experiences managing projects and guiding a diverse nursing staff, especially during the tumultuous early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nursing professionals face significant challenges today, from burnout to inadequate staffing. Teresa offers her valuable insights on these pressing issues, advocating for fundamental solutions over superficial wellness programs. At 60, she continues to inspire, with plans to keep teaching and personal goals like mastering new software and crafting gifts for her grandson. Join us to learn from Teresa’s story of perseverance, lifelong learning, and her vision for the future of nursing education as you decide whether or not obtaining an advanced degree is right for you and your career development. .

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Want me to review your LinkedIn profile?
Learn more here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

John Neral:

If you've considered pursuing an advanced degree to enhance your career path and trajectory, this episode's for you. In today's economy, obtaining an advanced degree may or may not pay off, and my guest is going to share her incredible journey and balancing act to obtain her doctorate and why it was so important for her to do so. In this episode, you will learn what you need to consider when it comes to pursuing that advanced degree and what to do when that advanced degree comes in the direct path of your busy life and your retirement goals. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is the Mid-Career GPS Podcast and I'm your hot, Jo hn Neral. I help mid-career professionals find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. Admittedly, I have been wanting to interview my guest for a while. I think she's a pretty big deal and an incredible rock star in her field. She's a true testament to the saying that not all superheroes wear capes.

John Neral:

I've known Teresa Yank anich for over 20 years. I've known her husband, john, for just as long, and we've coached a bowling camp every year for the last 20 years. I absolutely love it when my worlds collide like this. During the pandemic, I launched my first podcast called Show Up 2020, where I interviewed amazing people doing incredible things in their lives and careers. Teresa was one of my first guests when she appeared on the pod. She talked about being a nurse during the early months of the pandemic, what it meant for her and her fellow healthcare professionals to show up every day, and what it was like on the front lines. So can you imagine pursuing a doctorate during that time?

John Neral:

It may have taken Teresa five years, but she doesn't back down from a challenge. She's an adjunct professor at Temple University and a clinical nurse education specialist at Temple University Hospital, who also continues to do bedside care. Teresa's been married to her husband, John, for 38 years and is a proud mother and grandmother. You know how you meet people and you simply marvel at what they do. Teresa Yankanich is one of those people for me and I'm so very glad you get to meet her today. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Dr Teresa YAnn Kanich, welcome to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. It's great to have you here.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Thank you, great to be here, great to see you Okay.

John Neral:

so now I'm going to do the other introduction, which is Terri, my dear friend, it's great to have you here.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Thank you, it's great to be with you here.

John Neral:

You know this is a treat for me because I often don't get an opportunity to really interview and talk to close friends. But one of the reasons why, when I asked you a little almost a year ago to be on the podcast, it was because you had a pretty big moment that happened for you both personally and professionally, and I'm wondering if you can share with our listeners what that was.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Oh well, I finally earned my doctorate, my DNP Doctorate of Nursing Practice last night.

John Neral:

So why do you say you finally earned that doctorate?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Well, because I'm 60 years old now, I decided to go back to school. I guess I've been in school most of my life. So I graduated with a business degree in 1985 and worked in cost and reimbursement cost, reimbursement and budget um for st christopher's hospital for children, and at the time there was a nursing shortage and they said if anybody's willing to go back to school, we'll pay your tuition as long as you give us a year. And I liked what I saw at the hospital and I thought, gee, I'd really like to do this. So at the time my kids were six months old and two years old and yeah, and there was a hospital program down literally four blocks down the street, episcopal hospital had a school of nursing and they, they had an evening weekend program. So I worked my finance job during the day and went to school nights and weekends. And thankfully I have a wonderful husband who also worked full time and watched the kids, you know, cared for the kids nights and weekends. And you know, I finally graduated and I thought, okay, I'm done.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

And then years later, years went by, I'm working and I decided, hmm, I'm working at one of Temple's hospitals and they had a program. Well, they had free tuition if you go to Temple, and I thought you know I'm an idiot if I don't take advantage of this, you know. So let me go and find out more information. So I did. I met with a woman and she said well, because you have a bachelor's degree and a diploma, but you don't have a BSN or bachelor of science, in nursing you, there's a bridge program you have to take. It's for online courses. It starts next week. Do you want to be in it? And I'm like, oh my gosh, I was really just coming for information. But I said, yes, yes, I do, because if I don't, I won't do it. This was in 2011.

