RN to BSN Journey


I went to a Hospital School 36 years ago where I later earned an RN Diploma and received a great education. A BSN at the time would have been a very difficult pursuit as I was only 17 and my parents were not convinced that making a University education possible for me was a worthy endeavor. Some of my peers endured the challenges of going back to school while working and raising children, but for a few reasons, I simply did not feel brave enough to even try.

My Perinatal Loss experience brought me opportunities to teach, write for publications and present at conferences. While my professional mentors were kind enough to not insult my level of education, I finally got to a place where I realized I was going to limit my opportunities to participate in the scholarship of my profession if I did not further my education.

So, many years after graduating from Union Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, I began the BSN course at the University of Mary Washington. Pivotal in the decision was my newlywed husband’s offer to fund my education. I had had children in college since 2007 and couldn’t imagine paying more tuition than I was already paying. His generosity tipped the scales in my decision making process.

Before I started my return, I was afraid. What I was afraid of might surprise you. I was, of course, afraid that I was painfully behind in needed tech savvy, that I would struggle through math class, and needing to learn to write according to APA guidelines would bring me to despair but there was more.

I was afraid that I was already so well informed that this whole thing would be a waste and I would learn nothing. Perhaps bigger than that, I was also deeply, internally afraid that I would learn really useful helpful things which would mean that I had been working without those helpful tools in my knowledge base for a long time and that might feel humiliating.

Well, I have completed 11 classes and have 4 to go – what do I think about all this now?

I’m very proud of myself for taking on the challenge. No one would have faulted me of I chose not to do it. My husband retired and I could have joined him shortly with no harm and no foul and the fact that I didn’t take that path gives me a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t hurt that THE VERY DAY I announced on Facebook that I was going back to school, a professional mentor invited me to coauthor a piece for a respected professional journal. That was a bit of immediate gratification that few students get and I was quite happy with it.

The truth is that I have learned things I didn’t know before, but as I learned, I didn’t feel humiliated, I felt fortunate.  I was fortunate enough to be a rare person these days who got to combine the wisdom of the ages of the old style of Nursing Education and the new waves of 21st Century Information Age of Nursing Education. 36 years ago I wore a cap and white pantyhose and learned Nursing “old school” and today I confer with colleagues across the globe and use computer networking to change the care of dying babies on planet earth – am I not the most fortunate nurse ever?

Another truth is that my old school peers and todays newbies each have strengths and weaknesses that we would be wise to recognize. I couldn’t believe it one day when I found myself telling an age-peer that she simple could not go any further with her project without doing a thorough internet literature review. My younger colleagues would do well to devote themselves to making sure that they can write grammatically correct sentences. No one in a position of completing a Bachelors degree should submit sentence fragments in a formal assignment.

Tomorrow I leave for Africa to teach a workshop and learn from amazing people. I hope to meet the Ethicist from the WHO in Geneva and I harbor secret hopes that I find some reason to buy a plane ticket to Geneva. I love my adventures, academic and otherwise…they make me feel capable and mighty. I encourage you to face whatever fears might beholding you back from whatever – you may just learn something.






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