Angel Medical Center, Franklin, NC

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1 Mission Health RNs Comment about their RN to BSN Experience by Cherry Odom, BSN, RN-BC Editor, Caring Connection Mission Health Nursing Education and Research, Asheville, NC With the increased national focus on more RNs earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, many Associate Degree (ADN) and Diploma nurses are exploring options to advance their education and are wondering what it would be like to be back in school. Two nurses from each of Mission Health s five hospitals in Western North Carolina agreed to provide their thoughts about their own recent or current experience in attaining a BSN. Each of them addressed these questions: Why did you go back to school to get your BSN? What were/are your barriers or challenges in going back to school? What opportunities or growth did you experience from getting/working toward the degree? How has going back to school affected your nursing practice and/or perspective about your work? Following are photos and comments of each nurse arranged in alphabetical order by hospital name. Angel Medical Center, Franklin, NC Christy Vinson-Griffin, RN Medical/Surgical unit, bedside and charge nurse I anticipate finishing my BSN in I wanted to further my education for possible advancement in my career in the future. I also enjoy the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment. It has been 18 years since I graduated with my Associate Science nursing degree; things have changed considerably with regards to class work. Everything is computerized. That has been a challenge but also a good learning process. My other challenge is just the old how do you find time for everything-- work, school, and general life? But by taking it slowly, it has not been too hard. I have not yet experienced any new opportunities, as I am currently going to school and have not yet pursued any advancement. I believe [going back to school] has given me more confidence. It is a good feeling to know that I can accomplish this and that I am not too old to learn new things. I can keep up with or even surpass the efforts and work of younger students. I also feel that my life experience gives me a different perspective on classes and work alike. I definitely think that returning to school, while challenging, has been very rewarding. Page 1 of 7 RNs comment on RN to BSN Experience 2013 Caring Connection; posted mission-health.org

2 Connie Srubar-Soule', BSN, RN Emergency Department, staff nurse I finished my BSN on December 15, When I obtained my ADN in 1990, few nurses had a bachelor s degree. I had a family to raise, and it did not really seem necessary. As nursing changed, I felt a need to learn more about my field--not just about clinical skills but research, leadership and other areas where nursing has expanded. This meant going back to school. It was part of a personal journey to continue learning. The most difficult barrier was time management and, of course, financial considerations. It is difficult to work full time, be a single mother and have time to study. You have to rearrange your priorities and be organized. Financially, it meant incurring student loans. I was lucky not to have incurred loans during my ADN degree. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to return to school. I also think it strengthened my relationship with my children, as we often sat together late at night studying at the dining room table. The most wonderful opportunity I had was getting to go to Scotland. As part of an international nursing course, I was able to present at Napier University in Edinburgh on the growing changes in American healthcare. I also had the opportunity to spend time in the Royal Infirmary Hospital emergency room observing universal healthcare and nursing protocols in the United Kingdom. It was a life changing experience. Going back to school gave me a sense of empowerment. I love that nursing is such a diverse field and the opportunities it affords allow me to grow and learn on a daily basis. I have also learned much about conflict management and leadership, the importance of evidence based practice, and how to provide better patient care. Work is no longer work; it is an opportunity. Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, Spruce Pine, NC Pam Blevins, RN Director, Clinical Informatics I will finish my BSN in May, I enjoy being a lifelong learner and wanted to further my education which will assist in my professional position. My biggest challenges are being away from my family and juggling school and work schedules with family commitments. Going back to school has broadened my knowledge and exposed me to various opportunities and challenges. I am meeting new people who have become my friends. It has allowed me to improve time management skills. Thanks for this opportunity [to share my experience]. I would suggest that every RN consider the possibility of advancing their career. You are never too old to learn. Page 2 of 7 RNs comment on RN to BSN Experience 2013 Caring Connection; posted mission-health.org

