Amelia Hodson, who had earned an associate's degree in nursing after a year at JMU, found that, after more than six years as a NICU nurse, she was ready for a change. And while she'd "always planned on attending a RN to BSN program," with two kids, building a new home with her husband and a full-time job, it came a bit later than she'd thought.
"Because the program is designed with so many master's courses, I'm ahead of the ball, and loved my experience."Amelia Hodson, RN to BSN graduate, research coordinator for the Couric Cancer Center
Still, says Hodson, enrolling in UVA's RN to BSN program was "not a bad balance. It was very do-able, and it's obvious that the professors really want everyone to have a great experience."
Taking classes once a week, Hodson maintained three 12-hour shifts, and kept on top of homework assignments and readings. And while there "definitely were some late nights and early mornings," Hodson confesses that she "honestly wouldn't go back and do it a different way."
Too, with the BSN, she's earned master's credits for her ultimate plan: returning to school to earn an MSN.
"I'm a bit more advanced than the average baccalaureate-educated nurse because the program is designed with so many master's courses," says Hodson. "I'm ahead of the ball, and loved my experience."
Through Hodson's practicum, she was placed with a nurse coordinator in thorasic oncology at UVA Medical Center. That, in turn, enabled Hodson to get a glimpse of a wider, "more whole picture of nursing, one with oncology patients that was awesome, and unlike anything I'd ever seen before."
That work, in turn, led her to caring for patients involved with clinical research trials. When a job came open for a research coordinator at the Emily Couric Cancer Center, Hodson applied, and found her "dream job, a role [she'd] never have thought existed."
Today, Hodson says her UVA experience gave her a wider vantage on a range of important issues beyond the fundamentals of patient care, like measurements of quality, safety, budgets, management, leadership, "thinking more broadly about the reasons we do what we do as nurses."
"I learned more than I ever expected to," says Hodson, "and went from being the nurse that argued with physicians because I could only see one side of the problems, to having the ability to step back, and review all aspects of care. As a result, I'm often pulled into those meetings and problem-solving groups because of those skills.
"UVA's RN to BSN program gave me the knowledge base and confidence to really find my niche in nursing, and take on a very fulfilling role that I'd never imagined I'd be in. It's changed my nursing practice, my goals, and my expectations. And really, it was the most rewarding thing I could've done for my career."