John Neral:

All right, so let me stop. Let me stop you here for a second. So walk, walk us through this moment where you go in looking for information and you walk out enrolled in a program, Like when you came home and you talked to John and you were like well, this is what happened. How did that conversation go?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

He was like great. He's like great. If you want to do it, that's great. I had told him I was interested and maybe, but I wasn't expecting to start next week. I was expecting like maybe next semester or next year.

John Neral:

Yeah, Do you think, had you not seized that opportunity in that moment and started that program the following week, that you may not have done it?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Yeah, yeah, cause life just gets busy and and you know there's never a good time, you know I I be like oh well, I'm too busy, maybe I'll do this next year, maybe I'll do it later, later, later, later and late. You know, it was already I had graduated from my diploma program in nursing in 1995, and this was already 2011. So I had already waited all that time. So I thought, if I didn't do it, I might wait another, you know years, I mean, you know. So I was like yeah, okay, I'll do it.

John Neral:

All right. So you go in, you go through this program and remind us again this program was to get your master's correct.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Yes. So I got a master's in nursing education in 2015. And I thought I'm done. I even found a Facebook post, like it has like, from years ago. Just finished writing the last paper of my life, I was like I am done, I am done, I am never going back, ever, ever, ever done. And then 2019, I started the DNP program.

John Neral:

Okay, so what? So at the time in 2019,. You're how old?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Oh my gosh. So let's see, that's five years ago, 55.

John Neral:

Okay, so you're 55, it's 2019. We have no idea what's going to happen in 2020. We're going to get there and you decide it's time for you to go for your doctorate. Why was that so important for you to pursue the doctorate at 55?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

I wanted to get the terminal degree, to go as far as I could in my field. There's nothing beyond a doctorate. If I were to go back for anything which right now I'm not planning on, but you know, you never know I wasn't planning on anything in 2015 either, but it would have to be in a different field, like another master's in another field. But I wanted to go as far as I could in my field.

John Neral:

But I wanted to go as far as I could in my field. So what was the incentive for you at work? Because you're working as a nurse educator, you're doing some bedside nursing on a per diem basis. What was the motivation or the incentive from the hospital standpoint to be like oh hey, this is how we're going to use you with the doctorate, or this is why we think this is also a great move. Talk to us a little bit about what that thought process was like.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Well being doctorally prepared. You learn a lot of project management, and I do. I do lead several projects, and you know so the education that I got in the program has helped me to lead these projects.

John Neral:

So at a high level, terry, when people are listening to our conversation right and they're getting your background and they understand that you're a nurse and you're a nurse educator who trains other nurses, you teach people how to be nurses and get certified in everything. Peel back the curtain a little bit here. And what is that administrative type side of your job that you kind of do on a day-to-day basis when you tell us your leading projects?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

projects To plan, like how to get the education out to 1800 nurses on all 20, and they're there 24, seven, you know. So some people are day shift, night shift. How to look through the evidence to see what is best practice, what the latest evidence shows, because nursing is very different now than when I started. Things we did in the 90s are things that we thought were good are not good, and you know, and it's. You have to follow the research. You have to follow the research, you have to follow the evidence, and part of the program has taught me like how to how to evaluate the evidence.

