As a veteran nurse of nearly 20 years, Loretta Hise was skeptical about how much she could learn in the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program at the University of Texas at Arlington.
"I had a lot of experience," she said. "I thought, 'What can they teach me?' The answer is, 'a lot.' The instruction and material were very good, which makes the program worthwhile. I enjoyed a lot of my classes. With a lot of the videos, I thought, 'I wish I could take this and show it to all of the nurses I work with and say, this is how you do this.'"
Hise graduated from the online program in 2012. She is a floor nurse at Glen Rose Medical Center, about 70 miles southwest of Arlington, although she enrolled in the online RN to BSN program with a management position in mind.
"I got a little taste of management," she said. "I felt that I was good at it and enjoyed it immensely. I knew that if I wanted to continue in that direction, I would need more education. Things change. I became a grandmother and the work/life balance thing kicked in."
Hise's daughter, Erikka, had open-heart surgery 10 days after her partner passed away in 2017. In addition, Erikka's recovery was slower than doctors anticipated, so Hise is helping take care of her granddaughter, Harrison (6). Now, Erikka is doing much better.
"I'm back working on the floor," Hise said. "I'm perfectly happy there. Not that we hire a lot of new nurses, but when we hire new nurses, it's nice to feel like I have the education and the experience to mentor them in their careers."
Change of Course
Hise grew up in Henrietta, Texas, and worked several different bookkeeping and clerical jobs, including one at a nuclear power plant. Her frustration with its layoff-prone environment prompted a change, and she turned to nursing.
"I had to sit down and say, 'Okay, what do you do?' I said, 'I take care of people.' At work, when somebody popped a button or scraped a knee, they came to me," Hise said.
Hise enrolled in an Associate Degree of Nursing program at Tarleton State University. She graduated the same day her daughter graduated from another college with a bachelor's degree in government.
"I was a much older student when I started the RN to BSN program, so I did not grow up with computers," Hise said. "That was pretty intimidating. All in all, I'm proud of myself because I was able to do it. It got easier as it went along. My husband, William, who is a lot more comfortable with computers than I am, was my tech support at home."
The credibility of the nursing program at UTA was a big reason Hise became a Maverick.
"My Chief Nursing Officer at the time brought the program to my attention," she said. "I liked that it was a real university. One of the things I like about my degree -- and I'm a little bit snobbish about this -- is it's a real degree. I've seen people do RN to BSNs in six months, and in the back of my mind I say, 'How much did they really learn?' UTA has a great reputation for nursing."
Although Hise enjoyed most of the nursing courses, she found NURS 4465: Care of Vulnerable Populations Across the Lifespan the most impactful.
"We have a senior citizen center in the community, and I went and talked to those folks," she said. "I talked to emergency management people. I did some interviews with some of the seniors in the community, a life review sort of thing. I really enjoyed that and having the window open to how much diversity there is in nursing and different avenues of employment."
Hise believes that even if she had gone the management route, a nursing degree from UTA would have opened up plenty of career opportunities.
"I'm kind of old-school," she said. "I'm obsessed with doing things right and getting good grades. I also think when you are out in the job market, a lot of places are going to look at, 'Do you have your RN? Do you have your BSN?' I think you have to look behind that a little bit and see where you got it and how well-rounded is your education.
"One of the things that I liked about the UTA program is that it wasn't just nursing, nursing, nursing. I took literature and art and other things to get that degree. It was a well-rounded education. You have to also look at those things and not just say, 'Oh, they got a BSN.' You have to say, 'Where did you get it and how robust was the education?'"
Although life circumstances changed Hise's career trajectory, she wouldn't change a thing about enrolling in and graduating from the online RN to BSN program.
"It's not going to be easy, but most things worthwhile aren't," she said. "It's going to be a degree that you can be very proud of."
Though Hise's focus shifted to family once she earned her BSN, she knows it provided the necessary preparation for the master's degree she hopes to earn someday.
"The RN to BSN program at UTA definitely lays the foundation for whatever you have in front of you -- however far you want to go," Hise said. "The quality of the education at UTA was amazing."
Learn more about the UTA online RN to BSN program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.