Ashley Currin was already planning on returning to college when she was bitten by the teaching bug.
"I got the opportunity to precept a few new graduates on my unit, and I realized that I really enjoy teaching," she said. "I inquired about it at the community college where I graduated. They told me that I had to have a bachelor's degree to be a part-time clinical instructor."
So, Currin expedited her plans and enrolled in the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Two months after completing the program in March 2018, she was hired as a teacher at Vance-Granville Community College. She also maintains her full-time job on the labor and delivery unit at Granville Health System in Oxford, North Carolina.
"I teach general nursing skills," Currin said. "We have a simulation lab that I am in more than the classroom. I also bring the students to our labor and delivery unit. At my job, they are very supportive of my teaching and work with my schedule because I am also recruiting new graduate hires for the hospital."
Currin graduated with an Associate Degree of Nursing from Vance-Granville Community College in 2015. She knew back then that earning a bachelor's degree was in her future.
"Some of the larger facilities are becoming Magnet hospitals," she said. "I wanted to make sure that if I ever wanted to leave where I currently work, I would be more successful with getting a job. Teaching was even more reason for me to go back to school."
Answering the Call
Currin grew up in Norlina, North Carolina, and was accepted into NC State University with plans to pursue the veterinary program. However, she had a change of heart and became the first nurse in her family.
"I was torn between becoming a veterinarian and a nurse," she said. "Something pulled me toward nursing. I knew I would always have a job, and I am really interested in helping people.
"I love labor and delivery. I considered being a midwife, but I fell in love with the art of nursing. We do so much more with the patients."
The fully online format drew Currin to UNCW once she decided to go back to college.
"I live almost four hours from Wilmington," she said. "Knowing I wouldn't have to drive back and forth and it was all online was important. When I first talked to an admissions officer, she was so friendly. It made me more interested in the program."
Currin's very first course, NSG 316: Professional Nursing Practice for the Baccalaureate Nurse, led her to conclude that the online RN to BSN program would be an asset to her career. It was her favorite in the curriculum.
"That course prepped you for what to expect for the rest of the program," she said. "I was definitely able to apply what I learned to my job. The program was totally manageable. I loved the seven-week semesters. Even when I had to take chemistry, it was only for seven weeks."
Currin also appreciated the support system from the UNCW faculty and staff throughout her time in the bachelor's degree program.
"My advisers were amazing," she said. "They were constantly checking in on me. They asked about my work schedule and what was going on in my life and arranged my classes for me so that I could be more successful in the program."
Not Finished Yet
Earning a degree and landing a teaching job weren't the only life changes for Currin in 2018. She and her husband, Will, were married that October.
"I was planning my wedding for half of the time I was in the RN to BSN program," she said.
After such a positive undergraduate experience at UNCW, Currin plans to enroll in an MSN degree program in 2020.
"The bachelor's degree helped me at the hospital and as a clinical instructor. The online program being so user-friendly made me want to go back for my master's degree," she said. "I want to get a master's so that one day, if I have a family, I can prepare myself for a Monday-through-Friday job.
"I still want to be in the nursing field and stick with my hospital, as well. You can do so many other things, like leadership, with education."
For the immediate future, Currin is content with being a nurse, a teacher and a student while enjoying hunting, fishing and the outdoors with her husband. But she plans to accomplish plenty more in her career down the road.
"We are a small community hospital, but they really support the growth of their nurses," she said. "They supported me being a clinical instructor. If I am successful with this master's degree, I could definitely move up the chain in the hospital."
Although Currin knows she eventually would have returned to higher education, she's glad that teaching bug came along and led her to UNCW.
"If you have time to put forth and spend on your degree, you can do it," she said. "The RN to BSN online program is user friendly. The staff is really helpful. If you have the determination and the motivation to do it, you will succeed."
Learn more about the UNCW online RN to BSN program.
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