Because Benjamin Beason works in the same hospital where he was born, he jokes that he didn't make it very far in life. Geography and kidding aside, he has built a solid and fulfilling career in healthcare.
"I worked my way up to patient care manager at Cape Fear Valley Health in Fayetteville, North Carolina," he said. "One of the requirements was having a bachelor's degree within three years, so I looked into some options."
Beason came full circle again by graduating from the online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) in December 2017.
"My goal was to get a degree at UNCW, so it was something I had always been looking forward to doing," he said. "UNCW's nursing program came up. The price and the timing looked good, so I rolled with it."
The flexibility of the online format gave Beason the ability to work full time while earning a bachelor's degree in 18 months.
"I was able to do school almost full time — about 12 credit hours per semester," he said. "Everything worked out for me to get it done in time. They pretty much set up the classes for me.
"I followed the program and, before I knew it, it was all done. It allowed me to keep my manager position, which worked out well."
Beason had some experience taking online courses prior to enrolling at UNCW, but he said they were not as thorough as the ones he took in UNCW's RN to BSN program.
"These were very involved courses with good information," he said. "It was good to go back and get a BSN because there's a lot you don't see when you are getting your associate degree. There's a managerial aspect to the BSN."
Wait and Seahawk
Beason grew up in Raeford, North Carolina, and graduated with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from Robeson Community College in 2012.
"I never planned on becoming a nurse until somebody told me I would be good at it," he said. "It worked out well. When the opportunity came up with UNCW, it was a perfect fit for me."
After earning a promotion to his current role five years ago, Beason was eager to return to higher education and complete the RN to BSN program to learn the ropes.
"The degree has opened up career opportunities for me," he said. "There are also monetary benefits — especially in nursing today. There are different criteria that allow you to get bonuses or special incentives. I wouldn't have my managerial position if I didn't get the bachelor's degree."
Research in Nursing was Beason's favorite course in the online RN to BSN program curriculum.
"That class opened up my eyes a lot," he said. "I was never very interested in research, but when I did that and found some things out, I was a lot more interested in it."
Beason gained valuable insight from each of the courses in the program as he developed his nursing leadership skills.
"It changed my mindset on being a manager," he said. "Going through the BSN program, you learn a lot more about the managerial side and the bigger picture, rather than just taking care of the patient. That's what you will get to see in this program."
Home, Sweet Home
In addition to working where he was born, Beason shares a workplace with his wife, Natasha, who is a nurse at Cape Fear Valley Health Center.
The couple have five children — Brendan (18), Connor (11), Declan (8), Hunter (7) and Dean (6). They all enjoy camping together in their free time.
"They were proud of me for going back to school and earning a degree," Beason said. "I missed the commencement ceremony, but I wish I would have gone because I had always wanted to go to school there. I am glad that it says 'UNCW' on my degree."
Beason is thriving in his role as patient care manager and benefiting from the knowledge he gained in the BSN program as he progresses in his nursing career.
"I absolutely got good value out of the RN to BSN program at UNCW," he said. "You have to prepare for time management as an online student.
"If you are not sure whether or not you should do it, you absolutely should; everyone with an associate degree should. It opens up your mind to different aspects of nursing."Learn more about UNCW's online RN to BSN program.
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