3 Scarlett Cox, RN Emergency Services, bedside nurse I am scheduled to finish my BSN in May of Healthcare is continuously changing. Knowledge required of nurses is on the rise, and expectations are high. Patients are our focus but our work environment is also of high importance. By learning more about education, teaching, etc., I can be of more help to my patients and my team of nurses. I am a full-time employee, and available time for school is rare. On top of family, work, church and several other groups/things I am involved in, setting aside time for school has been difficult. I keep reminding myself of my achievement and the goal I will reach with all this hard work and dedication. I have learned to adapt to different personalities and have incorporated my attitude as a positive influence by looking at the "bright side." I try to be cheerful, not only for my co-workers but for my family too. I have also been able to step back and listen to others instead of focusing on my opinion and ideas. Then I can incorporate each individuals "say" and present an idea that may work for all by having a broad answer that incorporates several ideas to make every person s input valuable. [Going back to school has given me] a new found appreciation for our nurse managers and educators. With healthcare changes taking place every day, work for them is constant, and research is of the essence. I highly appreciate each and every thing our managers and educators do for us each day. Thank you for this opportunity and recommendation [to share my thoughts]! Nursing is such a great career choice; it has truly changed my life! McDowell Hospital, Marion, NC Donna Jhant, RN Program Manager for Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehabilitation I am currently in school to earn my BSN. I went back to school to increase my knowledge base, which will in turn assist me in my management role. The biggest barrier is obtaining financial assistance. Finding time to multitask and juggle work, home, family and school [is a challenge too]. I have been out of school for 30 years. Going back to school has been an eye opener. The use of the computer has opened a whole world that was not available when I was in college in the 1980 s. I have enjoyed the classes and meeting new people of all ages. The education has made me more comfortable in my management role. Page 3 of 7 RNs comment on RN to BSN Experience 2013 Caring Connection; posted mission-health.org

4 Heather Burleson, RN Labor and Delivery, bedside nurse I will finish my BSN in May, I went back to school to further by career opportunities and to set a good example for my boys, showing them how important getting a college degree will be in the future. My challenges are my three rambunctious little boys and working two jobs. [Getting this degree] is expanding my knowledge base and will help me keep up with the everyday changes in the healthcare field. I realize how important it will be in the future to have a higher education degree in order to have a wider range of healthcare knowledge and provide the best care possible to my patients. In trying to decide which school to attend for my BSN, I found that Winston Salem State has the best curriculum and class schedule to fit my full time work. Mission Hospital, Asheville, NC Cecil Greck, BSN, RN, CCEMT-P, PNCCT Mountain Area Medical Airlift (MAMA), Flight nurse I graduated with my BSN on May 7 th, 2011, from Lees-McRae College. It has always been a personal goal to continue my education and to return to school to complete the Bachelor s portion of my nursing degree. I am also pursuing re-entering the Air Force Reserves as a Flight Nurse. At this time, they require a BSN to enter as an officer. As with anyone returning to school, I had to adjust my work schedule to accommodate attending classes. I made a financial plan to cover the cost not reimbursed through Mission Hospital s tuition reimbursement program. I realized there was never going to be a perfect time to return to school. I just had to make up my mind and make the commitment. Returning to school definitely required that I prioritize my schedule and make the most of my personal time. I had to dedicate a specific number of hours each week to school work, writing papers, research, and projects. This helped me to manage my work, school and personal time to maximize the hours in the day. Returning to school renewed my appreciation for learning and helped me to better understand statistics, research and areas of nursing outside my field of practice. Returning to school was initially very intimidating, but, once I was in the program, I realized that the majority of the students were experiencing the same anxieties as I was. This gave us a common bond that we all shared, and we learned and grew together. Page 4 of 7 RNs comment on RN to BSN Experience 2013 Caring Connection; posted mission-health.org

5 Heather Martin, BSN, RN Cardiology Intensive Care Unit, bedside nurse Co-chair, Nursing Informatics Council Representative, Nursing Practice Council I finished my BSN in December, I went back to school to show dedication to my profession, and I wanted to have the option to explore other areas of nursing that require higher education. My barriers and challenges were finances and time. Mission s Tuition Reimbursement covered almost all of my BSN costs. I was able to experience parts of nursing that I would not have been exposed to in my full time job. I also feel that I have a better understanding of nursing research and how to analyze research articles. I feel that going back to school has broadened my knowledge of my own clinical area but also of other areas of nursing. I also find myself focused on seeking best evidence practice. After receiving my BSN, I went straight into a Master s program in Nursing Administration at Western Carolina University. I keep this quote by Earl Nightingale in the back of my mind, Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. Transylvania Regional Hospital, Brevard, NC Corin Cuss, RN Emergency Department, bedside nurse Weekend charge nurse Staff education assistant to ED Manager I will graduate with my BSN on May 10, I have had a long term goal of getting my Master's degree in nursing & my Nurse Practitioner (NP) with my mid-wife license ever since I decided to become a nurse. Getting my BSN is just a step I need to take in order to complete my goals. Also I love school, although I am kind of tired of it now. I have been in school non-stop for 24 of my 28 years. I love learning new things. I feel we should never stop learning and never stop being open to new experiences. I feel I will be a life-long student. I started my prerequisites for my BSN immediately after graduation from nursing school (ADN). Some of the challenges I faced in going back to school are being married and having a daughter. Having a family and working full-time as a nurse does not leave much time for school and studying. I had to learn to prioritize and manage my time better. Also the financial aspect was pretty tricky. I did not qualify for financial aid anymore. It was hard to find scholarships for someone that was considered to have enough money to pay full-time school tuition. I took out a small loan, and my hospital provided some financial support through the education reimbursement program. Page 5 of 7 RNs comment on RN to BSN Experience 2013 Caring Connection; posted mission-health.org

