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NCU Alumni Profile: Failure is Not a Career Option

BY: MARISSA POULSON

V Morrison 1

Commander Valerie Morrison completed her D.B.A. in 2013.

Commander Valerie Morrison (D.B.A., 2013) joined the Navy Nurse Corps as an Officer Candidate in the Bachelor Degree Completion Program with a long range goal: obtaining her master’s degree.

“My father dropped out of school to enlist in the Army during WWII and my mom only had some technical schooling as a secretary after high school,” shares Morrison, “but both of my parents were adamant that the five of us kids would go to college.”

In 1991, Morrison completed her bachelor’s degree and was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy Nurse Corps.  Eleven years later, she achieved her original goal, earning her Master of Science in Management from the Naval Postgraduate School.

While at school, Morrison had been inspired by a retired naval officer with a D.B.A. “He always brought examples from his consulting work with the City of Salinas to his policy course,” she recalls. “He was the example of how I wanted to advance my education.”

A year later, she attended an educational fair while working at Naval Hospital Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Fla., and knew NCU’s online format would provide the flexibility she needed to obtain her doctorate. She enrolled in the D.B.A. in Management program and started her coursework in 2003. By 2009, she was working on her dissertation proposal when she was deployed to Kuwait.

Morrison was ready for it, but just four months later, her deployment ended abruptly and she returned to the States, her head swirling.

“It is difficult to explain how much mental preparation you make in order to deploy (leaving a then 2-year-old and 5-year-old with your husband and mother-in-law).  Reintegration is a very real challenge for military families…including mine,” she admits.

In fact, it seemed that her NCU coursework was the one constant in her life so she jumped back into it. Instead of progressing like she planned, however, she earned her first “U” grade, which led to an elongated leave of absence from NCU (“to get my head together”).

Morrison returned to NCU in 2010, around the same time she was selected for a great career opportunity as the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps—a two-star Admiral.

“Working for the top nurse in the Navy is an awesome thing, but it also required many hours and lots of travel,” she says. “However, failure was not an option.”

That commitment was tested again, when in late 2011, Morrison was diagnosed with a cancerous sinus tumor.  While the surgery was a great success, precautionary radiation treatments packed a punch she wasn’t expecting.

“Being a nurse, I thought I would end the radiation treatments, be tired for about two weeks, and go about my happy way, but I was tired! Luckily, I was able to take an extended time off from work and put 100 percent effort into my dissertation manuscript.”

Morrison’s determination paid off. She successfully defended her dissertation – Examining the Relationship between Workplace Stress and Intent to Leave of Navy Nurses – on March 27, 2013.

When the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps retired in August, Morrison continued to move forward, now serving as the Career Planner for new Director of the Navy Nurse Corps.

“One of the great things about my job is that I get to work on behalf of the roughly 6,000 active, Reserve, and federal civilian nurses who work for Navy Medicine worldwide,” shares Morrison. “Every month, I travel up to Newport, RI, to Officer Development School, where I welcome the new ensigns. It’s so motivating to be around the future leaders of the Navy Nurse Corps.”

Morrison is also working to advance her professional standing through her research. “My abstract was accepted for a poster presentation at the Virginia Nurses Association Education Day in September.  I also presented at a Joint Clinical Nurse Specialist Symposium in July, and have been asked to present to a Ph.D. Theories course at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in October,” she reveals.

Additionally, Morrison is studying toward certification as a Nurse Executive (for higher level nursing professionals) and was selected to serve on the American Nurses Association Advisory Board for Nurse Fatigue (promoting health and safety for patients and nurses).

Despite everything on her plate, Morrison also volunteers as the Delegating Nurse as her kids’ school, and enjoys being a full-time mom and spending time with her family.

So how does she do it all? “I have several calendars—my Outlook calendar, a desk calendar, a wall calendar on the fridge, a weekly calendar on the pantry door.  I plan the year, the month, and the day,” she laughs. “If I can do it; anyone can do it.”

*Originally published in Higher Degrees Fall 2013.

Organizing Your Research

BY: ERIN WALSH

Writing a dissertation requires managing hundreds of citations and sources. Careful organization will save you countless hours rummaging through your research, but the million dollar question many students ask is “how do I do that?”

