In the Kentucky Appalachians, there are two special kinds of people who hold an almost revered status in the community: coal miners and veterans. Zelma Watson, a registered nurse and home health clinical manager for Pikeville Medical Center, is entrusted with the care of these special hometown heroes through programs administered by the United Mine Workers of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs. With 48 employees under her charge, Zelma shoulders a great deal of professional responsibility to go along with her other full-time job as a mom.
“I always wanted to continue my education and obtain my BSN,” Zelma said. “It just seemed like every time I got ready to start it was a hassle.” She spoke of byzantine enrollment processes at other schools she investigated, adding to the challenges of juggling work and family responsibilities. Then a co-worker told her about American National University’s online RN-to-BSN program.
“The process was just like water flowing…it was not what I had experienced in the past,” she said. “They were always understanding.” ANU’s online student services and admissions staff helped make the process easier; and being close to a local campus was also helpful as a source of support.
Still, embarking on the program was a big step. She had been out of school for more than a decade, and she had never taken an online class before, much less an entire program. After her first term, however, she learned that her fears were unfounded.
“The online format allowed me to actually do it at home, or on my lunch break, or whatever,” said Zelma. “I’ve always done in-class courses, but I really like the online because it lets me be me.” The format offered her time to concentrate on material free of distractions, yet still offered the opportunity for interaction with her classmates. “I really, really love the discussion board,” she explained. “What someone takes from a reading, I might not have taken it the same way.” Group projects also gave her the chance to get to know other students even though many lived far away.
The fact that ANU’s program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education was important as well. “ANU having CCNE accreditation is reassuring to me that I am receiving the best education that I possibly could,” Zelma added.
Despite having achieved much in her dozen years as a registered nurse, Zelma looks forward to continuing her education with an ultimate goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. She’s one of thousands of students who have found American National University to be the perfect place to continue their career-focused education.