6 I have had the opportunity to learn about many aspects of nursing that I did not know about previously. There were many fields of nursing that were only briefly touched upon in ADN nursing school; going for my BSN has allowed me to explore these further. I have always been good at managing my time, but going back to school while working full-time has made me even more capable in doing this. I also appreciate my time off from school between semesters even more, because I spend it with my family. It has also confirmed my original plans of going on to get my Master's degree and NP / Nurse-Midwifery. Assisting my manager in doing education for our ED staff has allowed me to apply things I have learned in school, as well as continue to learn new things myself. I love to teach, and this lets me incorporate it into my nursing. Going back to school has made me appreciate my ED team more and how well we all work together. During (ADN) nursing school and my BSN education, I had to work with some people on group projects that were very difficult. This gave me insight in handling difficult situations at work and with patients. I have also become more assertive and speak up more frequently, when I believe something needs to be done, especially if it affects patients and their safety or involves best practice. Going back to school has also reminded me that there is so much more I can learn, and if I do not know something, looking it up or doing a literature review is the best way to learn. Over the past three and one half semesters, I have become more interested in and aware of evidence-based nursing practice and am better at doing a literature review. I have learned how to produce a well-written essay and/or research paper (although I am still not particularly fond of them). I would recommend getting your Bachelor s to anyone who is interested in it or on the fence. It is hard and time consuming, but it is a great tool to further your nursing knowledge. It gives you great opportunities to work with others and see and learn new things. It may also help to affirm that you do or do not want to [follow a certain path] in your nursing career. This has been a great, although trying, journey for me, but I am very happy I stuck to my goals and finished! Lisa Chappell, RN Case Manager Case Management/Utilization Review for entire hospital I will finish my BSN in May, I had always planned on returning to school to obtain my BSN. I was a charge nurse on the Medical Surgical unit and started taking prerequisite courses. I applied for and was offered a position in Case Management contingent on my pursuit and completion of a BSN as soon as possible. My two biggest challenges in going back to school are work schedule and finances. Two of the prerequisite classes I took this past year were not available online. Fortunately, I had transitioned into the Case Management role and was able to leave work for the class and make up the time in the evening. Sometimes, if I was dealing with patients or their family, I would be late for class or miss class all together. I plan to participate in Western Carolina University s RN-BSN program starting this fall. The course curriculum is entirely online, so that will solve the work scheduling challenge. Paying for tuition is a concern. I was completely reimbursed by Transylvania hospital for the 15 hours of prerequisite classes I took this past year. I know the tuition at WCU will be higher than community college, but I should be able to have two years of tuition reimbursement to help defray the cost. I took an oral communications class last year that I have found very useful, when speaking in larger groups. I am looking forward to being immersed in the nursing curriculum soon. Returning to school to further my degree has given me more confidence and broadened my perspective of the nursing profession. Page 6 of 7 RNs comment on RN to BSN Experience 2013 Caring Connection; posted mission-health.org

7 Special thanks go to the Mission Health staff members who provided photos: Angel Medical Center--Bonnie Peggs, Director, Marketing and Public Relations Blue Ridge Regional Hospital--Vicki Tolley BSN, RN, Emergency Department Director and Nursing Education Coordinator McDowell Hospital--Joshua Ball, Marketing/Event Coordinator Mission Hospital--Becky Upham, Marketing Transylvania Regional Hospital--Rodney Foushee, MBA, Marketing and Business Development Manager Page 7 of 7 RNs comment on RN to BSN Experience 2013 Caring Connection; posted mission-health.org

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