James Madison University

One Year Later: RN/BSN Graduate Talks Life Post-BSN

The JMU RN/BSN Program enjoys a strong positive reputation that is reflected in our graduates. These students leave the program prepared to move quickly into positions of responsibility or continue their studies at the master’s level and beyond.

PHOTO: Van Vickle
We caught up with Melissa Van Vickle, a May 2015 graduate, to find out how getting her bachelor’s at JMU has impacted both her current career and her options for the future.

Briefly describe where you live in Virginia and your nursing practice.

Currently, my family and I reside in Mineral, VA. I practice at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital (HDH) in Richmond, as a staff nurse on our Labor & Delivery unit. I celebrated three years as a nurse at HDH in February.

Why did you choose the JMU RN/BSN Program? Were you full or part-time?

I chose the RN-to-BSN program at JMU because of the ease of transition from my Associate’s Degree. In addition, JMU’s nursing programs are well recognized throughout the nursing community, as are nurses who graduate from JMU.  
I enrolled as a part-time student. As a full-time working mom, the part-time option appealed to me most, because I was able to fit it better into my insanely busy schedule. It offered me the flexibility I needed to be able to still work and manage time with my family as well. 

What was your biggest struggle as a part-time student?

My biggest struggle was time management. I did have to make some sacrifices while completing the program. Sleep and my social life were the areas that I had to compromise on most often. 

How has the program changed your thinking and/or your nursing practice?

The program has helped me be a more well-rounded nurse. I don’t just do anymore. I ask the question “why”, because knowing why you do something makes more sense than just doing it. And it’s easier to integrate the “why” into your practice if there’s a reason behind it. I also believe that the JMU RN-to-BSN program has really fostered in me the lifelong learning aspect of nursing. It is important to continue to learn, whether it is learning about new equipment, or a disease process that you are unfamiliar with or what evidence tells us is best practice. I want to be the best nurse I can be, so seeking educational opportunities and other professional development resources is essential.  

What prepared you to achieve your clinical ladder advancement?

During my time in the RN-to-BSN program, there was much focus placed on professional development.  There are plenty of opportunities for us, as nurses, to improve our practice. One such opportunity within the hospital setting is the clinical ladder.  This was the first year that I was eligible to challenge the clinical ladder and I successfully completed the requirements for Clinician III. 

I also think my ambitious nature, combined with an internal drive and motivation, were helpful in achieving clinical ladder advancement.

What are you going to do next?

I have declared my intentions for clinical ladder again this year and hope to meet the requirements for Clinician V, the highest level. I also hope to become certified in my specialty area of Inpatient Obstetrics. This will be enough of a challenge for me for this year!

Anything else you would like to share about your personal professional journey post-BSN?

Since becoming a nurse and completing my BSN at JMU, I have realized how important it is to be a lifelong learner. Nursing is such a dynamic profession and as practitioners, we have to keep up with evidence-based practice. I do plan to continue my education, but am not yet sure which direction I would like to take my practice. For now, I plan to continue being a bedside Labor & Delivery nurse, as it is an incredible honor to be a part of my patient’s birthing experience.