Although John Elkins admits he is not the biggest fan of school, he knew a return to higher education was in the cards for him.
“Going back to school became part of the plan when I couldn’t get a job at a hospital without having a bachelor’s degree,” he said.
That led Elkins to the online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Nevada State College (NSC). He graduated in May 2022.
Three months before Elkins completed the program, he landed a position as a registered nurse in mental health at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Earning my bachelor’s degree was one of the main reasons I was able to get into the VA system,” he said. “It worked out well for me.”
The online format was a key component for Elkins, who had a full plate during the 12 months he was in the RN to BSN program.
“It presented challenges at times because I was working two jobs, including a lot of overtime at one of them, when I started the program,” he said. “The flexibility of the online format helped me work school around my busy schedule.”
Elkins also had experience as an online student before enrolling at NSC, which he chose after some recommendations of the quality and accessibility of the education.
“I had some friends who had completed the program tell me about it being all online and doable while working,” he said. “That’s what drew me in. The cost of tuition was also affordable.”
Elkins is originally from Sacramento, California, where he started his healthcare career as a licensed practical nurse. He worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) for eight years before returning to college. His mom, Catalina, was also a nurse.
“I come from a family of nurses and healthcare professionals,” he said. “I have a sister who is handicapped and requires total care, so I was always taking care of somebody growing up. Working in healthcare was a natural step for me.”
After moving to Las Vegas, Elkins graduated with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from Excelsior College in 2019, then enrolled in the bachelor’s degree program at Nevada State College.
“The associate degree program was all online, too,” he said. “The formatting was a little bit different than it was in the bachelor’s degree program, but it helped to have that experience going into it.”
He transitioned to NSC and learned more about the online RN to BSN curriculum based on Dr. Jean Watson’s “Theory of Human Caring.”
“I liked the caring process that NSC uses in the bachelor’s degree program,” he said. “It was incorporated in all classes in one way or the other.
“Especially working in mental health, that is very useful because it touches on centering yourself. Working in mental health can be stressful, although I’m sure working in other areas of nursing can be, as well.”
Elkins had a strong support system with his family and friends as he earned his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees over the last few years. Despite his lack of love for going to school, he is making strides and isn’t finished yet.
“They were excited for me — especially my mom,” he said. “Because of COVID-19, I didn’t get to walk for my associate degree. I decided to attend commencement, and she got to see me walk. It was fun.
“I’m looking toward getting my nurse practitioner degree, as well. I haven’t decided if I am going to go the family nurse practitioner or the mental health route. I will start working on that soon — in the fall or spring of next year.”
Now that Elkins has a bachelor’s degree, he has some advice for potential students considering the online RN to BSN program at NSC. He notes that while working one job while in the program is definitely more manageable, you can complete it while working two — like he did. Also, make sure you have the right equipment:
“Get a computer that’s bigger than 10 inches,” he said. “I started at the Veterans Affairs Hospital toward the end of the program, but it was pretty hectic up until then.”
Elkins, who enjoys working out and cooking when he has free time, is now someone who would recommend Nevada State College online to friends and colleagues looking to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“I did get good value out of the program,” he said. “It helped me take the next step in my career, which was why I went back to school in the first place. It worked out great.”
School isn’t so bad, after all.
Learn more about NSC’s online RN to BSN program.