I have been a nurse for the past 13 years and am currently working as an admission registered nurse (RN) for a hospice. I started my nursing journey 14 years ago when I was accepted into the LPN program at a local community college. I didn’t think that I would become a nurse when I first started on this journey.
Growing up, my mom and both of my sisters became RNs and it was for that reason I said I never wanted to become a nurse. When people asked me if I planned to go to nursing school like everyone else, my answer was always: NO! Two years after having my youngest daughter, I decided to begrudgingly apply to nursing school. I started in the licensed practical nursing (LPN) program because it would only take a year of school. To my surprise, I fell in love with nursing!
Here are some tips and details of my story to help you understand my nursing journey from an LPN to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) pathway.
Why did you decide to continue your education?
Once I started my nursing career, I knew that I wanted to continue my education. It took me 11 years but I finally quit dragging my feet! Even during my years as an LPN, I would think about going back to school and working all my way towards a Master of Science in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP). I knew that going from an LPN to an RN would be an adjustment. As an LPN, if I were unsure of something, I would go to the RN - now, I would be the RN that others come to.
I applied to Herzing University and was accepted into the LPN-RN program. The instructors were great because they care about the students. I have stayed in contact with a couple of them since I graduated. My classmates were awesome. We pushed and supported each other through the ups and downs of nursing school and believe me, there are ups and downs!
Two years later, I decided to apply to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Herzing. I signed up for the BSN-MSN-FNP program since I wanted to learn as much as possible. It was scary, and it still is at times. I sometimes wonder if I can do this, but here I am still going strong!
What is it like taking classes online?
Taking online classes is different than in-person classes. I realized quickly that you must be disciplined enough to log in and do your work compared to just showing up to class. It helps to have an area set up for your work, especially if you need quiet time. Find out what works best for you. I try to break my study time into increments, so I don't get overwhelmed.
The program that I am enrolled in is quite challenging although it is worth it! There are a lot of class discussions and assignments due each week. These past two eight-week sessions, I have been enrolled in some master's level classes. These classes have helped me advance my research and writing skills. My advice for students who struggle with writing and research is to take advantage of the writing seminars and the librarians in the Herzing library.
Currently, I am in the informatics and research classes, and I have enjoyed them more than I thought I would. I have learned how to view research literature when searching for evidence-based practice. Since I started taking these classes, I have noticed that I have started looking at the data and sources more critically when I am researching for an assignment. I feel like this will help improve my practice.
I know that once I finish school, I will plan to take the ANCC exam to become Family Nurse Practitioner. I have not decided what area I would like to focus on once I've finished school. There are a few areas that I am leaning towards, but it is all really interesting to me. One thing is for certain, I am looking forward to the clinical experience and learning how to become a practitioner!
What is your advice for other nurses?
The advice I would give to someone trying to decide whether to go back to school would be to take a good look at where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Once you know where you want to be, you will know what path to take to get there. Please don't do it for someone else, do it because it is something you want to do.