By Mascha Elskamp
Student, R.N. to BS. Nursing Program at American Public University
Nursing is a second career for me. I was almost 40 when I graduated from Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). My first nursing job was shortly after graduation at the New York City Department of Health in the Tuberculosis Control program. The position was a public health nurse and case manager. My supervisor and I spoke a lot about education and she always encouraged me to continue on in school; she has been a nurse for many years and is currently finishing up her PhD in Epidemiology.
I realized in order to move forward in my career I really needed to complete the BSN, so I started researching different programs. Through my school research I came across American Public University (APU) and noticed the RN to BSN program. Enrollment was easy and all the staff I encountered online were very helpful. I started my first class in February 2011 and now, two years later, I am almost finished!
Lessons Learned in the Classroom
My experience at APU has been great. I can honestly say that I am enjoying pursuing my BSN so much more than when I was studying for my ADN. Some items to note about online nursing classes are:
- The courses are very organized
- The topics discussed in class are very informative and are kept current
- A lot of time is spent on the future of nursing and how the role is evolving
I also appreciate that you can use your own experience as a background for your research papers and forum postings within the online classroom. This helps the student learn more about his or her own practice as well as learn from other students.
Each class has inspired me to look beyond my current practice and to explore different opportunities. The courses have taught me to think outside the box and to approach nursing problems differently. Some of the most important skills I have learned during my courses are the use of evidence-based practice, the importance of leadership, and how any nurse can be a leader without being a manager. A nurse leadership course helped me to grow in my current organization and the principles discussed in the class encouraged me to meet with management and share my views and suggestions.
Nursing classes at APU have helped me to become more inquisitive and have inspired me to continue my education beyond the BSN. My new goal in education is to obtain a master’s and then a doctorate in nursing.
How Education Has Facilitated My Passion for Nursing
My primary interest has always been public and community health and research. I am still working in the TB control program at the New York City Department of Health and I believe that my courses at APU have helped me to move up in my career. Since August 2012 I have been working in the epidemiology office as the health care worker exposure coordinator. In my current role I investigate any tuberculosis outbreaks in health care settings and follow up on staff test results. I also track down health care workers who are diagnosed with TB and I maintain a database used for research projects.
Online courses can be daunting, but if you are disciplined and are good with time management they are a much better option to combine with a busy family and career. The best advice I can give you is to take the plunge and go for it, you won’t regret it.
About the Author:
Mascha Elskamp has been an RN since 2008 when she graduated with an AAS in nursing. She returned to school in February 2011 to obtain her BSN at APU. Mascha is finishing her final courses and should graduate in May 2013. Her education at APU has inspired her to continue her studies and to explore different areas of nursing. She is very interested in nursing research and she has just been offered a great opportunity as a TB research nurse at Columbia University.