Joseph Julian, RN, BSN, of Chittenango, New York, has worked as a registered nurse and hospital supervisor for more than two decades. Julian, 44, decided to enroll in the online RN to BSN program at Pennsylvania State University to fill a professional and personal void. He shared his compelling story and non-traditional learning experience with About.com.
About.com: What was your college experience before returning to school for the RN to BSN program?
Joe Julian: Directly out of high school, I attended a nursing program at a local community college. In 1986, I graduated with honors and received my associate's degree in nursing. Just prior to graduation, I was hired to work as a graduate nurse in a special care unit at a small rural community hospital.
A few months later, I took and passed the New York State Registered Professional Nurse state board exam. About a year later, I started taking classes at a local state college toward my Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. After amassing about 34 credits, I lost my enthusiasm to finish this degree. At the time, I didn't feel I was learning much of anything that would benefit my job. I was still in my young 20s, enjoying a good income with plans to get married, build a home and start a family.
I must admit I have always been one to play just as hard as I work, if not harder. Perhaps maturity factored into this decision as well. Thus my last bachelor's [degree] class at this college was taken in 1992. I had never quit anything, and this decision bothered me over the years.
About.com: What made you decide to enroll in an RN to BSN program, and why Penn State?
Joe Julian: I continued to work as a critical care nurse for nearly 18 years. For the last seven or so years of that time I was the charge nurse of a coronary care unit. While in that position I was approached to become a hospital supervisor. For this position, a BSN was preferred but not mandatory. I believe they liked the critical thinking skills that go along with being a critical care nurse.
About a year into the supervisor position we combined with another health care facility. Shortly thereafter, our new Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) sought to have all of our nursing leaders at least bachelor's prepared. I initially had mixed feelings about the idea, remembering what I had set aside nearly 15 years earlier, and why, versus the conflict with my unfinished business. After nearly a year of contemplating, I decided to pursue and finish what I had started 20 years prior.
My situation had changed though; I now had children and lived an hour away from any nursing school. An online school seemed like the only option for me considering my childcare obligations and work schedule. I have always held Penn State University in the highest regard. I feel it is a state school with an Ivy League reputation. It has always been my dream for my sons to attend college there. I did not realize they had an online nursing school and literally stumbled on it by accident.
Penn State's program is accredited by the NLNAC and CCNE, something to consider if you ever plan on attending graduate school. After speaking with the online nursing advisor, Barbra Haberer, I knew Penn State was for me. She was absolutely wonderful. The other schools I called used high pressure sales tactics and kept calling after I stated I wasn't interested in their school. Nearly all of my credits transferred from the coursework taken previously toward my BSN, some from classes 20 years ago. Penn State gave me the best deal on my transfer credits in comparison to the other schools I had considered.