Image: Student Annette MatherlyWhat is your full name?

Annette Forster Matherly

What is your nationality and where are you currently living?

I am originally from Redcar, Cleveland, England and left after I completed nursing school (University of Huddersfield) in 1988. I am currently living in Park City, Utah in the USA.

Are you currently employed? If so, what is your role?

I work for the University of Utah Healthcare Burn Center, and am the Community Outreach Education and Disaster Coordinator. Our burn center covers five states and in addition to patients sustaining burn injury we admit those with any kind of soft tissue trauma. My job is to educate multiple agencies and community members about emergency care of the burn patient and burn prevention practices in addition to working with the state in order to improve burn disaster preparedness efforts.

In what month and year did you start your degree?

I started my current masters program in February 2015 and am currently in the MSc Integrative Health and Social Care online programme.

Have you graduated? If not, when are you due to complete your course?

I will not be completed for another couple of years, probably right before Christmas in 2017.

What course are you completing / did you complete?

MSc Integrative Health and Social Care online programme.

What made you want to study this course?

I have always been interested in the collaboration and partnership of multiple agencies in order to promote and enhance patient care. This course allows me the freedom to explore other disciplines such as law, ethics and public health in addition to selecting a negotiated module of choice. This 35,000-foot view of healthcare will help me to better understand other organizations, and utilize their expertise in our five state regions.

Image: Integrative Health and Social Care MSc student quote

Why did you decide to study online?

I work full time so it was a no brainer.

What have you liked about studying online?

Initially I was worried, because I love classroom style teaching and the interaction and discussion that promotes. But I have been amazed at the freedom studying online brings. Not only the freedom to pick up and study wherever, whenever, but also the freedom to step up and take responsibility as an adult for self-learning or to choose to do the minimal required. Surprisingly, I have learned more than I ever thought possible, and have really enjoyed the ride so far. I don't advise the minimal required route however; there is definitely a difference not only in the final grade, but also in the level of education obtained. I also really like the way the modules flow and allow me to blend theory with my own practice context.

Were you / have you been well supported by the University and its tutors during your studies?

Yes. The tutors in my previous modules managed the forums well and picked up on each students level of understanding and experience. Their feedback to individual students and to the group as a whole was very helpful. I also really appreciate the library staff Academic lead and the admissions advisors who go out of their way to ensure you have the tools, information and resources you need in order to be successful.

How do you fit online learning in around your work, family and / or social life, etc?

It is challenging sometimes, and organizational skills and commitment are essential. I try to plan weeks in advance in order to not be overwhelmed with assignments and work/ family commitments. Of course I’m not always successful, but to be honest I have found that my online learning has enhanced my work and family / social life. It gives me more depth, more questions to ask and discuss with others, and has opened my eyes to other possibilities and ways to do things.

Do you have any contact with your fellow UDOL students? How does this contribute to your online learning experience?

Yes I have in previous modules, and I am sure I will hear from them again as a bunch of us started this 3 year journey together. I love that UDOL has such diversity, I can be on line with students from all over the world and their culture and individual experiences enhances my view of the world. I am often humbled by their stories.

What impact is this course having or has it had on your career?

To be honest I am not sure how I ever was successful in projects prior to this course. It has provided me with critical evaluation tools that had been previously lacking and a new love for research and evidence based practice. So far I have been able to incorporate the design of two multistate, multi agency work projects into my schoolwork, and the difference in proficiency level as a result is evident. I have a new confidence in my ability to perform because of the theoretical knowledge gained, and can converse more intelligently with team members about research methods and study design. This not only improves the way I educate, but also the way I am perceived by others. It is incredibly motivating to present a challenging proposal to a room of physicians / peers and not have any problems identified, and then be given the go ahead.

What would you say to anyone thinking about doing this course?

Just do it!! Maybe I sound like a Nike commercial but seriously you will grow professionally and personally, it is worth the time, effort and money. However, you have to be self motivated and willing to embrace new challenges.

If you had to sum up your online learning experience in one word, what would that be?

Evolution ... My evolution

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience?

I am grateful for the flexibility offered by UDOL to be able to continue my education and progress professionally. Thank you.