As an experienced bedside nurse on a telemetry unit, Lisa Schnoor had no plans to return to college for a bachelor's degree.
"I thought I would be fine with an associate degree of nursing," she said. "We have ADNs, BSNs, MSNs and nurse practitioners all working on my unit. We are all still bedside nurses, so I thought, 'I can still get away with being an ADN.'"
Her husband, Kevin, and UTA's Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program changed her mind. Schnoor, who works at St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino, California, graduated from the online RN to BSN program in August 2017.
"My husband said, 'You need to go back to school. I don't want you to have to do bedside nursing for the rest of your career. You're a great preceptor,'" she said. "I started looking online and looking at prices and said, 'There's no way. I don't want to put a second mortgage on the house just to go back to school.' One of my coworkers told me about UTA. I looked into it and said, 'This is legit.' That got the ball rolling."
Schnoor had one additional hurdle to clear in the online RN to BSN program -- her lack of tech knowhow.
"I'm not computer savvy at all," she said. "I know how to turn a computer on and off. When I see an error code or something that doesn't seem right to me, I trip out. One of my biggest fears was being online. Blackboard, the syllabus and the whole online program were user friendly and easy to navigate."
Schnoor started the program in January 2015. The flexibility of the format allowed Schnoor to pace herself in the program and work on school any time, day or night. She spent between 10 and 15 hours per week on the program.
"A few of my coworkers said, 'It took a minute for you to get your BSN.' I didn't want to overload all of my stress levels, so I took one class at a time. For me, that worked out perfectly with the quizzes, tests and discussion boards. That's why I am recommending this program to many of my coworkers, and they're looking into it," Schnoor said.
Born in South Korea and raised in Southern California by her adoptive parents, Schnoor was surrounded by nurses from an early age. Sometimes the experiences were positive; sometimes, not so much.
"From the time I was four years old, I had multiple surgeries done," she explained. "I remember always being in the hospital and the nurses taking care of me. I tell my patients to this day, 'As opposed to being a nurse looking at you, I remember being the one in the bed looking at the nurse.'
"I remember both the nurses who took care of me and comforted me and the nurses who were not so nice to me. I was a child, but that still made a huge impact on me. That made me who I am today."
Prior to nursing, Schnoor was a medical assistant. She graduated with an ADN from Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California, in 2009. Schnoor has worked on the telemetry unit at St. Bernardine for nearly nine years. So when she enrolled in the UTA online RN to BSN program, she surprised many of her friends and family members. They were excited but wondered why someone her age would pursue the degree.
"I said, 'Hey!' Nurses learn every day -- it's a lifelong commitment," Schnoor said. "They were very proud. I have a pretty set schedule, so I mainly did school on my days off and at night. The online RN to BSN program worked out great for me. I graduated cum laude."
Broadening Horizons -- Stat!
Schnoor learned so much more than she expected in the RN to BSN program, beginning with one of her first courses, NURS 3315: Holistic Health Assessment Across the Lifespan.
"I was in that mindset of, 'Oh, I don't need the BSN, but I'm going to do it,'" she said. "That course showed us that you're not only going to have the title of BSN, but you are going to be a more well-rounded nurse with the degree.
"I was kind of surprised, because I already knew my bedside nursing and thought the BSN was more for other things like reports and literature. I didn't think it was going to help me improve on my bedside, but it did."
Several ensuing courses benefited Schnoor's nursing practice, although some, like NURS 4465: Care of Vulnerable Populations Across the Lifespan, were more relevant to her job than others.
"That course opened up my eyes in regard to my geriatric patients," she said. "The program also made me see the cultural aspects and religious aspects of nursing. I work in San Bernardino, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., which I hadn't realized.
"We have quite a few patients who are impoverished or homeless and come in quite often because of non-compliance. After taking that class, I saw that it's more than just a patient being non-compliant. It made me take notice, which is why I am really appreciative of the class."
To her surprise, Schnoor also enjoyed a general education course requirement, POLS 2312: State & Local Government.
"Having lived in California my entire life, I said, 'I don't need to take a Texas politics class,' but I'm glad I did because it made me appreciate being a nurse in California by seeing the different rules and regulations that nurses from Texas have to deal with," she said. "I'm glad that it's a requirement, and it needs to continue being required in the RN to BSN program. It 100 percent gave me a bigger, broader view of nursing."
Not Done Yet
Schnoor's experience in the online RN to BSN program was so positive that she plans to return to UTA online within a year for a Master of Science in Nursing Education.
"I've always wanted to be an educator," she said. "I love to precept, so maybe I can be an instructor for new grads. Those are the ones that get to me, because I had a bad experience myself as a new grad with a preceptor."
Schnoor, who loves to travel, is also considering the role of unit educator.
"I've got some experience doing that firsthand," she said. "The BSN program helped me with that, too. I'm a much more well-rounded nurse now. That's one huge benefit.
"In the program, you have to be patient, take your time and make sure you actually read the instructions. UTA makes the online program very easy to use. Even if you have experience, hospitals want you to have a BSN."
Learn more about the UTA online RN to BSN program.
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