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How She Did It: Tanya Tanner

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Tanya Tanner

Age: 40
Occupation/College attending: I graduated with a PhD from the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver in May 2012 and am now a certified nurse-midwife. I'm a full-time faculty member at Frontier Nursing University. I also do clinical practices for the Aurora Nurse Midwives at the Medical Center of Aurora.
Location: Denver, Colo.

What portion of her education was online: It was a blended format, but my doctorate was almost all online.

What was the benefit of the online classes: They're asynchronous so you can access them whenever. I always thought that there was a lot of communication and participation in the classes I was in: It was like talking in a classroom except you didn't have to be there all the time, so it was really good for people who were not local. Also, it increases the diversity of the people in your class because you have people from different places doing different things, so you get a lot of perspectives about different areas of nursing.

Why she wanted to enter the nursing field: I just kind of ended up as a nurse, primarily because of the flexibility. I definitely knew I wanted to be a midwife while I was in my baccalaureate program. In my labor and delivery rotation, I saw a delivery that was really disturbing and I was really upset by it, and I thought, 'This isn't how you're supposed to have a baby.' I decided I wanted to do something that made a difference for women and childbirth, so I was pretty sure from the beginning that I wanted to do midwifery.

How she entered the field: I graduated high school when I was 16 and did a couple of years of pre-req nursing stuff and started my baccalaureate when I was 18. After that, I wanted to go to midwifery school, but at the time you had to have a year's worth of labor and delivery nursing experience. There weren't any opportunities [where I was living] in Salt Lake. So I drove to a rural hospital in Utah and worked as a labor and delivery nurse for a year so that I could go to midwifery school.

How she paid for it: Loans, work and some scholarship and fellowships.

What she thought of her online nursing programs overall: I thought it was great. I really liked the ability to be able to work on school when I could. That was really helpful because I was working nights at the time, and whenever we had down-time, I could do my readings or get online and do a posting. So that was really helpful.

Most memorable experience thus far: Presenting the results of my dissertation. Being able to present it and then have people ask questions and see it as a valuable piece of work, it makes you feel validated - like it was worth it and you actually are making a difference.

Would she do it all over again: Yes.

What would she do differently: I would try to move through the program more quickly. There were times that I didn't work on my dissertation as much as I would have liked just because life gets in the way. I could have kept the momentum a little more steady all the way through.

One career tip for others: Find something you really love. There are so many opportunities in nursing. There are so many things you can really do. Once you find something you really love, do it because it really brings meaning to your life.

What she plans to do next: Continue to teach and continue with my program of research.


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