I have been an RN (Registered Nurse) for a very long time. We are talking decades. In my first decade working as a nurse, I made a conscious decision not to pursue my bachelor’s in nursing (BSN). Due to loads of lifting and really long shifts, I could not imagine adding studying on top of my typical workweek. So, no thanks, this girl was not interested in that BSN.
Then my life took a turn. My husband was offered a sabbatical year at work; an entire year off with pay. Simultaneously, my employer adopted the expectation that all nurses get their BSN before the year 2020, mandatorily. It was 2013 and with my husband getting a year off himself, it just made sense for me to finally get that BSN now that I had to.
I was accepted into UC’s RN to BSN program. It was online which would be a whole new experience for this old nurse. They had invented the internet since I last went to school. Regardless, I jumped in. My husband assumed every single home life and child responsibility for the next 9 months.
I worked full-time and took three classes a semester, three semesters in a row for my BSN.
It was a huge workload for me but I had a lot of family support, so it flew by. Every two weeks during that year, I would literally plan every minute/hour/day/week of mine. I had daily, weekly, and quarterly assignments while simultaneously working and mothering three boys. I was a well-executed two-week at-a-time planner.
One reason I had never thought the BSN was for me was because I was one of the first in my family to ever graduate from college. Getting my RN was such a pinnacle for me and an unheard-of achievement for my childhood family. I felt like I had already kind of checked that elusive college box. But BSN classes challenged me in a bigger way than I expected. I loved being an adult learner. I loved getting the textbooks out on my dining room table in the evening, sitting alongside my kids doing their own homework as well. I was proud of myself and my kids were watching. How about that magic kind of role modeling in their young lives?!
It has now been five years since I completed my BSN. I am so glad that I did end up getting it. I was able to obtain a much-unexpected job in nursing leadership after I graduated. It was a huge step for me professionally that would not have been available to me as an RN. My BSN also gave me such a sense of personal accomplishment.
I never knew how good those three little letters (B-S-N) would make me feel.
To think now of how many job doors that have been thrown wide open because of my BSN blows my mind. I have now been in nursing leadership for the last eight years because of my path. I have learned how much a college degree can really change your life and not just the letters behind your name on a signature.
That summer day when I walked across the stage of the UC auditorium to shake the college president’s hand and accept my degree was a dream come true. I just didn’t know it was a dream for me until I was in that graduating class with my husband, kids, and parents in the audience. It still can make me emotionally soar when I think about it.
I had never done the “cap and gown” graduation either. Registered nurses, in my day, graduated in their white uniform and their white nursing caps and received a special pin. That white cap still is tucked away somewhere in a memory box alongside other mementos. I got to wear the cap and gown, though, in my fourth decade of life at my bachelor’s graduation and I soaked up every moment of it.
There are few moments that are truly ephemeral in one’s life. Those moments that light up like fireworks in my life’s trajectory. In those moments, I am proud of myself. The sense of personal accomplishment buoys and boosts me personally in a way that was so unexpected. I love education. I love my BSN. I love new challenges. Much like the one to write my own blogs and see them get published.
As I grow older and closer to that 50-year mark, it is a sensational experience to look back at the milestones that have made it worth all the while. It is a pretty awesome thing to feel so darn proud of my degree. To be proud of myself… me, little old me.