(Content courtesy of Chamberlain College of Nursing)
Joyce Ellis, BSN, RN, CDE decided to pursue the RN to BSN Online Option at Chamberlain College of Nursing when she found her job search limited, despite more than 40 years of experience as a nurse.
During her time in the program, Ellis earned top grades, graduated with President’s Honors and was offered a new position. The experience of advancing her education had a deep and lasting impact on her — even spurring her to consider pursuing a master’s degree.
“I had thought, ‘I will just get this piece of paper and I’m not going to learn anything new. I’ve been a nurse for 40 years,’” she said. “I learned so much. I learned so many things. I found that when I went to meetings at work, I even used language that I had never used before and that helped me stand out.”
Ellis and other alumni of Chamberlain’s RN to BSN Online Option shared some of the unexpected ways earning a bachelor’s degree has benefitted them both personally and professionally.
“I really enjoyed communicating with nurses from all over the country at various stages in their nursing careers,” Theresa Peters, BSN, RN, a nurse at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, said. “There is so much that we can learn from each other.”
Nurses with diverse experiences and backgrounds come together in the program’s online environment. Through online discussions, students learn from one another, as well as the nursing faculty, and gain a broader perspective on care. “Completing the BSN program has improved my nursing judgement and also enabled me to see how other parts of the country handle patient care,” said graduate Kelli Mowrer, BSN, RN.
When Donna Castellani, MSN, RN, started back to school, she was amazed at how her professors supported and inspired her within the online environment. “During my second or third nursing course, I realized the excitement of learning had been sparked within me again,” she said. “The professors I had in the online environment were so knowledgeable and supportive that they inspired me to pursue teaching as a career.”
Castellani decided to continue her education through the RN-BSN to MSN Online Option, Educator Specialty Track, and today is a faculty member on Chamberlain’s North Brunswick campus.
“The program helped me grow in multiple ways,” Peters said. “I became very acquainted with my computer, so developing computer skills was a plus.”
The thought of going back to school after 40 years and taking online courses was a bit daunting for Ellis. “Being an older student, I don’t have the computer skills of a 20-year-old,” she said. “The first time I had to take a quiz, I took it at my son’s house only because I was panic-stricken that my computer would crash. He put me in a quiet room, and we had two computers set up.”
Her comfort with navigating a computer quickly increased, with the added reassurance of 24/7 availability of the helpdesk to address any technical issues she encountered along the way.
“Personally, I am more confident today as a practitioner,” said Mowrer. “Evidence-based practice was an eye-opening class that improved my practical work the most.”
Ellis also saw how topics covered in her courses such as statistics applied directly to her nursing practice. “Statistics is so vital to reading studies,” she said. “I had even worked as a clinical research coordinator, but had never really understood how to read the studies the way that I do now.”
“I love feeling the pride that comes with having my BSN,” said Kathleen Hill, BSN, RN, a clinical nurse manager. “My BSN says to my coworkers that I study, analyze, interpret and demand evidence that supports my nursing practice. I wish I had returned to school 30 years ago.”
Ellis’ son told her to put her diploma somewhere that she could look at it every single day. She chose her living room. “I did it for me and I’m really proud,” she said. “The first time I wrote BSN, RN, CDE, was amazing. In my Capstone course, the professor explained why you put the BSN first — because no one can ever take your Bachelor of Science in Nursing. That will be with me forever.”
Learn more about Chamberlain’s RN to BSN Online Option at the Chamberlain College of Nursing website.