LPN to BSN
"I can set my schedule on when and how I want to study. Like during my lunch break I can go on, I can study. I can study when the kids are asleep. I don't feel pushed to study as if I was on campus. I'm setting my time on when I want to study. It's just like I'm totally independent.”
Keema Williams of Houston is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in nursing while working as a licensed vocational nurse at the Houston VA Hospital. She works in primary care, checking patients vital signs, giving vaccines, and preparing them to see the doctor. She expects to graduate in the spring of 2024.
“I've been an LPN for 11 years,” she said. “I was a CNA prior to that. I've been in the field for a total of 17 years.”
Williams’ decision to pursue her nursing degree was for her family. She and her husband have three children, ages 13, 4, and 1.
“I have a family that I need to take care of,” she said. “I've always wanted to be a nurse. But providing more money for my family is my top priority.”
Being awarded the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship came right in time. She was at the end of receiving financial aid, so the scholarship was a big help. It helped her to pay tuition and continue with classes.
Although working in health care during the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging, and pushed graduation back a semester because of fewer opportunities for clinical experience at facilities, it did not deter her from pursuing her degree in health care.
“You know, it was just one of those things that came,” she said. “I was going to deal with it, but it didn't change my mind on wanting to be a nurse.”
Williams learned about the online LPN to BSN program from a patient. One day as she was checking one of her veteran’s vitals, he told her about a program that was online and how he thought it would be good for her. Her patient encouraged her to try it out and gave her the website.
“I went on the website, got everything over to the school, and here I am now,” she said.
Williams was able to easily transfer some previous coursework from the University of Texas at Arlington. She just had to show that the classes’ syllabi matched the University of Arkansas syllabi.
Williams said working with her adviser and communicating with her professors is “really easy.” She can sign up for meetings through Microsoft Teams or simply use email. She has even used the university library resources instead of required textbooks for some of her classes.
One of the reasons Williams thought the online program was a good fit is because the program gives her more time. While she believes she would not be able to complete a traditional program because she works full-time, selecting an online program allows her to spend more time with her family and pursue her degree.
“I can set my schedule on when and how I want to study,” Williams said. “Like during my lunch break I can go on, I can study. I can study when the kids are asleep. I don't feel pushed to study as if I was on campus. I'm setting my time on when I want to study. It's just like I'm totally independent.”
For someone who might be considering studying online, Williams would provide the following advice: really good time management and discipline are necessary.
Williams acknowledges that being an online student can be busy at times. While professors are easily accessible, because of the format of the program, you have to take responsibility for yourself to be successful in the program. It takes a lot of discipline, she said.
Williams’ co-worker is also in the degree program. They have small study sessions here and there, but they don't always take the same classes at the same time. According to Williams, they need each other more for support.
When it comes to recommending this program to others, Williams said, “Oh yes, definitely.”
After Williams receives her degree, she plans to continue working at the VA. She hopes to transition from working in primary care to working on the units and then eventually working in mental health or education after pursuing more higher education. "Whether I get the master’s in mental health or if I get the master’s in education, I want to teach,” she said.