Q&A with an RN to BSN Grad

Q&A with Mary Basten, HSRC Simulation Coordinator at Bellin College
RN to BSN graduate, class of December 2017

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I had initially wanted to be a high school Spanish teacher. I was really good at learning the Spanish language, and my father was a teacher so I thought it would be a really good fit. I went to UWGB for a year before changing majors. I felt I would have more opportunity to touch more lives as a nurse than I would as a teacher, so I made the switch! I had no idea what a nurse actually did, I had never been sick as a child and had only seen nurses in the clinic setting. I thought it would be easy, and I was proved wrong!

Where did you receive your ADN?

I received my associate’s degree at NWTC in Green Bay.

Where have you worked, and what experiences did you have when you started out in your career?

As a CNA I worked at The Recovery Inn which is a part of Orthopedic and Sports Institute of the Fox Valley. During school, I worked as a Nurse Tech at a nursing home in Kaukauna for a short while. I decided the drive was not for me anymore, so I applied to Bellin Health and was offered the opportunity to work for on the 4th floor of Bellin Hospital. The medical unit was my home during my transition from CNA to RN. I worked on medical for a few years and decided I wanted to try critical care, and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Bellin became my final home. I had the opportunity to work with many sick people and have learned so much from my experiences, it is unexplainable how grateful I am to be a nurse.

What was your job at Bellin and what made you decide to enroll in the RN to BSN Completion program at Bellin College?

I was working as a staff nurse in the ICU at Bellin when I decided to enroll in the RN to BSN program through Bellin College. I decided it was time as I was very motivated to continue school and achieve my goal of becoming a nurse educator. Bellin Health was offering unbelievable assistance through Bellin College so I applied and was accepted into the second cohort. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.

What was your experience in the RN to BSN completion program at Bellin College?

The program worked well with my swing shift schedule. The classes held in person were offered at times which allowed me to continue working full time in the ICU as well as have time for my friends and family. One highlight from the program included traveling to Haiti. I was humbled at the living situation Haitians are faced with as well as enjoying some classes with undergrad students. During my community practicum, I spent the bulk of my time in Haiti where we provided clinic to hundreds of vulnerable people. I slept in a tent on the ground in 100 degrees and cried before I left the country. It’s impossible to explain to anyone the feelings I had while I was there, it was truly remarkable. I also spent some time during my community practicum at other sites including Unity Hospice Residence. I had cared for dying patients during my work as a staff nurse and it was very interesting to see how they could be cared for at the Residence instead of the hospital setting.

How was your experience transitioning from the hospital setting to the college, and what do you like best about working in the HSRC?

My transition from the hospital setting was difficult as I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give it up. It was difficult at first, but I am still currently working PRN in the ICU, and am able to fill my need to care for patients intermittently. The people I work with at the college are some of the greatest people in the world. They all have the student’s goals in mind as they make the gears of the building turn. The thing I like best about my work in the HSRC has to be working with the students. I love seeing the students and their moments of understanding as they learn something new.

What are your future career goals and aspirations?

My ultimate goal is to achieve my master’s degree as a Nurse Educator. 

Any advice for other RNs looking to advance their careers?

My advice is to jump in and do it, no matter what it is. The greatest thing about nursing is that there are so many different areas we can jump into. If you decide you do not like it, there will always be another door to open and another opportunity to try something new.

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