When trying to decide on a professor to interview for class only one former professor came to mind, Julie Fagan. Julie was the professor of my first clinical rotation back in my junior year during my time in the nursing program. I had a fantastic experience with her and I was able to learn a lot from her. The following fall semester she taught both the Pediatric/Maternity class and did the maternity clinical rotation with us. Maternity was definitely one area where I didn’t have the most confidence but Julie helped my through the rotation and by the end I was at a point where I was comfortable being on an OB unit. Throughout my time in the nursing program Julie was always there to help not only myself but anyone else who needed it and I am very grateful for this opportunity to find out more about her other work.
I started out the interview by asking Julie, “What do you teach?” She stated, “I teach in the nursing program, and I would say that I teach across the curriculum meaning fundamentals, pediatrics and maternal newborn care, and informatics and quality improvement. For clinicals I teach psych, pediatrics, OB, and fundamentals.” As one can see Julie knows how to stay busy by teaching an array of classes.
The second question I asked was “What did you study in college/grad school?” I was surprised to find out that her first undergraduate degree was in interdisciplinary experiential learning from The Evergreen State College where she studied everything from environmental studies to creative writing to history. From there she went to nursing school and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in nursing and went on to get her Master’s degree in nursing education.
For my next question I asked her, “What are you currently working on?” to which she responded, “I am currently working toward my doctorate in education. Right now, I am taking CAGS classes, which are advanced graduate courses. I plan to apply to the doctorate in education program here at PSU which would be four summers starting this next summer.”
Next I asked Julie, “How do you work with scholars outside of your field?” She responded by saying, “Unfortunately I don’t get to work with a lot of scholars outside of my field which is too bad. I do have one small collaborative project this year where I bring students over to the center for young children and families. So, I bring nursing students there for the experience of working with children between the ages of 13 months to 5 years just to understand developmental differences. We also have another cluster project with the HHP program, it’s one thing I look forward to with the cluster initiative here on campus being able to have more interdisciplinary projects and classes going. I find that it would really add to student and faculty experiences.”
My next question for Julie was, “How do you work with non-academics in your professional life?” She talked about when she brings her students to different clinical facilities and works with nurses who are not currently enrolled in any academic program or classes. Those staff members work at the facility doing patient care while she is there as a clinical instructor. She talks about the staff bringing the hands on experience to the table while the students and herself bring more of the academic piece. It brings together current practice, best practice and traditional practice which are good discussions to have with students.
For my sixth question I asked, “Do you partake in any interdisciplinary work currently?” She responded by saying, “the crossover between what I teach and what I study, taking the advanced graduate classes there is a lot of interdisciplinary work and I find for the papers that I need to write and the research topics that I need to choose I am usually bringing in a healthcare related or academic nursing focus on that work.
Another question that I asked Julie was, “Do you believe that interdisciplinary courses should be taught at all colleges?” she replied with “Yes, having my first undergraduate degree be completely interdisciplinary was a fantastic way to learn. I think what it does is that it takes students minds out of this compartmentalized way of looking at any subject and it promotes thinking about how different disciplines are related. For example; history and nursing, communication and administration, or social justice and ethics. That’s what you can get with an interdisciplinary approach.”
The last question I asked Julie was, “What do you think the benefits are of having an interdisciplinary major?” she responded by saying “I think that it develops a way of thinking that is much more holistic and inclusive and opens people’s minds to ideas that they never would have thought about if they only thought about the subject that they were studying. It broadens every subject that is included in the interdisciplinary approach. It just keeps people curious about the world. Learning should never stop.”
I was very surprised to find out that Julie’s first undergraduate degree was in interdisciplinary studies. She was very knowledgeable about the major and I was able to improve my understanding of the major while I’m still new to it. I had an awesome time interviewing Julie who is always happy to share her thoughts and wisdom with others. She will be a fantastic person to be able to bounce ideas off of as this semester continues.