Rebecca Skinner knew that the knowledge she gained in the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington was valuable to her as a floor nurse.
After earning a promotion to professional development specialist at Carolina East Health System seven months ago, she now knows how valuable it is for her as an administrator, too.
"It's all information that completely relates to practice," Skinner said. "Learning more about interpreting research was very helpful with my new job, which I started in April 2019. I like it. It's very different, but it involves a lot of things I learned in school, like leadership skills and motivating people."
Skinner also loves the normal schedule in the new role for enabling her to spend more time with her husband, Aaron, and their children, Jenny (11), twins Ava and Bethany (4), and Zoe (1). She previously worked 12-hour shifts on the intermediate care unit.
"I wanted to earn a bachelor's degree for a while, but I kept putting it off because there was always an excuse," she said. "My manager encouraged me to go for it and said, 'You're always going to be able to come up with a reason not to do it. Just bite the bullet and do it.' I started out with one class at a time, and then I started doing more and more."
Now, Skinner is enrolled in the Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Administration online program at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. She found out about the benefits and flexibility of earning a degree online while at UNCW.
"It wasn't bad," she said. "I had three kids at the time, so I would get home from work, get them to bed and look over my assignments and do schoolwork for an hour or maybe two hours. I spent about seven hours a week on school when it was a heavier course load."
Skinner still lives in her hometown of New Bern, North Carolina. She graduated with an Associate Degree of Nursing from Craven Community College in 2010, but she initially had a much different career path in mind.
"I used to teach horseback riding lessons, and I worked very closely with my vet," she said. "I thought, 'If I can do intravenous injections and intramuscular injections on horses, I can do all of that for people, too.'
"As my daughter got a little older, and I decided I needed a career that didn't involve getting thrown off of horses, I thought, 'Nursing would make sense since I already have a little bit of medical knowledge. I just need to transfer it over to people .'"
Sure enough, Skinner successfully made the transition and worked as an RN for nearly nine years before moving into administration. Earning a BSN degree at UNCW helped pave the way for her career advancement.
"I wouldn't have even been considered for this position if I didn't have my bachelor's degree," she said.
Her proximity to UNCW cemented her decision to enroll in its online RN to BSN program.
"If I did feel the need to go on campus and talk to somebody face to face, there was a brick-and-mortar school not terribly far away from me that I could get to. Being a North Carolina girl, I wanted to go to a North Carolina school."
NSG 398: Health Policy was Skinner's favorite course in the online RN to BSN curriculum.
"It was a course where we were able to talk about issues that you see every day in healthcare and compare notes on what we had all been experiencing," she said. "I absolutely got good value out of the entire program."
Now that Skinner has gained some managerial experience, she is excited to see how far she can go in her career. Her friends and family were happy to see her achieve her goal of earning a bachelor's degree.
"They were all very supportive," she said. "My mother said, 'Are you sure you are going to be able to handle this?' They were very proud of me when I graduated. I want to see where nursing administration takes me. We will see how I can move up the hierarchy here at Carolina East."
Skinner walked in the commencement ceremony at UNCW in December 2017 to celebrate her accomplishment.
"It was fun," she said. "I didn't bring the kids. I brought my husband, my sister and my brother-in-law. We got to enjoy Wilmington a bit while we were there."
In pursuing a master's degree, Skinner continues to set an example for her children.
"My oldest complains about me doing schoolwork and not doing things with her," she said. "I tell her, 'This is why you need to keep at it when you get out of high school and get all of your education done before you start a family. It's much easier that way.'"
Although Skinner still owns a horse and loves horseback riding, she knows that nursing was the right career path. She is also glad that the online RN to BSN program at UNCW was part of her journey.
"I would say go for it," she said. "You can always make an excuse why it's not a good time. You need to dive in and take it one class at a time while you get started and get used to it. Progress is progress, no matter how small."
Learn more about the UNCW online RN to BSN program.
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