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Celebrating National Nurses Month: Meet Melissa Chestnut

May 13, 2024

Melissa ChestnutMeet Melissa Chestnut, BSN `07

I am currently enrolled at Drexel University’s MSN in Education online track study with a minor in Complementary Integrative Health. I am also a proud Drexel alumna completing the Accelerated Career Entry (ACE) nursing program 17yrs ago. It was an intense 11 months to acquire my secondary bachelor’s degree, but I was well prepared to enter the nursing profession.

Q: Why did you choose Drexel for this program?
A: This leads me to highlight the aspect of being well prepared as one of the many reasons I returned to Drexel after 16 years to advance my nursing knowledge. I am fully confident that I will be well-equipped with the necessary teaching tools to become a most effective nurse educator. I must mention that our program being ranked third in the country was also a huge factor in my decision knowing that I would be instructed by some of the top nurse educators with innovative evidence-based teaching methods.

Q: Why nursing?
A: A better question is why not? Nursing is the most trusted profession, and you can make impactful changes in people’s lives. It is inspiring and rewarding to know your actions, your care and your compassion can and will make a difference. In addition, the diverse opportunities allow you to grow your nursing career in ways you may not even initially have thought. For example, I thought I wanted to be a L&D nurse when I started nursing school but ended up enjoying nine years as a neonatal ICU nurse in various roles and settings (teaching, medical, surgical and travel). I left bedside nursing to pursue case management and currently work remotely as a clinical quality nurse for a managed care company in a rural farming community in Georgia. My next professional goal is to return to academia as a nurse educator. So, in just one word, why nursing? Unlimited.

Q: How are faculty and your cohort supporting you to be successful?
A: I was not disappointed by the tremendous support by all faculty, but I must highlight our track director and assistant clinical professor, Professor Jennifer Myers. She taught my first two track courses and provided a positive, psychologically safe, inclusive and interactive online learning environment. She set the tone for the rest of the program and is a crucial part of my current success in the program and my increased confidence. I was very nervous and unsure in the beginning if I would perform well since it had been 16 years since I was last in school. However, the transition has been seamless with support from my cohort many of whom have similar stories of long periods away from school.

Q: What is unique about this program? Why would you recommend it?
A: I wholeheartedly recommend the master’s in Nursing Education program as it provides the flexibility of online learning and evidence-based teaching practices. The uniqueness encountered are the well-renowned faculty who both challenges and provide detailed feedback for growth in addition to the positive support.

Q: What is the current state of nursing? And in the face of its challenges, what advice do you have for a person thinking about nursing as a career?
A: Nursing shortages have always been one of the challenges the nursing profession faces which leads to increased burnout and turnover. My advice to a person thinking about a nursing career is when faced with hard nursing clinicals in school and nursing shifts in your profession the key factor that will sustain you is reminding yourself why you joined nursing. If your reason is altruistic and goal is to provide safe, compassionate, competent patient care, you’ll have longevity and build resiliency. My other piece of advice is to prioritize self-care — if you don’t, you’ll have nothing left to give your patients, family and loved ones. Another challenge is the lack of diversity in nursing leadership roles. This is one of the many reasons I am pursuing my degree — to support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives for nursing faculty.

Q: How do you take care of yourself and destress?
A: I love the gym and strength training. It is a major decompressor. Nutrition-wise, for the most part I eat organic, whole foods which I find gives me better mental clarity. I also meditate. I truly believe having a positive mindset attracts positive experiences. In retrospect, even a challenging mindset has been instrumental in meeting whatever goal or experience I envisioned.

Q: Something most people don’t know about me is...
I live in a 160-year-old Georgia farmhouse and competed as a natural figure competitor in a women’s bodybuilding competition almost 10 years ago.