By Glenn Fredenburg, August 2015
I know you’re thinking, “WHY DO I need the BSN? What can I possibly learn with more college courses?” Honestly, I thought the same thing. I went back to college online because my wife was moving to a management-confidential position and we decided my BSN and future NP licensure would be “Plan B” for our future.
Expanding on What You Know (Or Think You Know)
And then I started classes. Wow. I have a good job in a good place and feel comfortable with my current nursing skill set. Having worked in the emergency room previously, I felt comfortable with time management skills. I had no idea how little I actually knew about my career.
Time Management, Leadership and Teamwork… oh my!
I have learned time budgeting; using the rubrics to plan ahead for eight weeks to get projects done on time. I have learned leadership skills which help me interact more efficiently with my peers, my managers and my patients to create a plan of care or department vision based on existing problems and lead others to my goal rather than try to push my visions and lose friends. I have worked online and through the internet as part of collaborative teams, and have had to work without visual clues to effectively communicate and work with others.
Treating the Whole Person
In my nursing classes I have gained an awareness of body systems and functions and how they act and interact, and realize again that humans are a wonderfully complex group of systems; the body is like a ballet, each part performing its dance in time with the others. One organ fails to act as planned, one miscue and the organism ceases to be. I’m not a deeply religious man, but the intricate complexity of the body leads to more questions than answers, and I like to know not that organs fail, but how. What does the failure of a kidney, for example, harm the body as a whole? What do disease processes actually DO to the body and how can we repair the system when a part fails?
We learn the actions and effects of medications so we can better educate ourselves and then our patients. We learn to communicate the medicines, diseases, interventions and to translate Medical into English for our patients. We learn to treat our patients AND their families, because that support system (or dysfunctional system) goes home with them, hopefully also having taken in our teachings. We learn in our classes to treat ourselves as well, because sick nurses make lousy caregivers.
Continuing to Learn
We also learn, or I did, that everything I had learned in my Associates courses was not the end of knowledge; it was the beginning of my journey. By continuing your education you can begin to think of yourself less as a cog in the machine and more as a professional, an educator, a caregiver, a holder-of-hands and healer-of-hearts. I found you can begin to focus less on performing the day-to-day tasks of nursing and more about finally realizing there might be a better way to perform a task; setting up a new method; showing others how much easier a task can be when re-designed and leading the team to roll out the re-design to the whole hospital.
Not “Just a Nurse”
College has taught me I am not “just a nurse.” I an A NURSE. Our patients look up to us, so we look out for them. We are the daily face of health care and our opinions matter, so we continue our education to gain the knowledge and power to lead the rest of health care towards OUR vision through collaborative effort, modeling and reinforcing the knowledge that yes, NURSES MATTER.
That’s why you’re going back to school. That’s your take-away. You count. You lead. You care.
About the Author
Glenn Fredenburg has been a Registered Nurse for over 13 years, coming to the profession after a career in sales. His experience in nursing has been primarily in the critical care setting, with over ten years in the emergency room and intensive care areas. His mother is a retired nurse and urged him early in life to "become a nurse" because it's rewarding helping others heal and using your complete "toolbox" of skills to aid in the recovery of body and mind. In hindsight, his mother was right. Don't tell her.