The world’s not a stage. It’s a classroom.
“I don’t know that I’d ever want to stop learning. I think even if I got as far as I can go in nursing I’d still want to be learning something else,” said Angela Niday, a registered nurse and care coordinator at Family Health Center in Longview.
The 38-year-old RN is looking to add a few more letters at the end of her title: BSN.
With help from Lower Columbia College, her alma mater, Niday might not even have to drive to school to earn that bachelor of science in nursing degree, which health care providers are seeking in greater numbers.
Online nursing classes from Washington State University/Vancouver are available through a partnership with LCC, with in-person experience offered in Longview.
The ability to earn a BSN in Longview comes as a relief to the single mother of a 13-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.
“If I don’t do it now, I probably wouldn’t go to college again,” Niday said. “I’m kind of depending on being able to stay locally.”
In jobs she’s looked at, having a BSN is becoming more in-demand.
The Institute of Medicine in 2010 recommended that 80 percent of registered nurses have their BSN degrees by 2020. Karen Joiner, LCC’s nursing program director, said she is encouraging nurses to plan their time at LCC around further education.
A 4-year degree in nursing gives students a more comprehensive education, focusing on skills and knowledge beyond immediate bedside needs.
“The more educated our workforce, the better our patient outcomes,” Joiner said.
The college is hosting Transfer Day at the Student Center on Monday, also the first day of Nurse Appreciation Week. Eight, four-year schools will be represented to meet with students on RN-to-BSN programs.
“Having accessible RN-to-BSN education is crucial,” she said. “We are grateful for our ongoing collaboration with WSU/Vancouver nursing program, as it is the primary path utilized by our graduates to achieve a BSN.”
Kavita Palmore followed that path, getting her associate degree at LCC and finishing her BSN at WSU/Vancouver last May.
The hospice case manager with PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center said the BSN can be especially helpful for nurses who don’t have a lot of work experience under their scrubs.
“For me, I was practicing every day, learning a lot on the job,” said Palmore, a 27-year-old Ridgefield resident. “The bachelor’s just confirms what you love about nursing.”
Palmore pointed out that as recently as 20 to 30 years ago, nurses trained on the job, but they were eventually required to get a certificate, then an associate degree, and now a 4-year degree is the growing norm.
Although nothing changed at her job out of Ridgefield, which she intends to continue to thrive at, having the BSN is just part of the business of being a nurse today. And sometimes education for education’s sake is OK, too, she said.
Back in Longview, Angela Niday had a $10,000 scholarship for WSU/Vancouver after finishing at LCC in 2011, but she was also offered a full-time job at Family Health Center. She couldn’t be a full-time mom, full-time nurse and full-time student, so the BSN went on the backburner.
The Castle Rock graduate says the 4-year degree will move her forward and help her find out even deeper what she’s best suited for.
“It’s a lot of learning as I go, even at 38,” Niday said. “But that’s what I try to teach my kids too: don’t have this narrow focus, and recognize there are all these other opportunities. I almost wish I had learned it sooner, but better late than never.”