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Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

College of Health Sciences

December 2015 Nursing Graduates:

A great story about the importance of continuing education

Nursing graduates and nursing faculty at Fall 2015 Commencement

Pictured above: foreground (l-r); students Tara Cook, Nicole Williams, Randi Smith;
background (l-r); UW Nursing faculty Mary Anne Purtzer, Cheri Bellamy.

"Continuing my education has helped me in my current position greatly. It allows for opportunities to advance into an associate manager role if I so choose, but has also served me well in my current leadership position as a staff nurse."

- April Barnes from Woodland, Washington

The story:

Who comes to a December instead of May Ceremony?

Most nursing programs have their graduates walk at the Commencement Ceremony in May, but the RN/BSN Completion online program often has students completing their program of study and desiring to participate in the winter Health Sciences ceremony. This December, seven RN/BSN students graduated, five of whom planned to attend the ceremony, and four who actually made it in spite of the snowfall. The students have hometowns ranging from Lancaster, California to Woodland, Washington; from Ft. Colliins, Colorado, to Pinedale, Cheyenne, and Rawlins, Wyoming. Six out of the seven students are already employed and planning to stay in their current positions. The seventh student is preparing to return to school to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

The RN/BSN Completion online program is for students who are already registered nurses with either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma in nursing. Many employers are now requiring nurses to have a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing).

What makes online students want to participate (and drive so far!) for an on-campus ceremony?

The student who was prevented by the weather from participating in the ceremony was April Barnes from Woodland, Washington, currently employed with Kaiser Permanente in the northwest region. April and her supportive family were planning to drive from Washington to Wyoming for the commencement event, and were disappointed they couldn’t do so due to bad weather. Barnes is making plans instead to come in May for the Commencement and Convocation.

"It is important to me to attend the graduation for a couple of reasons," says Barnes. "I am the first in my family to graduate from college and that feels pretty huge to me. It has been a long road, and my husband and I felt it was important to acknowledge that. We also wanted our two children to see their mom finish. I want that moment to stay with them and hopefully inspire them to go to college and finish despite the obstacles of life. This may be a lot to try and instill at the ages of 10 and 4, but my husband and I have always felt education is very important."

The importance of continuing education, in one student's words

Barnes still isn't ready to lay back and relax after her journey to complete her degree. "I am planning to pursue my Masters in Nurse Leadership through UWYO," she adds. "I wanted to attend a school that offered an online program and also offered a solid nursing program. I got both of those with UWYO during my RN/BSN journey. I am excited about the new program UW School of Nursing will be offering in 2017, because it is a Masters in Nurse Leadership with a concentration in Nurse Educator. I feel like this will open many professional opportunities for me and afford me the ability to take my career in new directions."

Even without going for the Masters degree, Barnes says the BSN degree has put her ahead: "Continuing my education has helped me in my current position greatly. It allows for opportunities to advance into an associate manager role if I so choose, but has also served me well in my current leadership position as a staff nurse. Earning my BSN has built on the critical thinking foundation laid by my ADN program. I want to continue to build my knowledge and grow as a professional and be positive change agent in the profession that I love. That is why I have chosen to earn an MSN."


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