John Neral:

So here's one of the questions I've been waiting to ask you because, yes, you and I this is not the first time you and I have been on the mic together. Before I launched this podcast, I had another podcast called Show Up 2020. It's still out there. I never took it down, and you came on the mic with me to talk about what it was like being a healthcare professional during the initial few months of COVID. You shared some really powerful stories about how the hospital where you work and your colleagues were dealing with a continual unknown at the time about what the pandemic was like and how it was impacting us In the midst of all of this and we didn't talk about it during that particular episode.

John Neral:

You're pursuing your doctorate. You had started your doctoral studies a year before studies a year before, and so how in the heck did you manage everything going on, both personally in your life and professionally, where we're in the middle of a global pandemic? You're in a you know, one of the US major cities and you're also working a job more than full-time? How the heck did you do that?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

And I actually, at the time, had a third job. I was teaching Holy Family, that's right. I was teaching global health, of all things.

John Neral:

Boy to be a fly on the wall in that class during that time, right, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

How did you do it? It was challenging. My classes both that I was taking as a student and the class I was teaching everything went online, which, in a lot of ways, made it easier to be. I love online classes, yeah, but it was challenging. It was like nobody knew what was going to happen. Nobody knew where this was going, how this was going to end. It was a lot of time management.

John Neral:

Yeah, was there ever a thought of you thinking something had to give and maybe it was the doctoral program that needed to stop or be put on hold or paused for a second?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Yeah, there were a few times I just kind of thought, oh my gosh, I'm never going to be done'm never going to be done, I'm not. I can't do all of this, I can't cut, and it's just kind of like just cut it. John was very encouraging. He's like you can do this, you got this, and that was very helpful.

John Neral:

Yeah, yeah, there's no question, john's John's wonderful and wonderful, and I think we've known each other. I mean John, you myself, I mean we go back probably 22, 23 years. Yeah, I think so. It's so important. We say this on the podcast as well. But when you have a support network that is truly there for you and supportive of you and behind you, it makes things so much easier, because we know mid-career is so dynamic. Hey there, we'll get back to the episode in a moment.

John Neral:

But I want to give you something game-changing, a golden ticket. That is like having a roadmap to take you from career confusion to clarity in minutes. Introducing the Mid-Career Job Seekers Checklist. It is your secret weapon in your job search, and if you feel like navigating your job search right now is like navigating a maze blindfolded, don't worry, my friend, I got your back. This checklist is a powerhouse of organization and preparation, crafted to make you say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed and hello to a career transition made easy. I want you to head on over to https://johnneral. com to snag your free copy of the Mid-Career Job Seekers Checklist. It's not just a checklist, it is a career compass to help you find that job you're going to love.

John Neral:

Now let's dive back into the episode. Being 60, you may probably not consider yourself to be a mid-career professional, because we're going to talk about what the path or the runway is going to be looking like for you. But it goes to say that some people could identify at mid-career at 60 because they're not planning to stop working. They might be in the latter part of that mid part of their career. But here you are you're balancing and juggling everything, go through the pandemic things kind of. You know. We never say they really ever go back to normal because we just learn to adapt and everything like that. Right, at what point, terry, did you see in your coursework, in your academic study, that this was going to happen Like it was? You were going to get the degree you were going to be conferred, the doctorate, this was going to happen. When did you really see that coming to fruition?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

I guess really after the completion of my project. So I had to do a project on nurse retention. Well, nurse retention was my topic. You have to do a project. So I did a project with nurse retention where I followed a group of new to practice nurses. When that was done and I was writing up the paper and I was like, wow, this is all I have to do now is finish this paper. No, I mean, it's a 50 something page paper and it was. That was grueling, Because I I've never had trouble writing papers before. I always did well with that, but I never saw so much red ink in my life. Dear Lord, can you just tell me everything? Like I don't know. It was just so frustrating. But I thought, once I'm done this paper, I'm done, I don't have any more classes, I just have to finish this paper, and you know. And then I was like, wow, we're at the finish line.

