With over 20 years of experience at the bedside, Sandra’s nursing experience includes time spent working in oncology, neonatal intensive care, emergency room case management, utilization review, denial and appeals management, correctional health, and nursing education.
Sandra earned her master’s degree through an online degree program. While she was successful, she didn’t feel she received the guidance and attention she deserved.
“I was a faceless cipher,” she said. “I paid a lot of money to earn my degree, and I got very little support.”
But her experience is what motivates her to connect with the students she works with, from the admissions process through their completion of their degree.
“I will be there to shake their hand when they graduate,” she said.
Sandra is available to students seven days a week, fielding phone calls and emails from students about everything from enrollment, to coursework, to technical issues. She regularly reaches out to students, too.
“Sometimes they need a nudge,” she said.
Most importantly, Sandra said she makes it a point to keep tabs on her students and what they are going through outside of the digital classroom. This is where her experience as a nurse helps her provide extra support.
“If [a student] tells me, ‘I work in the NICU and I have three babies in critical condition right now, so I couldn’t get school work done this week’ I understand that,” she said. “Others might not get that. They’d say ‘school is school.’ But I’ve been in their shoes.”
And because she’s experienced working full-time while attending school online, “they can’t get any excuses by me,” she said with a laugh.
Sandra’s biggest advice to individuals looking at online education is to find the determination to self-pace.
“You have to be motivated to do an online program,” she said. “You just have to it take one course at a time.”
Her other piece of advice to those considering an RN to BSN program? “Just do it.”
“Nursing education is changing,” she said. “It’s getting to the point where a bachelor’s degree is what’s needed for entry-level [positions]. If you want to stay in the market for a job, it’s what you should do.”
And, most importantly, ongoing education is an important part of the profession. “When you come out of RN school, they encourage life-long learning, and that’s why you should go back to school for your BSN. It helps you maintain that status of a life-long learner,” she said.
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