After more than a decade in nursing, Janita Mastin decided she wanted to try something different.
“I thought I’d give teaching a try and I love it,” the Forsyth County resident said. “I do well at it, too. My students are thrilled to death.”
She started teaching at Lanier Technical College, but with only a bachelor’s degree in nursing was limited to instruction up to the associate degree level.
So 15 months ago, she enrolled in the nursing education master’s program at North Georgia College & State University.
Mastin, along with eight others from across the area, graduated from the master’s program Saturday. Two of the women have already accepted jobs.
The others won’t be too far behind, said program coordinator Michelle Byrne, citing a shortage of nurses and educators.
“These graduate students will enable hundreds of undergraduate students’ entry into practice,” she said.
“Not only do nurse educators have to be excellent with their clinical skills, but they have to understand pedagogy and how students learn, and know how to maximize that teaching time in the hospital.”
Mastin said the program has made her a better educator. It’s also made her more versatile and marketable.
She plans to look for teaching opportunities at local universities or government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“With a master’s, since I will have the curriculum development and other core courses I’ve taken with the program, it will give me the knowledge that I need to actually meet the requirements that they’re looking for in education,” she said.
The program was rigorous and North Georgia set high standards and expectations. But as an Air Force flight nurse, Mastin was up to the challenge.
Once she does decide on a teaching position, Mastin will continue her commitments as a nurse in the Air Force Reserve.
“I’ve never stopped being a nurse,” she said. “I’ll still get to use my skills.”
Between her Air Force service and working as an adjunct professor at Lanier Tech, Mastin joked that she has a few gray hairs.
But she had a huge support system in her family and the other eight students in the program, who she said have become “close-knit.”
“We actually made it through the program together, so it was really good to have that kind of support, to have others to talk to and to share the best and the worst with,” she said. “I have made some really good friends.”