RN to BSN
"It's an excellent career. You have different specialties to take care of people, and it's all about good customer service. We have the best customer service doing nursing because you're interacting with patients. You want to see them get better, make progress."
Tiffany Trotter knows her ABCs. She went from C.N.A. to L.P.N. to R.N. to B.S.N. and is on her way next to C.R.N.A. The education behind all these letters signifying certifications and degrees has driven her success as a registered nurse living in McGehee in the southeastern corner of Arkansas.
Most recently, Trotter earned the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree — aka a B.S.N. degree — delivered online by the U of A Eleanor Mann School of Nursing.
"I believe in furthering my education to continue to have that knowledge of what's going on because medicine continues to change," Trotter said.
Patty Milner, assistant vice provost for student outreach and innovation at the U of A's Global Campus, presented Trotter with a framed diploma for her bachelor's degree on Aug. 4 during the weeklong Razorbug Diploma Tour through eastern Arkansas. Global Campus staff also presented Trotter a framed photograph of nursing school faculty and staff congratulating her.
U of A faculty and staff also traveled with the Razorbug through western and southern Arkansas in June and July to present framed diplomas to graduates of online degree programs. More than 440 students graduated from online programs in May. The Razorbug is a converted red Volkswagen Beetle that sports a Razorback snout, tail and razor-edged spine. It has been used for recruitment and special events since 2005.
Back to those letters. C.N.A. stands for certified nursing assistant, L.P.N. for licensed practical nurse and R.N. for registered nurse. Next on Trotter's agenda, C.R.N.A. stands for certified registered nurse anesthetist and will require Trotter to obtain her license as an advanced practice registered nurse, an A.P.R.N., and then she can administer anesthesia for surgery and other medical procedures.
Trotter's face lit up when she was asked what it means to her that her daughter, Raina, has decided to also be a nurse.
"It means everything," Trotter exclaimed. "I've been encouraging her to do it. It's an excellent career. You have different specialties to take care of people, and it's all about good customer service. We have the best customer service doing nursing because you're interacting with patients. You want to see them get better, make progress. … I am happy for her."
Earning a degree online was challenging, but the convenience made it possible to combine with her responsibilities to her daughter and her work, Trotter said. She did not attend the U of A commencement in Fayetteville, about a 4½ hour drive, because Raina was graduating from high school the same May weekend. Then, the family celebrated with a trip to Hawaii the next day.
"It's a task," Trotter said about the online degree program. "It's not easy, but it's at your pace. You have a week to do your work to turn in, time to study. The professors, they work with you and everything. It was excellent."
"It's time management," she continued. "It's not like just getting up to go to the classroom and listen. You've still got to study and be able to sit and do it by yourself, but you're still not alone; you have the professors that'll help you out along the way."
She reached out several times to faculty members and typically heard back in less than the 24 hours usually listed as the expected wait time, Trotter said.
"I can text the teacher," she said. "I can email them. I can call them, and they'll answer a question right away."
She cited a health assessment course as probably the most helpful to her as a working nurse because of the greater detail than she learned in previous courses.
"Even though you may have a small amount of time with this patient, you can still get an overall picture of what's going on with their health," she said.