Started the RN-BSN program in 2014, Graduated in December 2016
Why did you choose to a career in Nursing?
I had been a paramedic and enjoyed the higher level of training the nurses got, and the more technical work available to nurses.
What makes a great nurse in the field?
It takes compassion, and a combo of critical thought and solid training. You can have compassion and education but if you’re not critically sound you’re not helping anyone. A good nurse is compassionate, well-trained and has critical thinking.
What was your opinion about online learning prior to you applying to the program and how has your opinion changed since starting the program?
I had taken prerequisites for my associate’s in nursing online and it gave me an idea of what I was in for in terms of online education. At first I thought online classes would be easy and that I wouldn’t learn anything substantial. But I was completely wrong. The CN program was very educational and appropriate for working adults.
When I was young I hated being in class with adult learners. Younger students just wanted to get through the class, adult learners wanted to get something out of it. Taking classes online allows you to have more interaction with the professors. And the Carson-Newman professors never rushed through the material or rushed you through classes.
What factors influenced your decision to earn your BSN degree online?
At first I doubted what a BSN would it do what for me, but the hospital I worked for required it. It’s a magnet facility and they made me sign a piece of paper that said that I would earn a BSN – and they supported me during the program and helped me pay to for it.
Did you experience any barriers to learning online during your time as a student in the C-N Online RN-BSN program?
No, I didn’t have any problems. I was able to work full-time while in the program. Carson-Newman gave me credits for my previous education as well as my professional experience. It was clear that they were genuinely interested in advancing my education, not just getting more money from me.
As an RN, why was it important for you to earn a BSN degree?
I doubt I would have received a BSN if I didn’t need it for work (a Magnet facility). I always thought ADN nurses were better bedside and BSNs were more upwardly mobile. Now I have a deeper understanding of the upper-level thought process. When organizing your thoughts on how to approach patients – the BSN takes it to another level. An ASN just introduces you to issues in nursing– the BSN takes over from there. The BSN consists of deeper level classes with regards to individual patients or patient groups. As part of the Clinical Practicum, I got the opportunity to participate in a Homeless Community Foot Washing Program. After we washed and inspected their feet, we gave them new shoes, which was very important to them as they were living in the street. We also supported inner city programs by providing food, clothing, and worship services. It was a phenomenal experience. As a BSN, you see a more complete patient and you are a more complete nurse.
Why did you decide to earn your BSN from C-N?
Carson-Newman’s RN-BSN was by far the most economical program and the one most willing to work with my work schedule, plus the number of credits awarded for previous experience. Carson-Newman is a reputable and well-respected school. To have a C-N degree on your resume helps you in the interview process.
What has been your experience as an online BSN student at C-N?
The pace of the classes was appropriate for someone working full-time. There were some busy times but overall, I found the work load to be very manageable. With online classes, you can plan ahead and pace yourself. I was able to carve out enough time for my coursework, ahead of time.
When I started in college I didn’t do well in correspondence courses – but it was not the same thing in the C-N program. At Carson-Newman, you may be working by yourself but you are not alone.
How many hours a week are you dedicating to your studies?
About 8-10 hours a week.
Has your investment in the program been worth it?
Yes, very much so.
What advice do you have for potential students interested in the program?
If you take your job as a nurse seriously, you want to be the best you can be - for yourself, your career and your patients - you need a BSN. C-N was one of the few schools I finished that didn’t leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I didn’t feel rushed to get through anything and I never felt nickel and dimed. Carson-Newman means quality education led by quality staff.
What was your experience with the clinical practicum component of the curriculum?
I had experience working as a medic as well as a nurse, and Carson-Newman took that into consideration. I did not have to take duplicate courses. One area I did not have enough experience in was Community Health, so I had to take it.
We set up a Health Fair and conducted health screenings at my church. We conducted screenings for things like hypertension, dementia, fall risks, etc. and provided print outs of the findings so they could follow up with their health care providers regarding the results.
How have you been able to integrate some of the core classroom learnings and clinical practicum experience into your current job?
I work in a Cardiac Cath lab now. All of my patients are older. The Geriatrics class helped me really understand this population – which is more than 50% of my patients. Now I’m a lot more careful with the types of drugs they receive. Also, I now serve as the STEMI coordinator at my job. This class helped to prepare me for this type of nursing leadership role.
What is your experience with the faculty support?
The RN-BSN faculty were very supportive and responsive. They would always get back to you in a timely manner. The professors actually want to meet you if they can. I live near the campus and there were a couple of hands-on experiences the faculty support me with that went way above and beyond what was expected.
Which faculty member stands out the most?
I’m very pleased with all of faculty in the program, but Sue McBee stands out the most, mainly because I know her outside of work. A lot of this program is staked on her reputation. During the difficult community efforts that she lead, she was there with the students – in the inner city, on the street – day in day out – she was there.
How have you been able to connect and engage with your cohort and classmates since starting the program?
I got to know a few students in my cohort after meeting them in cyber space and I got to meet a few campus students as well. Plus, I got to know another student who’s uncle happened to be a friend of mine. Overall, there was more interaction with my cohort than I thought there would be.
How did C-N help to prepare you for a nursing career in the 21st century?
There was no current topic in nursing that the professors were unaware of. They could easily get lost in academia but they don’t – they still have their finger on the pulse of what their students was are discussing.
How have you developed professionally since starting the C-N RN-BSN program?
Our magnet facility has a Quest program with different goals (Evidence-Based Practice, etc.) and a substantial annual bonus upon completion – it really feels like it’s a continuation of what I did at C-N.
What are your career plans after graduation?
I still want to be a bedside nurse. I wouldn’t mind managing bedside nurses but I don’t want to become a Nurse Manager or earn an MSN even though my hospital will pay for it. In general, I feel “Nursing” is pushing nurses into master’s degrees where they graduate with a prescription pad in hand and little to no bedside experience. I think “Nursing” is killing the bedside nurse.