Life is moving fast for Maggie Schroeder. That's just the way that she likes it.
Schroeder will graduate from Purdue Northwest University's online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Fall 2018. She got an early start on the degree through Purdue Northwest's online Professional Nursing Pathways program while attending Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.
"I want to get my master's degree to teach nursing students in clinicals, so I had to get a bachelor's degree," she said. "The BSN also opens up opportunities because not all hospitals hire ADN RNs. There are a lot of big hospitals trying to get Magnet status that will only hire nurses with bachelor's degrees."
Schroeder, an RN in surgical orthopedics at AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, is getting married in August 2019. She and her fiance, Joey, are considering relocating to Arizona.
"I'm going to look into the Purdue Northwest master's degree," she said. "I want something completely online again because I love how convenient it is. I want something that won't tie me down since we could be moving out of state."
In 2016, Schroeder graduated from Harper College with an Associate in Applied Sciences degree in nursing. She learned about the Purdue Northwest online Professional Nursing Pathways program at an Illinois Student Nurses Association convention.
"What sold me is that Purdue Northwest has the five-week online classes -- five weeks on, one week off," Schroeder said. "It seemed very doable to me, not having long class time periods. Cost was also a big deal, but the fact that the program was completely online and that I didn't have to go anywhere for clinicals or orientation was important. It was on my time.
"Plus, having multiple start dates was really comforting to me, not knowing when I was going to start working or if I needed to take a break from a certain class when I moved. I could jump back in whenever I needed to."
Charting a Course
High school classes like anatomy planted the seeds of a nursing career for Schroeder.
"The science aspect of nursing piqued my interest, so I did a lot of research on it," she said. "I did tours of Harper College and its nursing program. My family encouraged me to do it. Once I looked into it, I said, 'Yep. This is what I want to do.'"
Schroeder started at Alexian Brothers Medical Center as a patient care technician. She became a nurse after graduating from Harper College, one of several schools in the Purdue Northwest online Professional Nursing Pathways program.
"I've stayed on my unit as long as I've been there," she said. "I definitely want to go in different directions with nursing. If you are looking for a better job or a specific unit, you're more likely to get it if you have a bachelor's degree."
While at Harper College, Schroeder was on the board of the Illinois Student Nurses Association and was also involved in the school's student nurses association.
"Those organizations helped me a lot with school," she said. "I know how to plan, socialize and network. I'm more comfortable with my profession and know things like the legislative part of it better. I've learned so much from them."
Schroeder and a friend from Harper College, Olivia Ficarrotta, started the RN to BSN online at Purdue Northwest at the same time.
"I took a break over the summer, so we ended up in the same classes together," Schroeder said. "She's still in the program with me. I would definitely recommend having a partner or a classmate doing it with you, more so than someone you just know online. I've met people through the classes and we talk, but being able to go through it with someone was helpful."
Once Schroeder picked up the online RN to BSN program at Purdue Northwest, the flexibility made the transition seamless.
"It's been so nice having the program online," she said. "I notice a lot of people in my classes work night shift because I see when they post in the middle of the night. It makes it so much easier that I don't have to check in at a certain time."
Schroeder works 12-hour shifts and has four days off each week, so she spends a couple of hours each day on schoolwork. Even with a fully online format, the communication with the faculty is spot on.
"The teachers at Purdue Northwest have been great," she said. "We email and use Blackboard, and I have never had a problem. I recommend the pathways program to everyone. I say, 'If you're a nurse and you only have your associate degree, get in the bachelor's program at Purdue Northwest because it's so flexible.'"
NUR 48200: Nursing Leadership and Management is Schroeder's favorite course, so far. She has three courses remaining before graduation.
"I liked the fact that the course was early on in the program, because I really saw a lot of that going into my work, my professionalism and my demeanor at work," she said. "I could see a lot of it through my manager. I thought, 'I see how my charge nurse does it. Maybe I could use this in my own practice.' It was cool to be learning about that and using it in practice, as well."
Point of Pride
Since the online Professional Nursing Pathways program expedited Schroeder's stay in the RN to BSN program, she will have plenty of time to prepare for her wedding.
"My fiance was very supportive," she said. "It was easier online, because I didn't have to leave to go anywhere. I could do my classwork while he was at work, so it really didn't affect our lives. My mom said, 'Go for it. Get your bachelor's degree right away.' She didn't want me wasting any time."
Not wasting time was a valuable life lesson that Schroeder, who enjoys hiking, camping, rock climbing, cooking and gardening, plans on continuing to practice. It has already served her well.
"A lot of my Harper classmates waited a while -- six months to a year -- to go back," she said. "I don't know if even half of them have gone back. Now, I say, 'I started right away and I'm done.' It's hard to go back after a break."
Once Schroeder enrolled in the pathways program, she knew she could expect more from Purdue Northwest than just a piece of paper.
"I learned a lot from it," she said. "I've learned more than I was expecting to. You think, 'Oh, I just need to finish. I need to get my bachelor's.' Going in and learning from every class, I thought, 'I guess I did pay attention to the different aspects of nursing.' It definitely made me a more well-rounded nurse."
Learn more about the Purdue Northwest online RN to BSN program.
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