Rebecca Trupp already had 25 years of nursing experience when she enrolled in the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program at UTA.
"I hit the top of where I felt like I was going to go," she said. "I reached a really great place in my career. With all of the changes in the nursing field, and the Institute of Medicine wanting all nurses to have a BSN by 2020, there were certain places I felt I couldn't get into unless I had my bachelor's degree."
After graduating from the online RN to BSN program in 2016, Trupp landed a job as a nurse specialist of research at the NIH National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.
"I don't think I'd be at the NIH if I hadn't gotten my bachelor's degree," Trupp said. "Having that BSN made a difference. It's not a Magnet hospital, so you don't have to have a bachelor's degree to work there, but this is a place where people have their Ph.D.'s. A lot of very smart people work there. They want to see their people go on for higher education."
Trupp was a breast cancer nurse navigator at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine while enrolled at UTA.
"It was tough," she said. "I would work all day, come home and spend a few minutes with my husband, Kevin Rolan, and settle in. I'd go down into the office and start working on my classwork.
"My husband cooked dinner pretty much every night. I'd go back up and have dinner with him, then I'd go back down and do more classwork. That's pretty much what I did many nights during the week. I missed out on some weekends, but it was worth it."
On the Path
Trupp had an interest in the medical field long before she ever considered any actual occupation.
"I've been interested in medicine ever since I was a little kid," she said. "I carried my little medical bag around and gave my brother shots and candy pills all the time. As I got older, I volunteered at the National Institutes of Health. I became a dental assistant, and I didn't go to nursing school until I was 26."
Trupp initially intended to become a midwife and instead became a labor and delivery nurse after she graduated with an Associate Degree of Nursing from Montgomery College in 1991. She also worked as an oncology nurse at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda for nine years before enrolling at UTA.
"I did an online search and looked at all of the different programs, requirements and cost," she said. "UTA is a brick-and-mortar school, the University of Texas has a good reputation and the cost is reasonable. I had a friend, Judy Macon, who graduated from nursing school at UTA a long time ago. She was excited when I told her I was enrolling."
As a Maryland resident, Trupp did not share that same excitement when she realized POLS 2312: State & Local Government -- essentially Texas history -- was a required general education course for the online RN to BSN program.
"I was very unhappy that course was a requirement because it's a state school," she said. "But UTA was so good at presenting the material and broadening it for an online audience spread across the country. It changed my whole way of thinking.
"I wanted to just take nursing classes and get my bachelor's degree, but UTA required me to get a well-rounded education. I also had to take a literature class that I loved. I can't think of one course that I didn't like. I thought, 'If I were 20 years old, I probably would have hated this. But I'm 50 years old and this is terrific!' It was a great experience."
RN to BSN to ROI
Trupp, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, has two grown children, Zachary Price (26) and Amy Price (24), who are both college graduates. Amy plans on also attending nursing school.
"Everyone was really proud of me for going back and earning my BSN," she said. "My husband was very supportive. I spent between 8 and 10 hours a week on school, sometimes more when I had papers due or had to do some extra studying."
The biggest key to success in the online RN to BSN program is between the ears, in more ways than one, according to Trupp.
"It all depends on mindset," she said. "You have to have an open mind. You can do it. You'll feel great when you do it. I felt supported through the school. My instructors were responsive. For the older learner, I would say it's going to be better than you think."
Now that Trupp has a bachelor's degree and a job she loves, she realizes how smart of a decision she made by enrolling at UTA online.
"I embraced it and enjoyed it tremendously," she said. "I was kind of sad when it was over. I was one of those ADN-prepared nurses who thought, 'Why do I need a bachelor's degree? I'm only going to make $1,000 more a year. I'm not going to get a return on my investment. What's the point of that?'
"As I started getting into the program, I realized I learned a lot more about nursing and nursing theory that I didn't get an opportunity to learn in my associate degree program. I really believe I am a more well -rounded nurse because of the UTA online RN to BSN program."
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