Online RN-BSN Alumni – Tom Collins

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:00 – So my name is Thomas Collins, I’m a registered nurse. I recently finished the RN-BSN program here at Duquesne University – I did the online version, so I didn’t have to come on campus at all. I actually live in San Diego, California, so all my classwork was done online at San Diego.

:20 – I’ve been at the UCSD Medical Center which is the University of California San Diego Medical Center for 15 years. I started there as a new grad and recently decided to go on and get the BSN done, more for personal reasons than for academic reasons, I’m now a senior nurse there. I’m what we call a Clinical Nurse III – so my specialty is cardiac electrophysiology nursing. I work specifically with cardiac patients, patients who need pacemakers.

:50 – As a teaching hospital, we actually do procedures that other hospitals are reluctant to do. If the patient has ventricular tachycardia , which if left undone – so to speak, if it continues, that person is probably going to die. Other hospitals won’t touch that, because they don’t want the risk of a patient dying on the table but we perform those 2,3 times a month.

1:15 – I actually didn’t get into nursing until later in my career, I worked in law enforcement quite a bit, and actually have degrees in forensic science and worked in that field but i kept looking at the medical side of things. Like in a homicide, how did that person die, how medically did that person die. That was always of big interest to me. Nursing has always been in the background and I eventually just decided I needed to go ahead and settle down and go back to school and get my nursing degree.So this is a continuation, the RN-BSN program is a continuation of that as now that I’ve had experience as a nurse I wanted to go and get the BSN done. Duquesne has been very helpful with that. So my background in forensic science was a big factor in this and I’ve done a lot of work with victims of abuse and I wanted a program that would help me continue with that, instead of just a cookie-cutter approach.

2:09 – The schools in San Diego did not have the ability to allow me to create my own program, so to speak, or to support me in that endeavour. So I was attending the forensic nursing conferences internationally that are held by the forensic nursing groups and Duquesne University was one of the schools sponsoring parts of those conferences. After the second or third time of seeing Duquesne as a sponsor, I was like okay I need to see more about this. They were very welcoming of my inquiries so I eventually decided that Duquesne was a good place to come.

2:46 – One of the things that attracted me to the online program is that it’s on your time and you have to have the self discipline to do the online program because you aren’t going to a classroom and you’re not being required, the professor isn’t sitting there while you’re in the classroom saying “I need you to do your homework”. So you have to have some self discipline on that. But if you do have that then it’s a really good program and it’s flexible with your schedule.So you have alot of flexibility in getting things done as long as you stay on top of them.

3:14 – The staff here has been very helpful, they’re very responsive, if you send them an email saying “I have a question about this or I want to ask you something about this or some other issue”, they’re very responsive.

3:25 – The veterans program here at Duquesne has been very supportive, emotionally, and saying ya know “Let us know if you’re struggling or if you have issues we can help you with.” or just someone that understands coming from the military background and trying to get a second career going, something like that. We understand those issues and we can help you get through that. That’s been very important.

3:45 – There are going to be times where you’re struggling to keep up with assignments to get ready for a big test or something like that and they understand that. They can help you, they can create a dialogue with you if nothing else. If you have an issue with some part of the school itself, say the admissions office or financial aid, whatever, they can also help you with that issue.

4:05 – I think Duquesne has been a really great choice for me, I’m really happy with it. The distance factor – the fact that I was in San Diego and the school is here in Pittsburgh didn’t make any difference at all. I still got a lot of support.

4:17 – My joke is that cardiac nursing pays my mortgage, it’s not what I actually want to be doing. I have a strong background in forensic science, so I want to go back and get that so I felt the BSN would be a really great way of giving me more of an academic foundation and credential to say “I have a BSN, I know what I’m talking about and this is what I want to create as far as providing more care to victims of abuse.

4:41 – I can go to my hospital, my hospital is one of the magnet programs, which is heavy on wanting more nurses on staff to be at the BSN level or higher. So that really helps me in approaching administration on wanting to change things.