John Neral:

The finish line Based on your research and everything you've learned from your doctorate.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

But also just being in the field, what does nurse retention look like today? Well, the it's tough. I think you need okay I call it like the four s's okay, you need staff, you need the stuff, you need the support, and then they'll stay by stuff. Another s would be supplies okay yeah, so you need to have enough staff to do your job. You need to have what you need available to you, without running around looking for things or you know um you need. My dogs are barking oh, that's fine.

John Neral:

We embrace the dogs barking and all that that's good.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Yeah, we have a Rottweiler and the Shepherd, Husky.

John Neral:

Yeah they're protecting turf. It's all good.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Yes, somebody probably walked down the street.

John Neral:

All right, so we're talking about staff, support, stuff, supplies and stay.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

All right. So we're talking about staff support stuff, supplies and stay. Yes, that will make the day, and you know the evidence. When I was looking, it showed a lot of evidence around mental health and nurses suffering from burnout, which is definitely true. And they kept talking about wellness programs and wellness programs are important. They're wonderful. They're not going to make people stay. You need the other stuff. Yeah, wellness is like an add on uh, which will help people stay and help people, you know, be their best, feel their best. But you need the other stuff. You need to have appropriate staffing, you need to have adequate supplies, support from your leadership.

John Neral:

When you look at the data, do we have more the same or less nursing professionals than what we did at the beginning of 2020?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

professionals than what we did at the beginning of 2020? At the beginning of 2020, I'd say we're getting back to about the same. The big problem is a lot of nurses are leaving the bedside. They're nursing, they're in nursing professions, but even now, a lot of the new to practice nurses come in and they say, yeah, I'm going to do this for a year, then I'm going to nurse practitioner school or nurse anesthetist, anesthetist I can't say it CRS.

John Neral:

I can't say it either. It's okay.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Yeah, yeah.

John Neral:

So they're, so they're leaving the bedside to go do other things in the profession under the nursing umbrella. Why?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

is that uh, there's a lot of reasons. Bedside is really hard. It's really um, patients and families can be challenging. Um, there's a certain I don't know. I don't want to say disrespect, but especially like on a regular floor. You're kind of like I don't yeah, I don't know how to put this, but kind of like what are you going to do after this?

John Neral:

Yeah, yeah, cause cause what I cause. I have other friends who were nurses and you know, a few times I have needed to be in the hospital for various things, like eye surgery last year and stuff and kind of kind of learn what's going on there and stuff like that. But um, that the pacing alone is always from one thing to the next is what I kind of hear and what I envision. And so you know, people are there, they're needy, they're scared, they need attention and that means you have to be on all the time during your shift and there's very, very little downtime and that's got to be challenging.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

That is challenging and you're constantly being asked to do more, especially in the area of documentation. That's a big dissatisfier. You know nurses want to go in and take care of people and their families and you know spend time with them and things like that, and you're doing so much documentation. Um, it can be frustrating to you know, like, oh, I gotta get, gotta get to the computer, gotta get stuff.

John Neral:

Sure. So when we so, let's bring this back to you for a second right. So here you go. Right, you've got your doctorate. You love what you do right. So you are also an adjunct professor, you're teaching and you're 60 years old, yeah, yeah. So what does your career path look like now, as you lead toward retirement?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Well, I plan to keep working for at least seven years. That's my full retirement age, maybe till 70. I don't know, I will probably give up my bedside before I'm 70, though, just because it's physically challenging, and I don't know how. I don't know that at 70, I can be working 12 hours in an ICU.

John Neral:

Right.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

But I plan to keep teaching. But I plan to keep teaching. In fact, even after I retire from full-time. In retirement, I would like to at least teach part-time. I like in-person and I like online, so either or both. A few days a week, um, but for now, um, keeping what I have now, uh, the job I have now as a nurse educator. It's challenging, there's so much going on right now. I was just saying this morning like, oh, we are so busy, I can't go, can't keep up. Yeah, but it's challenging and it's fun though, yeah.

