April 16, 2007, 2:34 pm

RN to BSN: At A Computer Near You!


Can’t get out of bed?

I can’t seem to stay in bed.

I have the dreaded “sleep in four hour blocks” syndrome.

Today I was the recipient of a phone call from a national political committee which shall remain nameless.

The fourth call this week.

They woke me up.

Folks, don’t ever give money to a national political committee. They will hound you via mail and phone until the proverbial cows come home. Donate to local candidates instead.

I swear if they call me again, I’m going to vote the Spongebob Squarepants/Squidward ticket and be done with them.

What do you mean, Spongebob isn’t running?

Everyone else seems to be.


I’m studying for my BSN because I can.

At home, in my pajamas and sweats. I don’t have to sit in a classroom and I can join in class “discussions” at three in the morning.

I’m studying for my BSN because for the first time in the history of the profession, I can take every class required online with my community health clinical right here in my own county.


If you are working as a registered nurse, trying to attend classes can be difficult. You must be in a certain place at a certain time, with little control over when your required classes are offered. You may have to find childcare. Maybe you work night shift and have erratic sleeping patterns.

Every time I would think about going back for my BSN, it just seemed like too much work. Too much hassle.

Well, guess what? It is a lot of work!

But it is not a hassle any longer.

Online learning is the best thing that has happened to me in terms of my professional development.


It isn’t for everyone.

You need to be motivated. You need to want to learn.

You have to be excited about what you are doing.

You see, online education is not passive. The material is not fed to you through lectures. You are given the reading requirement, some background on the issue by the faculty via the class website and the actual assignment. It is up to you to do the research, participate in the class “discussions” by responding to your classmate’s postings and get those assignments in on time.

You are teaching yourself the material, with an instructor available for feedback if you have questions.

You will get out of the assignments exactly what you put into them.

You will retain more than you ever would sitting in a lecture, because you are responsible for your own learning and you are actively involved in all aspects.

You will find that you learn an enormous amount of information from your own “classmates”, nurses who work in real-world situations just like you do. Nurses who bring with them years of experience, usually in a specialty/facility you are not familiar with.


You need to be organized.

Online classes do not lend themselves to the practice of cramming at the last minute. Part of your grade is based on turning in assignments on time and responding in discussion groups by deadlines.

Assignments are uploaded as attachments to the instructor, who then gives you your grade/feedback online.

On the other hand, there is flexibility. Have a family crisis? Been down with the flu for a week or spent some time in the hospital for emergency surgery? Fire an email off to the instructor and let them know. Unlike a physical classroom, the discussions stay up the entire semester, so you can always catch up in your participation.


So, what do you look for in an online program?

I looked at three before I found my match, you may need to examine a few more.

Let’s look at why I chose the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s BSN/LINC program, and you will get an idea of what to look for in your prospective program:

  • I received the maximum amount of credit for all the various classes in humanities and political science that I have taken over the years. This is extremely important. You want a program that acknowledges your educational accomplishments both in and out of nursing.
  • The site was easy to navigate and understand, with the majority of the information right on the BSN/LINC website. It gave me the confidence to actually apply; that “Hey! I can do this!”
  • The University made personal contact with me after I expressed and interest in information. Immediately I had an advisor’s name and someone I could call personally for additional information. Later, after my initial registration, I received another call to make sure I had all the information I needed. While online learning is predominantly self-directed, you want to have the human interaction when you need information.
  • You are allowed to take a BSN/LINC nursing class before committing to entering the program. Of course, being me, I just jumped right in with both feet. It just felt right.
  • Flexibility. In the UW-GB BSN/LINC program you can “sit out” a semester if you need to, and to get back in you just reapply with no fees involved.
  • The ability to take classes outside the university. An online BSN is pricey, no doubt about that. You want to find a program that allows you to take the non-nursing classes locally, for less money. If I need a “world culture” class to fulfill a requirement, I can take it at a local junior college and have the units transferred. I found I was so enamored of the online learning process, I chose to pay and take the non-nursing classes I needed online, too. I’m telling you, it’s really something else!
  • Money. The price-per-unit of each university varies dramatically, so you have to balance the fees with getting what you want out of the program. Online programs available through state universities may be cheaper if you reside in the state. Needless to say, I’m an out-of-state tuition for Green Bay, but the tuition is worth it.

So, those are the things I looked for in an online BSN program.

What’s important to you?

If you are even remotely thinking about returning for your BSN, consider doing it online. Nurses with a few years of experience behind them will find this style of learning enlightening.

Trust me, I’m a proud ADN graduate of almost 29 years and I’m learning aspects of nursing I never knew existed.

My soon-to-have-PhD colleague said this about a BSN: “It won’t change the way you practice…but it will change the way you think.”

She was right. It has changed the way I think about my profession.

But it has changed the way I practice in subtle but significant ways.

It has energized my enthusiasm for nursing.

Let it do the same for you.



  • Fallen Angels

    April 17, 2007 at 10:35 am

    I am nearing application to RN programs. The program at the school I am already attending is an (prestigious) ADN program. One town away (pretty much a suberb these days) there is a State University with a BSN program, about a 45 minute comute away is a Private University with a BSN program and another 30 minutes past that is another State University with a BSN program and a UC with a Medical program that probably also has a nursing department (not sure on the last). I’m really not sure which route I want to take. I think I want to get a BSN, but at this point I am getting really tired of homework! What are your thoughts on the options? By the way, I am in the North Bay Area…you can probably figure out my location with the school info above.

  • NPs Save Lives

    May 12, 2007 at 6:57 am

    Congrats on going back to get your BSN. As you know, I did mine online through Florida State University as well. It’s challenging but doable. I always encourage the nursing students that I see to continue their educations.
    Here’s the link to FSU’s site. http://www.fsu.edu

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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