To answer this question, we asked NCU students, faculty and alumni — via Facebook and LinkedIn — how they keep track of their research. Their recommendations: Mendeley, Zotero, EndNote, Evernote, and of course, RefWorks:

  • Mendeley organizes documents and references, suggests related research, shows readership statistics and allows collaboration with groups. The basic version is free, but premium features can be added for a cost.

“I have been using Mendeley… it is great for being able to access material from different devices such as my iPad.” Denise Parker (Ed.D., Educational Technology & E-Learning, candidate)

“I use Mendeley as my main repository for articles and citations…I find that this is the perfect way to keep track of my materials.” Alan Jackson (D.B.A., candidate)

  • Zotero is available as a Firefox plugin or as a standalone application. By creating an account, you are able to sync your research information with other computers and an online library that is accessible from any computer connected to the Internet. Zotero is capable of identifying bibliographic information on web pages and, with a click, automatically saves it.  In many cases, Zotero will automatically capture citation information.  Items saved in your library are searchable. You can identify duplicates and insert citations directly into your research paper using a word processor plugin. There is a $20/year charge for 2G of server-based storage, but up to 300MB of storage is free.

“Zotero.” Susan Stillman, Ed.D. (NCU faculty)

  • EndNote groups citations into libraries with the file extension *.enl and a corresponding *.data folder. Access to certain searchable library catalogs and free databases are included in the software. EndNote offers automatic citation formatting with a list of 2,000 different styles. You can purchase EndNote for $113.95.

 “I’m a big fan of EndNote. It allows for organization and filtering by name of the author, title, year, etc. It allows you to take notes right through the program or you can attach your own notes to each article. For each reference I pull in I attach the PDF file, a notes page and a bibliography at the minimum.” Christopher Boulter (Ph.D., Psychology, candidate)

  • Evernote allows students and researchers to collect information from anywhere and save it in one single place: from notes, web clips, files, images and more, on any device. They offer MAC and Windows versions. Evernote offers free and premium accounts.

“I used and continue to use Evernote. Great for annotated bibliographies that are easily searchable – and by always using proper APA format, I only have to type the full citation once. The other times are just copy and paste.” Wayne Perry, Ph.D. (Director of Clinical Training, School of Marriage and Family Sciences, NCU)

“I tried EndNote and just didn’t find it to be a good fit for me (no specific issues, just felt a bit too structured). I ended up keeping references and notes in Evernote, which I could use from anywhere including on my phone and iPad. I saved PDFs into a system of folders set up by topic, and often used the Spotlight search feature on my Mac to search within these for authors or keywords.” Russell Walker (Ph.D., Business Administration, 2012)

  • RefWorks is a research management, writing and collaboration tool offered through the NCU Library’s institutional subscription. NCU began offering RefWorks in 2009. Workshops and tutorials on RefWorks may be accessed from the Library Workshop Videos or Quick Tutorial Videos pages.  Or, check for the availability of live training on RefWorks by visiting the Library Workshops Schedule page.

“RefWorks is a good tool for organizing research within the Library and is commonly available among databases making it easy to export citations directly into a RefWorks account. Within RefWorks you can organize citations into folders for easy reference and quickly produce an APA formatted reference list as well as create in-text citations within a document. Although we highly recommend students still consult the APA manual for confirmation.” Ed Salazar, M.A. (NCU Librarian)

 “When I wrote my dissertation, I used RefWorks. While there is a learning curve, it also provides the greatest amount of flexibility in the longer term. However, today I generally use Zotero for scholarly/academic work. While there is a free version, it is worth the $20 per year charge for the security of having a cloud-based backup of your reference database and notes.” Frank Cervone (Ph.D., Business Administration, 2007)

“RefWorks has developed a tool called Write-N-Cite, which not only converts Word’s XML file and synchronizes it to the online references, but allows in-text citation and reference list building in APA 6th ed. format. I highly recommend Write-N-Cite, because then your citation database isn’t limited to your device. There are drawbacks with this setup, as you must edit and organize your citations through RefWorks online.” David Czuba (Ed.D., Leadership in Higher Education, candidate)

*Originally published in Higher Degrees Fall 2013.

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