From CNA to MSN: Helping Nurses Continue Their Education

By Christine Bartholomew, Adjunct Faculty, College of Nursing and Health Care Professions

Front of College of Nursing and Health Care building on GCU campus

How did you begin your career in nursing? For me, it was a calling. I began by looking for a job opportunity as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and I quickly discovered that I enjoy taking care of others. I had wanted to be a dance teacher, but shortly after my first year as a CNA, I knew that nursing was my calling.

Advancing My Nursing Education

I received my diploma in nursing and later achieved my BSN. Along the way I worked in the ICU and ER; as a house supervisor and disaster response nurse; and in education. I coordinated the preceptor program and obtained my MSN so that I would be able to instruct future nurses.

Managing time between my family, school and job was the most challenging aspect of going back to school. Many class discussion forums took place on my cell phone at a ballpark while my son was playing club baseball. The most rewarding moment of it all was graduating and seeing how proud my family was of me and my accomplishment – not to mention how accomplished I felt!

Helping Nurses Advance Their Education

Being a nursing professor is a way to express and feed my spiritual side. I remember what it was like to be a student and I always enjoyed precepting new nurses. Teaching has given me an opportunity to be a contributor in building nursing career foundations.

Grand Canyon University’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions is unique because each student is an active participant in their education. All courses detail the expectations and are relevant to the nursing profession. The contacts you will make from networking are endless. As an instructor, I get to have the pleasure of learning something new in each course from students from all over the country and the world.

At GCU, I teach Professional Dynamics, an entry course for nurses that are obtaining their BSN. The discussion forums cover reflections on successful characteristics, nursing trends, standards and scope of practice and the driving force behind nurses advancing their degrees. It’s the first exposure to the learning platform for many students who may be new to the APA format and LoudCloud, so it’s important to be patient while they learn the ins and outs.

I also teach Concepts in Community and Public Health where we discuss the dynamics of a community and how nurses can support positive health promotion and cultural diversity. Another course, Health Assessments, is a chance to review health history, assessment and screening from infant to older adult while perfecting observation skills.

Advice for Nurses Continuing Their Education

If you’re considering going back to school to advance your nursing education, know that all the demanding work will be worth it. Plan for study time and use the resources GCU gives you to succeed. If you’re not experienced at writing formal essays, you can use the Learning Lounge to have your essays reviewed.

There are also many opportunities to involve your organization in your education; as a student, you will be asked to improve processes, evaluate community needs and participate in educational projects.

Buy an APA manual and a reliable computer; when writing a paper, save often. If you have children, you can be an excellent role model by studying with them.

I want my students to fully understand the art of nursing so they can be the best they can be. The ultimate goal is to be the nurse that you would want taking care of your family – and obtaining your BSN is an opportunity for you to be that nurse!

Are you ready to advance your nursing education? Learn more about our online nursing programs by visiting our website or clicking the Request More Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.