Many of the choices we make today are influenced by the experience of others. Just think how many times you've turned to Yelp or the "reviews" section of a company's website to help with a purchasing decision. While some of the negative reviews might be unfair and some of the good ones might sound suspicious, you can typically get a sense of what to expect.
For registered nurses who are thinking about pursuing their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, there's no better representation of a school's atmosphere, quality of education and level of support than the graduates who have been through the program. This is especially true for online degree programs, which some students find a bit daunting.
"I didn't think I would be disciplined enough in an online program," stated Ellyn Schlageter, graduate of the University of Rhode Island online RN to BS in Nursing program. "I thought, 'I need to be in a classroom with a chalkboard and have a teacher there to tell me what to do,' but it was really good. I felt like I was part of a classroom with the forums, because you do get to know your classmates and you do interact with each other. I didn't think I would like it as much as I did."
The online format gave Danielle Cerbo, another URI graduate, the opportunity to maintain her full-time job while taking the required courses. She also found the course structure to be manageable. "I took two classes every seven weeks," Cerbo said. "I work nights, so that worked fairly well for me because I could do my homework during the day. The courses in the program were set up where they were staggered and different things were due on different days of the week, so I didn't struggle to get everything that was due in on time."
Finding Your Nursing "Super Power"
For some, the decision to pursue a nursing degree results from a personal event. That was certainly the case for Michael Montefusco, who graduated from URI's online RN to BS in Nursing program in June 2018. Montefusco's wife, Irene, suffered complications during childbirth, putting both her and the baby at risk.
"The baby was presenting incorrectly, so he was getting crushed in the birth canal. Just by watching monitors, doing assessments on my wife and looking at little squiggly lines printed on a piece of paper, the nurse on duty knew immediately that my wife needed a Caesarean section instead of a natural birth. My wife and my baby were saved because of this nurse's actions," he shared.
The heroism the nurse displayed that day inspired Montefusco to enter the profession and earn his own "super powers." He encourages others to do the same and has high praise for the real-world knowledge and aspects of the curriculum at URI. One course he found to be particularly helpful was NUR 447: Adult Health and Assessment.
"The assessment course was interactive and a really cool course," he said. "You could go online and interact with and perform a physical assessment on a patient, all through the computer. You could ask questions, and the patient would respond to you. Then, you were able to use a stethoscope or a pen light to look into their eyes. It was one of the harder classes, but it was one of my favorites because it taught me a lot."
Why Online Programs Allow for "Family First"
Students with families have even more to consider when thinking about going back to school. As a parent, it's difficult to be away from spouses but even harder to miss time with your children. Arthur Taylor didn't have to make that sacrifice while he pursued his BSN degree online at URI.
"At night, my son would go to bed around 8:30. Once he went to bed, everybody was kind of doing their own thing. I would do my schoolwork from 8:30 to about 11, four nights a week. It worked out well for me," he noted.
Taylor also appreciated the extra time he saved — and could dedicate to either homework or spending time with his son — by not having to commute to the campus. "The commute time alone was a half-hour to an hour each way," he added. "That was time I didn't have to leave my house, and I could get two hours of work done."
You're Not in This Alone
One concern many students have with online programs is the level of support they'll receive from both administrative staff and instructors. Deborah Kosior found that to be a non-issue when going through the RN to BS in Nursing program at URI. In fact, she ended up thriving in the online-only program — even more so than a previous hybrid RN to BSN program at Boston's Labouré College.
"I am so pleased … from the curriculum to the professors and nursing administration staff," she said. "They are so supportive. When I had a question, I contacted administration. The assistant dean called me back. I was wondering about my transfer classes from Labouré. She was so helpful. Everyone is very helpful. I don't think you get that with many of the online colleges. URI is a great school. I'm very satisfied."
No matter if you're a young nurse just entering the field, a veteran nurse, or if nursing is a second (or even third) career, the online RN to BS in Nursing program at URI has been highly rewarding and valuable for these graduates. Taylor believes it can serve anyone who is interested in furthering their career with a BSN degree.
"I feel like you put your nose down and do it, because the time is going to go by anyway," he stated. "Isn't it better that in two years or less you come out the other end with a degree in your pocket rather than nothing? It's definitely a doable program."
Learn more about the URI online RN to BS in Nursing program.
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