Michele Klippert is a decade away from retirement, but that doesn't mean the Delaware resident is anywhere near ready to call it a career. Quite the contrary.
Klippert plans to graduate from UTA's online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2020. She returned to higher education after a 14-year hiatus in order to transfer from the intensive care unit to the post-anesthesia care unit at Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Delaware.
"I was an LPN for 15 years and went back and got my associate's in nursing," Klippert said. "I worked in an ICU for about 23 years between two different hospitals. In order for me to change to a different department, I had to sign a contract saying I would go back for my bachelor's degree."
After doing some online research, Klippert narrowed her choices down to three schools. She was impressed by the UTA reviews she read and pleasantly surprised by the affordable tuition, which helped her decide to become a Maverick.
"I was just in shock," she said. "At the local school where most everybody goes, the classes are $1,000. I was shocked when I saw how much less it is at UTA. I was really impressed. If I were younger, I would probably pursue the master's degree. I've been looking around at jobs in hospice, but I like where I am right now."
Although Klippert was new to online education, it didn't take long for her to settle into a groove in the online RN to BSN program.
"I was very nervous about it because sometimes I have a little motivation problem," she said. "I was afraid about the procrastination thing. Now, I seem to be doing very well. I'm actually surprising myself."
The flexibility of the online format is a big reason for Kilppert's success.
"If I felt like taking two classes together, I could," she said. "It would be a lot easier for me to prepare and make time if I could get my time management together and knew I had these two classes. With recovery, we go day by day with what the schedule is.
"Sometimes they'll ask us to come in early or stay late. If I had a class on campus, I'd have to have a certain day off every week. I didn't like doing that. Some days are busier than others. I don't have to worry about it being on a certain day or having a certain day off. The online format has worked out very well with my schedule."
Another aspect of the program Klippert enjoys is the ability to work on school at any time of the day.
"I can take the classes that I want to take," she said. "With the five-week classes, I was a little nervous about it, but I can go at my own pace. On average, I spend two or three hours a night on school. I work day shift, so I usually come home from work and take a little nap or eat dinner. Then, I'll spend a couple of hours at the computer."
Seeing the Light
Klippert, who grew up in Pennsville, New Jersey, discovered her true calling at an early age.
"I had numerous eye surgeries as a child," she said. "Ever since then, I decided I wanted to be a nurse. I never really wanted to be anything else. The nurses took care of me. Back then, nursing was starched dresses, hats, stockings and white shoes. I always wanted to be a nurse."
Before starting at Bayhealth in 2004, Klippert spent 17 years at Saint Francis Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. She graduated with an Associate of Nursing from Delaware Technical Community College in 2002.
Although Klippert is in the early stages of the UTA online RN to BSN program, the curriculum has already been applicable to her position in the post-anesthesia care unit, which she started in 2016.
"My favorite course so far is the nursing legalities [NURS 3375: Health Policy and Legal Aspects of Professional Nursing] class," she said. "I learned a lot in that class. There's a lot about HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] of 1996 that relates to what I do now."
2020: A Graduation Odyssey
Even though Klippert could have a retirement party just a few short years after her graduation party, she looks forward to celebrating the accomplishment of earning a bachelor's degree. In fact, she and her husband, Jim, are considering traveling to the graduation ceremony at UTA so she can walk the stage.
"We're thinking about it, because I have always wanted to visit Texas," she said. "I just might want to do it. My friends and family are excited. My husband is very supportive. I am lucky that he does a lot of little things around here, although our two girls are both grown."
There's a good chance that Klippert will stay with her current job until she hangs up her scrubs. However, she already sees how valuable a BSN can be to a nursing career.
"The bachelor's degree will definitely open up doors for nurses who are experienced but want to pursue things further up the ladder," Klippert said. "You're going to need your bachelor's degree to help you with job placement. If I were going for a job in hospice right now, somebody with a bachelor's degree would probably get it before I would, even though I have more experience."
Once Klippert completes the online RN to BSN program, that scenario won't apply. Quite the contrary.
Learn more about the UTA online RN to BSN program.
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