Opportunity and convenience are colliding for nursing veteran Joanne Biever.

“I always told myself that I would go back to school after I graduated with my associate’s degree in 1994,” she said. “A couple of years ago, my son, Reece, was getting ready to college in Utah, so that’s when I decided to go back to school.”

Biever is now on track to complete the online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Nevada State College in March 2023.

“I have had multiple roles in my nursing career,” she said. “I’ve been a charge nurse, a director of nursing. Getting a bachelor’s degree was more of a refresher than anything.

“By no means do I know all there is to know about nursing, but I am enjoying Dr. Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring perspective in the program curriculum — everything centers around that. It’s what the program highlights, and you can use it in every class.” Students first learn Watson’s theory in the program’s Theory of Caring Science course.

The flexibility of the online format is key to Biever, a registered nurse in the operating room at Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas. She also has two more children at home: Renn (16) and Ridge (16).

“The online RN to BSN is definitely manageable,” she said. “The flexibility of the program helps a lot. My kids have also been a big help.

“I had a friend who went through the RN to BSN program at Nevada State and had a good experience. I followed on his heels.”

The Options Are Endless

Biever is from Saskatchewan, Canada, where she graduated with an associate’s degree in rehabilitation services before moving to the United States in 1995 to launch her career. She worked with patients with bipolar disorder and autism.

“I always thought that I wanted to be a nurse. It wasn’t the first avenue I went down, but my roommate was in nursing. I saw everything that she was doing and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do.'”

Since enrolling at Nevada State in the fall 2020, Biever has received strong support from the faculty and staff as she works toward completing the degree.

“I had never done any online courses before starting this program,” she said. “The faculty is especially good about helping out. The biggest hurdle was me, since I hadn’t gone to school since 1994. A lot has changed with school, especially since it’s all online.”

So far, Biever’s favorite courses in the online RN to BSN program curriculum are Holistic Health Assessment, Care of Aging Populations, and Nursing in the Global Environment.

“These three courses piqued my interest because I have been in nursing for so long,” she said. “They were a good reminder of different avenues that I might pursue when my kids leave home. The professors for these courses were also great.”

As Biever heads down the home stretch of the bachelor’s degree program, she is keeping her career options open. She knows her degree will give her a number of opportunities to explore in different spaces, such as travel nursing or school nursing.

“I also love kids,” she said, “so maybe I could be a school nurse. I haven’t decided yet.”

Age Is but a Number

Biever plans to celebrate fulfilling her long-term goal in style by participating in commencement on campus at Nevada State.

“I will most definitely be there for graduation,” she said. “I worked hard for this. I want to walk across that stage.

“All of my family and friends have been very supportive of me. Even the doctors and staff who I work with at Southern Hills have helped me out on a couple of projects.”

Whichever area of nursing Biever decides to pursue after graduation, she believes that a bachelor’s degree will make a big difference in her practice.

“Having this degree will open up job opportunities for me,” she said. “No matter how many years of nursing experience you have, a BSN is still a requirement for some jobs. So far, I got good value out of the program at Nevada State.”

Biever, who enjoys reading and traveling in her free time, said that confidence is key to returning to higher education, even for nurses who have been out of college for a long time.

“I have a friend who left to work in the surgery sector, and she is looking at going back to school at Nevada State,” she said. “She’s very similar to me; she hasn’t been back to school in 20-plus years. I told her that for single working people, it’s about time management.

“We are all intelligent individuals because we got to where we need to be in life thus far…I told her that she could totally do it. It’s very attainable.”

Learn more about Nevada State College’s online RN to BSN program.