Cathy Reinhart is picking up where she left off.
After enrolling in the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at USC Aiken in the late 1990s, Reinhart became a mother, moved back home to Michigan and put college on hold. Now, she is finishing what she started via the online RN to BSN program.
"I had been procrastinating for a long time," she said. "I was on the fence about doing it or not doing it. My oldest son, Alec, just finished his freshman year at the University of Alabama. My youngest son, Daniel, is starting his senior year of high school in the fall. I figured it was time for me."
Reinhart returned to the Palmetto State and has been working for Trident Health Services in Charleston, South Carolina, for nearly 10 years. She is the program coordinator for diabetes education. With so much going on in her life, she had to have a fully online format to be able to return to the RN to BSN program she started more than 20 years ago.
"I am quite busy," Reinhart said. "So far, the online program has been great. I am trying to keep a set schedule, which helps me. It varies at times, but I appreciate having that flexibility to try to stick to it and schedule down time.
"My family is very excited and supportive of me. The dogs, on the other hand, are usually in the office at home and are all over me while I am trying to listen to my lectures."
Back and Forth
While growing up in a Detroit suburb, Reinhart had a keen interest in science and in family members who were physicians and nurses.
"I thought nursing was a good fit," she said. "I didn't want to be a physician. Nursing is a totally different philosophy. I really appreciate the opportunities that I have had to help people improve quality of life and act as a leader to other nurses."
Reinhart graduated with an Associate Degree of Nursing from Macomb Community College in 1986. She and her husband, Jim, moved to Hilton Head, where they lived for a decade before returning home to Michigan.
She worked as a registered nurse for North Ottawa Community Health System for nearly six years before moving back to South Carolina nearly 11 years ago.
"There was an RN to BSN program through USC Aiken that was at Beaufort when I lived in Hilton Head," she said. "I started there, finished all of the nursing classes and had five general education classes left. Then, I had two babies, which really made it more difficult."
Before Reinhart left the RN to BSN program, she completed all of the nursing courses required at the time. So, returning to USC Aiken was a logical choice.
"There are a lot of nursing programs online, but I felt like I would almost be starting over with them," she said. "I finally reached out to USC Aiken thinking too much time had passed. Really, I primarily just need those five general education classes.
"They added another nursing course, and then I have to retake one of the nursing courses that they changed. It's much more convenient for me. A lot of my colleagues are doing online nursing programs. I felt like USC Aiken was more credible."
Setting the Pace
One of the nursing courses Reinhart completed since returning to the online RN to BSN program is NURS A420: Nursing Care of the Client with Complex Health Needs. She has also completed one of the general education courses since returning to the program.
"The nursing course was a nice review to help me with my current job," she said. "I am not a bedside nurse. I do diabetes education, and I see patients and provide them with self-management skills, but we do in-patient education, too. It helps me evaluate patients in the critical care setting and when they're in the acute crisis in their diabetes."
Reinhart, who enjoys walking, trail walking, jogging, kayaking and biking, is relishing the college experience at the same time as her son, Alec, who plays in the University of Alabama's Million Dollar Band. She expects to finish the RN to BSN online program in early 2020 and believes that having a bachelor's degree will lead her to the next phase of her career, building on her experience of more than 20 years.
"I work for a large healthcare corporation," she said. "I would like to maybe move into a division-level position if one related to diabetes becomes available since that is my specialty.
"The USC Aiken staff has been really helpful and accommodating. You've just got to put in the work and reap the benefits. I think a bachelor's degree opens a lot more doors and employment opportunities."Learn more about the USC Aiken online RN to BSN program.
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