The advent of online education made it possible for Ruth Anne Milbourn to pursue the BSN, a longtime dream and personal goal.
“In the last decade especially, talk of the BSN has become very important,” says Ruth Anne, who earned the Associate Degree of Nursing in 1984 at the University of Arkansas at Monticello and started her career in coronary care at Jefferson Regional Medical Center. A native of Pansy, Arkansas, Ruth Anne was interested in pursuing further college education, but geography posed a challenge. “Living in a rural area, there aren’t colleges nearby. I was also raising my kids and working, and just never had the time to pursue it.”
Finding American Sentinel University
Ruth Anne moved around at Jefferson Regional Medical Center, working as a staff nurse and supervisor in coronary care and cardiac stepdown, and eventually moving into the intensive care unit. In 2003, she stepped away from nursing to manage the family’s residential real estate leasing business, but returned to the field in 2007, joining St. Vincent Infirmary (now CHI St. Vincent) as a staff nurse in the coronary care unit.
“CHI St. Vincent was pursuing Magnet status, and I knew that me having the BSN would become important to them,” says Ruth Anne. When she joined the education department as a clinical educator, Ruth Anne was told that the BSN was the minimum requirement. “I had hit the educational wall. My critical care educator counterpart in Little Rock told me about American Sentinel University, and when I did my research, it just seemed to fit me.” Ruth Anne enrolled in the BSN program in 2013.
Heading back to college after many years away wasn’t easy, Ruth Anne admits. “I struggled, especially with managing my time and staying on top of the deadlines,” she says. In fact, Ruth Anne retook one course to improve her grade—and ended up with an A the second time around. “I definitely had a big fear of math, but I kept at it and didn’t give up. And honestly, it’s been great. My professors have been supportive and wonderful and helped me through the classes that I was the most concerned about.”
A fantastic learning experience
To her great surprise, Ruth Anne has learned more than she ever anticipated. “Every single class I’ve taken has been a big revelation for me in terms of things I didn’t know about,” she says. “American Sentinel’s classes have offered me a world view that is so different than the view I have in my tiny little town.”
Ruth Anne has even applied what she’s learned in her job. “I’ve put almost everything I’ve learned immediately to use in my practice of educating other nurses,” she says.
Big changes at work
In 2015, CHI St. Vincent dropped Ruth Anne’s position down to part time, and so she decided to make a change. She joined Baptist Health System in Little Rock as a staff educator. The position prefers an MSN, which she intends to pursue at American Sentinel as soon as she completes her BSN this spring.
“I feel that my education at American Sentinel has definitely made me more marketable,” Ruth Anne says. One day, she hopes to teach online nursing students, and will pursue the nursing education specialization for her MSN. “I think I’m 10 years away from retirement, but I know I won’t want to completely get out of the field. I think this degree will give me the opportunity to teach new nurses, which would be a fantastic way to end my career.”
Inspired by Ruth Anne’s story? A BSN is ideal for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base, become more marketable and enjoy greater career stability and mobility. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and when you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.