Kim Barton-Simms always planned on earning her master’s degree. A master’s in clinical nurse education, though, was not originally on her radar.
“It took me several years and a few false starts to finally decide on nurse educator,” Barton-Simms said. “It took being placed in an educator role temporarily for me to realize that I enjoyed it. The nurses learning from me encouraged this track for me as well.”
Barton-Simms was asked to fill in when a new labor and delivery nurse’s preceptor was unable to make it to work.
“The new nurse I worked with recommended to my supervisor that I be put in the educator position more often,” Barton-Simms said. “She said that I made her feel comfortable enough to ask all the questions that she wanted to, that I explained things in a way that she not only knew what she was supposed to do in certain situations, but also the why behind those actions.”
That chance assignment culminated in Barton-Simms receiving her MSN in Clinical Nurse Educator from Jacksonville University in June 2017.
“I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience, but it never occurred to me to pursue an educator role,” she said, until “I discovered my passion for labor and delivery extended into the teaching of the specialty as well.”
That wasn’t the first time an event set Barton-Simms on her path.
Didn’t Always Want to be a Nurse
“I didn’t always want to be a nurse,” Barton-Simms said. “But I coached a friend through labor and after observing her nurse’s role, I realized that I wanted to do exactly that every day for the rest of my life.
“My friend was a young, first-time mom, alone and terrified,” Barton-Simms recalled. “The way the nurse knew what she needed amazed me. She was supportive when my friend was feeling afraid, tired and dependent, and she switched gears to show immense strength and just a little tough love when my friend began to lose control.”
Barton-Simms, a New York state native, attended St. Joseph’s College of Nursing in Syracuse. She earned her bachelor of science in nursing online from Jacksonville University, which made choosing JU for her master’s studies an easy choice.
“I was impressed with the professors, it was more reasonably priced than many similar programs and it was truly ‘do-able’ for a busy, working professional with a family,” Barton-Simms said.
Not surprisingly, for a “busy, working professional with a family,” Barton-Simms’s biggest challenge in earning her master’s degree was time management.
“I work full-time nights, I was pregnant and then a new mom at the end of the program,” Barton-Simms recalled. “There were times when it became overwhelming.
“My husband was the biggest support,” Barton-Simms said. “He’d help me troubleshoot my schedule, and he read every single paper I wrote just to make sure the flow was OK, even though many times he swears he didn’t understand a word!”
Barton-Simms also found support through her student services representative at Bisk, which facilitates the JU online degree program from which Barton-Simms earned her degree.
“She was incredible,” Barton-Simms said of her student services representative. “She returned calls promptly, she answered my questions and addressed my concerns or found someone who could if she couldn’t. She was always positive and pushed me through some tough times when I considered giving up.”
One Session, One Class, One Day at a Time
Even with her degree in hand, Barton-Simms remains busy. She lives in Warrenton, Va., where she works as a maternal/child certified RN in Fauquier Hospital’s Family Birthing Center. Also, she and her husband are the parents of a 13-month-old daughter.
Her spare time is spent horseback riding, a pastime she looks forward to passing down. “I look forward to teaching my daughter how to ride,” Barton-Simms said.
Next on Barton-Simms’s agenda is “studying for the Certified Nurse Educator exam, and feeling well prepared and excited about whatever comes next!”
As for her JU experience, Barton-Simms said, “I would absolutely recommend it to others. My life would not have allowed me to take a time out and go back to school. This way I obtained a quality education around my already existing obligations.”
She advises online degree seekers “to know where your support is: family, friends, co-workers, student advisor, whatever and then just go for it.
“The scariest part is the beginning,” Barton-Simms said. “Once you’re in, take it one session, one class, one day at a time. Before you know it, you’re on stage being handed a diploma!”