Why Did You Decide to Get into Nursing?

My mother and my aunt are both nurses – I grew up wanting to be just like them.  My mother is an LPN and my aunt is an RN; growing up, I didn’t know the difference between their titles, I just knew that they helped take care of sick people and I wanted to do the same.  I saw these strong women basically giving themselves to the care of others and I knew that someday, I was going to do the same.

How did you start your nursing career? CNA, LPN, RN?

I began my nursing career as an LPN.  I then obtained my ADN degree, followed by my BSN degree.

How Did You Decide to Become an LPN?

I actually applied to my local BSN program and was placed on the dreaded waitlist.  I began to weigh my options –wait another semester, bringing my GPA up or take prerequisites for the LPN program?  I decided to take the latter route.  I worked as a cocktail waitress through LPN school then graduated and landed my first job about a week after graduation, working night shift on a telemetry unit.

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What Did You Do as an LPN / LVN?

I worked on a cardiac unit.  When I began my job, the unit was a split unit – cardiac (telemetry) and stepdown, so I was able to build critical care experience as well.  As an LPN, I worked on a team with an RN and took patient vital signs, administered medications, and assisted with ADLs.  I also was required to have training in heart rhythm identification.  I was also given the opportunity to become ACLS-certified.

How Long Were You an LPN / LVN?

I was an LPN for almost five years.  I went back to school for my ADN degree about a year after I became an LPN; I went through Excelsior College and went part-time so it took me almost four years to complete.  Attending school online allowed me the opportunity to work night shift and attend school at the same time.

What Made You Decide to Earn Your RN?

The initial reason I went back to school was to earn more money.  I was satisfied with my job as an LPN.  However, as the years went by I realized that I wanted more from my career than working as a floor nurse and obtaining my RN degree would help me achieve that goal.

What Did You Consider in Your Decision to Move Forward With Your RN?

Cost.  I had to evaluate my whether I could actually afford to go back to school.  I knew that I could take out loans and that my facility had a tuition reimbursement program, but I had to make sure that I could afford a computer and my textbooks before applying.

Where Did You Earn Your RN?

My community has an excellent BSN program but it does not have great options for the non-traditional student.  Working night shift didn’t make it easy to spend all day in the classroom setting so I began searching for alternatives to the traditional education.  Other LPNs working in my facility were attending Excelsior College so I chose to do the same.  I first enrolled in their LPN to ADN program.

After I obtained my ADN degree, I continued working on the telemetry unit.  I began to get burned out on floor nursing but didn’t know what else to do as an RN with an AND degree, especially as I live in a relatively small community.  I decided to continue for my BSN degree, because I knew that this would allow me go further with my nursing career.  Once again, I enrolled in Excelsior’s nursing program, this time in the ADN to BSN program.

What Are Your Career Goals?

I am currently working in diabetes education – I work in a hospital-based outpatient clinic.  I work with people from all age groups, from pediatrics to geriatrics.  I am pursuing my certified diabetes educator (CDE) certification and will be taking my exam this summer.

Aside from obtaining my CDE, my career goals also focus on writing.  I enjoy writing about nursing and would love to make writing a larger part of my career.

What Advice Would You Give Other LPN / LVNs Wanting to Become an RN?

Find a nursing school that best suits your needs.  Not everyone is suited to online school and does best with a classroom setting – however, this may need that you need to modify your work schedule to allow for schooling.  On the flip side, for the student who is tech savvy, an online school may allow you to attend school at your own pace – full-time or half-time, and schooling can be done based on your own schedule.

I would also advise that you check out your facilities tuition reimbursement programs; the hospital that I worked for had a tuition reimbursement program that paid a portion of my tuition.  Just be aware that you may have to commit to working for the facility for a certain amount of time after graduation.

What Tips Do You Have for LPNs When Earning Their RN?

Seek balance – work and school can be hard, especially if you’ve also got family and friends and other commitments.  Try to get adequate sleep, eat well and get exercise.  I found it helpful to take breaks from studying to get a drink with a friend, take a walk, go to a movie with my husband.  Seeking some degree of normalcy was important for me.