Posted on: March 31, 2016
Pam Rihner was apprehensive about returning to school. It had been 15 years since she completed her Associate’s degree in Nursing, and the idea of advancing her education online (versus a traditional classroom setting) did not sit well with her. After researching various online and on-campus RN–BSN programs, she eventually chose the online option at Clarkson College—and she can’t express enough how pleased she is with that decision.
Rihner’s familiarity with Clarkson College stems back 25 years when she took her first job as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) on the telemetry floor at Clarkson Hospital. Clarkson College Nursing students frequently completed their clinical rotations on this floor, giving her a glimpse into the structure and learning opportunities the program integrated into its curriculum.
In addition to her work on the telemetry floor, Rihner has nearly two decades-worth of experience working as an RN for Nebraska Medicine. She has cared for patients on the Intermediate Care Unit and persons receiving outpatient dialysis. She currently works as a cardiac rehab nurse for Nebraska Medicine.
A couple of years ago, Rihner began to think seriously about advancing her degree. She believed it was beneficial in the ever-changing profession of health care to have a broad knowledge base to pull from, specifically in the areas of nursing management, health care ethics, statistics, health care research, and cultural diversity. To gain some concrete insight on which RN–BSN programs to consider, she consulted her nursing peers on the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit and the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. “The majority recommended Clarkson College and spoke highly of the education they received,” she said.
Rihner applied to the Clarkson College RN–BSN program and officially enrolled in spring 2014. Though anxious at the beginning, she was put at ease by the strong connection she developed with the faculty she knew only through her computer screen. “I wouldn't have made it through the first month without their support,” she said.
One such faculty member was Joe Councill, who also served as Rihner’s academic advisor throughout her enrollment in the program. “Not having been exposed to online education technologies is normal for many of our students and can be a cause for trepidation when looking at different programs or starting out in an online program,” said Councill. “Clarkson College realizes this and has set up our program so that the first seven credit hours every student takes involve direct interaction with their academic advisor/instructor.” The dual-role strategy allows incoming students to quickly establish a trusting relationship with faculty so they can feel comfortable expressing personal struggles, fears or deficits that may affect success in the program.
“One of the first things I share with students and stress throughout the semester is that online education does not mean alone education,” Councill added. “We are in this together and, as a team, we will move from where you are at today to graduation.”
Now only a few months shy of her own graduation, Rihner is proud she faced the fears that came with completing an online degree. “Clarkson College has taught me how to use nursing-based research to support and guide my professional thoughts, and I know the classes I have taken have enriched my patients’ lives in giving them more holistic care and, hopefully, better outcomes.”
If you are interested in pursuing an online RN–BSN or RN–MSN degree at Clarkson College, contact Joe Councill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402.552.6159.