If you’re a nurse, you’re probably already familiar with the many reasons to get your BSN.
It’s recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), you’ll improve your skills, and employers have a strong preference for BSN graduates.
But going back to school can be intimidating. Combining your unpredictable schedule with family and other outside commitments can seem impossible. How will you manage the time for school? Plus, is it really worth it? Will you learn anything that you haven’t learned on the job?
Three graduates from the first class of Capella University’s RN-to-BSN FlexPath format recently shared their concerns about starting a BSN program—and how FlexPath made all the difference.
Elizabeth Breckner already had an associate’s degree and wanted to continue on to a bachelor’s, but the longer she was away from school, the more daunting it seemed to return. “I knew I needed the bachelor’s degree for my career. But I dreaded it—I’d been away from school for so long already,” Breckner recalls.
She started researching programs, but the requirements seemed time-consuming for a full-time nurse with a young family. One night, she stumbled on the FreshRN blog from Kati Kleber, and read a post about FlexPath. The self-paced learning format seemed like a good fit, allowing her to set her own schedule around her work and family.
She found the coursework invigorating, even if she was intimidated at first. “I was nervous about the self-paced part—I worried that I wouldn’t learn as well that way, and it frightened me a little. But it turned out I learned a lot, and it opened my eyes to a broader nursing world. I really enjoyed my instructors, the feedback was amazing, and it definitely kept me motivated. It almost got addictive—I wanted to do better and keep the pace up as I went along,” she says.
Breckner was recently promoted to a full-time supervisory role. She knows that what she learned in her BSN program will help her in her new position. “I am more accomplished, and it gives me better credibility. I have a much wider knowledge base now, and I’m better able to do research and mentor others. The BSN has been beneficial to me, my patients, and my nurse colleagues,” she explains.
Michelle George had been a nurse for many years, first as an LPN and then an RN. But in order to reach a future goal of becoming a nurse practitioner, she knew she’d need to get a BSN. “I did my RN when my sons were one and four years old,” she says. “I knew that to do the BSN, I’d have to wait until they were older.” Six years later, George began researching programs. “I looked at a lot of different schools, regular and online, and then I learned about FlexPath. To set up your own pace, to pay as you go—it was just right for me.”
George is currently enrolled in a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program at another institution. She credits FlexPath with helping her move towards her career goal. “The ability to be so flexible, it’s just amazing,” she says. “You finish a class, you can start another one right away. You can’t beat it.”
Bobbi Jo Koons
Bobbi Jo Koons worked as an RN manager/education nurse coordinator for years, but a bachelor’s remained on her horizon. “I always wanted a four-year degree,” she says. “But I’m so busy at work, plus I coach diving for both the girls and boys swim seasons at the local high school, so my days are pretty full.”
When she began looking at options for a BSN, she had several concerns. “I was really worried it would be too hard,” Koons says. “I hadn’t been in school for 10 years. What if my mind wasn’t open to that kind of learning anymore?”
FlexPath proved that her mind was, in fact, very open to learning more. “I experienced so much growth through FlexPath,” she says. “I was really thrilled with it. I loved that it was so flexible. And the feedback from the instructors was awesome. Plus my FlexPath coach helped me focus better.”
Being able to proceed quickly at her own pace benefited not only Koons, but her employer, who reimbursed her tuition. She’s grateful to have the degree and to apply the new skills in her nursing career. “I want to give back to them,” she says, referring to her employer. “I feel like with my degree and knowledge, I can educate people interested in nursing about what the field has to offer.”