Jennifer Farrer took a hiatus from the workforce so she could prepare to become a mother. She returned to work in an entirely different profession.
“I spent some time at home,” said Farrer, who previously worked in the dental field. “For me, that was the big reason why I went back to school for nursing. I wanted a career where I could have that fulfilment of helping and serving others, and I wanted a career I would enjoy and [one in which I] felt like I was making a difference. At the same time, I wanted a career conducive to my family life.”
Farrer graduated with an Associate of Applied Sciences with a major in nursing from Aiken Technical College in 2011.
After completing her associate degree program, Farrer took some time to work as an RN before continuing her education through the University of South Carolina Aiken’s online RN to BSN program. She graduated in August 2017. Before she walked across the stage to receive her BSN degree, she was promoted from RN to assistant nurse manager at University Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, where she has worked for five years.
“I didn’t know nursing would be such a good fit until I tried on the shoes for size, per se,” she said. “It has been a good fit for me and my personality. Nursing allows lots of room for opportunity and growth. There’s a lot of diversity within nursing, so there’s a broad range for different interests.”
Farrer has three children – Grady (11), Kimberly (9) and Matthew (2). She hopes they will follow her lead into higher education.
“Of course, I would much rather they get through school earlier in life – that would be the goal,” Farrer said. “Another goal of mine is to be a good example for them and, hopefully, encourage them to pursue their professional goals and dreams one day.”
Farrer said she received exactly what she wanted from the online RN to BSN program: enhanced knowledge and expanded career opportunities.
“There is a big push for nurses to get that four-year degree,” she said. “When I accepted my position at the hospital, it was almost a requirement for us to get a four-year degree, but it was also something I’ve always wanted to do and a professional goal I had. I appreciated the push to go ahead and complete that goal. It was part of the bigger picture.”
The online format made it easier for Farrer to fit school into her busy work schedule and home life with her husband, T.J., and kids.
“I felt like I was able to find a balance,” she said. “To me, it was doable. That didn’t mean it was easy, but it was achievable.”
She chose the USC Aiken online RN to BSN program because of familiarity with the local school and the esteem of its nursing program.
“USC Aiken has a really good reputation with the CSRA [Central Savannah River Area] hospitals in our area,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of that.”
Farrer had previously taken an online course before she enrolled in the bachelor’s degree program, but she was pleased with some of the unforeseen advantages of the 100 percent online RN to BSN.
“I expected it to be a more self-governed kind of program where you were doing a lot of self-teaching, but the instructors made themselves so available, answered questions and got back with you in a very timely fashion. This is not easy material, but with them offering their guidance and support, I was really able to accomplish the tasks that I had.”
Farrer said the instructors in the program consistently went above and beyond to help enhance the student experience.
“I completed a very large research project that was very involved,” she said. “My instructor really freed herself up. She offered office hours, either through phone or email, when she would be available for me to ask questions so she could help guide me. All of the instructors did that. Additionally, if you live within driving distance of the school, they will set up office hours to meet you personally at a time that’s convenient for you.”
Farrer, who is a medical–surgical nurse with a focus in palliative care (symptom management for chronic illness), said one of her favorite courses was Leadership & Management.
“It really allowed flexibility in the different assignments so that we can tailor them and tailor our research into things of interest that will help us in the future or maybe specialize to our scope of practice,” she said. “That’s been very beneficial. It’s helped build on those professional skills and realize the strengths we have in ourselves that will benefit us out in the workforce.”
Not Finished Yet
After graduation, Farrer’s immediate goal is to earn hospice and palliative care certification. She then hopes to enter a Master of Nursing program within the next couple of years.
“I’m 35, so the real reward is just getting that BSN, getting to be a part of the whole USC Aiken experience and the interaction I’ve had with the teachers,” she said. “They have freely offered up professional advice that has not only helped me with my schoolwork, but also influenced my delivery of care at the hospital.”
Farrer said that in addition to her professors, the people closest to her have provided her with plenty of help while she earned her degree.
“I have had such a huge amount of support and encouragement,” she said. “Everyone is thrilled. I feel like most my friends and my family realize that this was a long-term goal that I have had for some time. They’re glad to see me finish up.”
Farrer would also recommend the USC Aiken online RN to BSN program to any nursing professional.
“The program will definitely help them reach the professional goals they set for themselves,” she said. “It’s challenging, but the reward is well worth the challenge. It’s definitely doable with work and family.”
Now that she has added a bachelor’s degree to her nursing experience, the sky is the limit.
“I’ve always been interested in and found joy in helping other people,” Farrer said. “I don’t know any other profession where you get to be so hands-on in helping people like nursing allows you to do.”
Learn more about the USC Aiken online RN to BSN program.