patty cauthenWhen it comes to people who leave the world a little bit better than when they found it, there is usually a passion igniting their life’s work. There is also a whole lot of dedication, too. At Grantham University, we encourage all students to find their passion and use education to fuel their actions and make a difference. That’s what nursing student Patty Cauthen chose to do as she pursued her Master of Science in Nursing and gained a better skill set to help the Ethiopia Health Aid Organization.

Here’s what Cauthen had to say about how her Grantham education is better preparing her to make a positive impact:

Grantham University: Why did you decide to pursue your education? What made you pick Grantham University?

Patty Cauthen: I elected to pursue higher education for only one reason: I work with a small non-profit organization, Ethiopia Health Aid, which for the past 10 years, has been building healthy, self-reliant communities in rural Ethiopia.

Our latest project is the completion of a large hospital and development of a nursing college. With this project in mind and knowing my limitations regarding health care, I came to realize that my career revolved around patient care and not necessarily the management/leadership side of nursing.

I started to question what more I could do for our organization and in what capacity I could best serve the people of Ethiopia. I was left with furthering my education and found Grantham University through a contact who had earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing through Grantham’s online program.

GU: What were you feeling prior to starting the program and why?

PC: Prior to actually starting, I was a bit hesitant.

I wanted to spend my time at Grantham working toward gaining knowledge related to Ethiopian health care and [the country’s] entire health care system/culture, in general. [During my] first term, I researched future courses, as well as the capstone project, and realized that I would need to reach out to the then dean of the nursing school to ask permission to not do the conventional work, but [instead] what related to Ethiopia.

I was delighted and amazed how supportive the leadership was at Grantham, even offering a preceptor contact from Ethiopia and helping me work at a local nursing school in Kansas. This is when I made the conscious decision to continue my nursing studies at Grantham, knowing that from the top down I had support for my personal endeavor.

GU: Once you started the program, how did you feel and what made you feel that way?

PC: Once I started the program, I felt empowered to address each instructor at the start of each course to advise them of my plan to twist the predetermined assignments and adjust them to meet my personal situation and quest for more knowledge regarding Ethiopian nursing, culture, health care, reform, and so on.

Each faculty member was sincerely interested in the project in Ethiopia and offered insight and direction.

GU: What did you like best about Grantham University, and specifically about your degree program?

PC: [I liked] the fact that Grantham is there to assist the individual student in earning a degree for themselves. I don’t believe that all universities would have been as accepting of a student who is not turning out the same work that every student turns out. Instead, the individual MSN faculty members met this challenge and my ideas with acceptance and support.

GU: Describe the support you received from the faculty and staff at Grantham University. Is there anyone specific who was a particular help to you?

PC: One faculty member (though they all were helpful), Dr. Evelyn Bowman, was the most inspirational instructor. I had Dr. Bowman for four courses, but requested her for the last one … the final revision of the Capstone MOL 602.

What a vat of knowledge and experience. She was so gracious to help direct me to successful completion of the project. Her wisdom, patience and direction were invaluable. I encourage other students to reach out to faculty members.

GU: How did you stay motivated to complete your degree?

PC: Well, I did meet several students along the way, one of whom has become a friend and definitely a motivator.

I would recommend that each new student look for some external source of motivation, someone to commiserate with and who will cheer you on when you just feel like quitting … because at some point you [may feel that way]! So, find that someone, because, trust me, one day they will call you too, and you can bestow upon them their own words of wisdom: “Really? Just suck it up!”

GU: Describe your life since completing your degree program.

PC: I am looking forward to some “me time” and some “husband time” (the kids are grown and gone). Never in my wildest imagination did I [understand] just how time-consuming school would be. All said and done, I am glad I did it and am thankful for the knowledge I attained, but I look forward to a vacation!

GU: What is your biggest accomplishment?

PC: I think I have yet to have a “biggest accomplishment.” I believe it is coming, though. Maybe helping implement the nurse training program in Ethiopia? Or somehow helping to raise the bar in the Ethiopian health care system? I don’t know, but it’s coming!

GU: How did your degree from Grantham University help you accomplish your goals?

PC: Without Grantham, I am confident I would never have made the effort to research every aspect of health care in Ethiopia! Being a U.S. citizen and only traveling periodically to Ethiopia with [Ethiopia Health Aid] board members and volunteers, you are at a huge disadvantage. The culture is so completely different. Did you know that the profession of nursing in Ethiopia has only had a "Standards of Practice" since December 2010?

Nursing Code of Ethics was written after that! Grantham and my capstone led me to investigate and research health care related topics, and though I am not even close to being an expert on any of it, I now have a much better understanding and can cut through some of the red tape with others so that we can accomplish more on our visits.

GU: Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about going back to school?

PC: Make sure you completely understand that school is a whole lot of work and dedication. If you can’t set aside time and don’t have support from your family, it may be something for a future date when you can dedicate more time and thought to the process.

GU: What are you most passionate about? What drives you in life?

PC: Excellence in health care and making a real difference.

GU: What do you think is the most interesting thing about you?

PC: Maybe not so much about me, but I certainly have some interesting stories that I can share as a result of being a flight nurse for 16 years! When you think you have seen it all … well, don’t kid yourself! [For example,] is going to jail in Korea with a doctor for murder, because your patient died over international waters interesting?

GU: If someone were to tell your story, what would you want the listener to know about you?

PC: That I was passionate about what I did, that I truly cared and always tried to do what was right, regardless of the circumstance. And if a plan didn’t work, I changed the plan, not the goal.

GU: Do you have any tips or tricks that could help students?

PC: First, marry the right man or woman. It just makes life easier. And second, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns applies to your grade point average, too. Of course, you should maintain a respectable GPA, but know that once you cross 3.5, it matters less and less.

The difference between an A and an A- is not worth you endlessly pouring over a textbook or the internet instead of spending valuable time with family and friends or even just yourself. The amount of energy needed to get perfect grades could be put to better use.

Fueling Your Own Passion at Grantham University

What are you passionate about? How are you going to be proactive about your passions? Whether you’re volunteering your time and resources, like Patty Cauthen with Ethiopia Health Aid, or fighting online computer hackers, Grantham University has the resources to help you gain the skills necessary to take charge of your passions.

Ready to get started? Contact us today!

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