John Neral:

Well, I think that that's one of those things too, that we look at our work in general, and, understandably, every job and some more than others have compounded stressors and influencers that make the job more difficult at times, but when you enjoy what you do, it makes you decide whether you truly wanna stay in it and how long you want to stay in it. And so I'm curious, as we start wrapping up here, what's the next thing on your list to learn, whether it's personal or professional.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

There's a few things I want to learn, so personal. I would like to learn how to crochet or knit.

John Neral:

Okay.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Now I have a new grandson and I can make things for him and professionally, I need to learn. I don't want to get caught behind. I'm managing to keep current now but, like all the new things coming out with Teams and the files and OneNote and things like that, I know how to have a Teams meeting, but I'm not sure how to manage the files in there and how to share documents and things like that. So I want to keep learning things like that.

John Neral:

There's just so much software out there that I don't know and I want to be able to learn it and well, especially for not only your, your day job, but also your work at the university and the college and everything there's. There's so many different types of technology to stay up to date with. Yeah, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm, fortunate, right. So so me and my world, I just have to use the stuff I know is going to work for me. I had to log onto a Google meet the other and I was like I hope, when I hit this button, it works, because I don't use Google Meet all a lot, but no, that's so good. And I appreciate you sharing your story and, more importantly, your why, your reasons for staying up to date and being current and pursuing a degree that was really important for you to do. Right, you said. You said you know to get to the highest level possible in my field, and I appreciate you sharing that with us today because that's really powerful.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

I think it would help me be a better teacher of students if I have achieved the highest that I can achieve and learn what I can.

John Neral:

Yeah, yeah, so Terry got a lot of people listening. What advice would you give to them to help them build their mid-career GPS?

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

I would say keep looking for things to learn, keep trying, go as far as you can go. There's always something new to learn and you're never too old to learn.

John Neral:

Yeah, what a great message. So, terry, thank you for all of that. If people want to reach out, they want to connect with you, learn a little bit more about you, or even have questions about the nursing profession, and they want to connect with you as a resource or whatever. I'm going to turn the mic over to you and please share with us any information you want to give in terms of how people can connect with you and learn from you.

Dr. Teresa Yankanich:

Okay, I'm on LinkedIn Jeresee and Kamich.

John Neral:

Yeah, that's good, yeah, no, I think people reach out. I always say to people if you want to connect with any of my guests on LinkedIn, by all means feel free to go ahead and do so. But when you go to reach out, say to them hey, I heard you on the Mid-Career GPS podcast. I really appreciated your interview and I'd love to connect. So you have such a wonderful presence on LinkedIn and you've built your network very well there. So I hope people will reach out and join your network and vice versa. But in the meantime, my friend Dr Terry Yankanich, thank you so very much for being a wonderful guest on the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Thanks for sharing your story. Thank you, yeah, all right.

John Neral:

My friends, if there's one thing I want to wrap up today with, it's this this podcast focuses primarily on mid-career professionals. My friends, if there's one thing I want to wrap up today with, it's this this podcast focuses primarily on mid-career professionals, and I asked Terry to come on because she is one of the most motivated and service-oriented people I know and, amidst everything we have going on in life, if the thing that you want is so important, you will find a way to achieve it. Terry shared her story about pursuing a doctorate that she began working on in 2019 and worked on that through a global pandemic, while working at a hospital and educating fellow nurses. So if Terry can do that, we can certainly accomplish a whole lot for whatever we want to accomplish in our lives. And again, terry said to us she wanted to achieve the highest level possible in her field.

John Neral:

Build your mid-career GPS to help you achieve whatever excellence you're setting out for in your professional life as well. So until next time, remember this you will build your mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how you show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Make it a great rest of your day how I can help you build your mid-career GPS, or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at John Darrell Coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.

Pursuing an Advanced Degree
Journey to Doctorate in Nursing
Mid-Career Challenges and Growth
Mid-Career GPS for Professional Excellence