After not being in school for 40 years, Cheryl B. made it her personal goal to earn her BSN. She learned about nursing theory and the importance of advancing the nursing profession. Obtaining her degree gave her the confidence needed to go along with her vast nursing experience.
This is her story.
Forty years ago, I began my journey as a nurse. I graduated from a hospital-based nursing program in which I earned my diploma in nursing. This diploma in nursing allowed me to become a very skilled nurse.
As a new graduate nurse, I was a sponge, absorbing all I could to understand, recognize, and react to signs and symptoms patients exhibited and assist patients in recovering from their illnesses. I learned how to delegate and manage people through experience. My forty-year journey as a nurse took me from a new graduate nurse to certifications in nephrology and infection control, a manager, director, administrator, and even a member of senior leadership. But somehow, I felt I was not credible. Something was missing, as there was not a degree in nursing associated with my name.
As we are aware, life has many twists and turns and takes us places we never imagined or dreamed. Some of these are good twists and turns, and some not so good. But, eventually, they lead us to where we need to be. My life and career were going well. I had a wonderful family, a great job, and a community where I both lived and worked. I was very comfortable with all of it. Still, I knew I wanted to return to school and obtain my degree in the back of my mind.
Then a little hurricane call Katrina entered my life. Talk about twists and turns! I lost my home, my job, my community, and eventually my marriage. I had to start over in many ways. But as luck would have it, I had a relatively easy time finding another job and advancing in that job since nurses were in such demand after the hurricane. My education was placed on hold for a few more years. Who had time for school when I was literally rebuilding my life?
But once again, life’s twists and turns happened. A chance encounter on a plane led me to marry my present husband. My initial conversation with him involved my desire to return to school.
In 2018, the journey to obtain my degree began. I was scared, worried, and concerned that I would fail. I did not tell anyone that I was going back to school to obtain my degree. After all, I had not been to school in almost forty years, and now I was going to attend school through online classes. But, I knew if I did not try, I would always wonder, what if?
Once in school, I began to realize the importance of advancing my degree and the nursing profession, as well. I learned the importance of research for developing best practices to keep patients safe. I now understand how vital community nursing is to our aging population. I know the importance of nurses being involved in a legislative and political level in order to advocate for patients everywhere. I also realize the urgent need to contain healthcare costs so that future generations have access to healthcare.
Until attending and obtaining my degree from Aspen University, I had not realized how much I did not understand in relation to nursing theory and how those who went before me pathed the way for nurses like me. Obtaining my degree has given me the confidence needed to go along with my vast nursing experience. It has opened so many doors in the few short months since obtaining my degree.
You are never too old to achieve your dreams and goals. I am not just a nurse. I am a nurse with a degree. I’m credible and so very proud!