Two longtime nurses at Loyola University Health System recently proved it’s never too late to return for a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“We’re always learning and evolving,” said Vivien Jobb, 60, BSN, RN-BC, a grandmother of three.
Jobb has worked in nursing for more than 40 years, the last 18 years with Loyola Medicine. She earned an associate’s degree early in her career and never gave up on her original goal to complete a bachelor’s degree, which she put on hold to raise a family and practice her profession.
For the past eight years, Jobb has worked at Loyola Center for Health at La Grange Park, as has her friend and colleague Mary Splitt, BSN, RN, 54. Like Jobb, Splitt, an employee with Loyola for 18 years, the past 11 as a nurse, always has wanted to complete her bachelor’s degree, but family issues forced her to put it off.
“It is important for quality of care to have more background in various diseases and knowledge about how you can help [patients],” Splitt said.
The two nurses decided to enroll in Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing’s RN-to-BSN program in 2013. The online program allows RNs to complete all courses electronically and obtain a BSN degree in one to three years, depending upon the number of courses taken per semester.
“It brings them to the next level of critical thinking — how to measure outcomes and interpret research and apply the research for quality nursing care,” said Vicki Keough, PhD, APRN-BC, ACNP, FAAN, dean of the Loyola school of nursing. The program also focuses on leadership, the national healthcare agenda, community care, health promotion, and disease prevention and management. Keough said it’s not unusual for experienced nurses to take the RN-to-BSN program to improve their skills and for the satisfaction of completing the degree.
Splitt appreciated the flexibility of being able to log on whenever she had time and found it was not as difficult as she expected.
“It was an excellent program,” Jobb said. “It was great to achieve this without having to go into a classroom. All the course work was focused on you as a professional and enriching.”
Both nurses work in an ambulatory dermatology clinic, caring for patients with skin cancer, wounds and cosmetic surgeries. The two nurses found their employer supportive of their efforts to gain more education, and Loyola held a celebration to honor the two when they graduated in May.
“I’d encourage other nurses to do it,” Splitt said. “It’s going to be required down the road for RNs to have a BSN.”
The Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report recommended 80% of nurses hold bachelor’s degrees by 2020.
Jobb said many people questioned why she returned to school when she was so close to retirement age, but she is not ready to give up her practice.
“Age doesn’t play into it,” Jobb said. “One beauty of nursing is always learning, and finding what more you can do for patients.”