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The Path Forward

The American Women's College
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Lorri Wheeler ’17

RN to BSN program

Working towards my BSN has given me a strong sense of accomplishment. 

From a young age, I wanted to be a hairdresser, until my junior year of high school when my anatomy and physiology teacher saw in me my interest in science and passion for helping others. He suggested I consider nursing. Right after I graduated, I went to a three-year diploma program at Baystate Medical Center.

For 34 years, I’ve worked at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, MA. The first 17 years of my career at Mercy were in the emergency room, where I loved the fast pace and different everyday atmosphere. From there I went to work in the postanesthesia care unit, or PACU. My favorite aspect of my profession is working with and taking care of people, so I still do some work as a per diem nurse, though my position is now managing a new program called Care Connect.

Care Connect involves case management, bed management, and coordinating everything about a patient’s visit to the hospital to move them through the system smoothly but safely. My colleague and I were involved in the process of creating and developing the Order Organizer role, so we were able to really shape our own positions. It has also given me the opportunity to deepen my critical thinking skills. And my nursing knowledge helps me to prioritize what needs to get done first.

My career in nursing has been very involved since the start. I had planned on looking for a BSN program over the years, but life has been so busy, it didn’t become a priority for me. It’s exciting to be in the first class of Bay Path’s American Women’s College’s RN to BSN program. Many of my classmates also work at Mercy and a significant number are from our neighboring hospital, Baystate. We’ve become a close-knit group, and I’ve had the opportunity to get to know nurses I’ve worked with that I didn’t know before on a personal level. We are now a group of comrades that cheer each other on. There are times I say, “I don’t think I can do this!” and they encourage me, and the next time when they’re struggling, I encourage them.

The online format is ideal for people like me with a family and full-time work schedule. I was nervous to get started because online classes were unfamiliar to me, but it’s been great since getting used to it. Now, I can’t even imagine going and sitting in a classroom.

Working towards my BSN has given me a strong sense of accomplishment. It feels good to be doing something for myself, and I feel more confident as a nurse just even starting in the program. I’m content with where I am in my career right now, but who knows? I may look into more management-related positions after graduating. No matter what the future holds, an education is a valuable thing to have.

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