When Joanna An graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she became WGU Texas’ 20,000 graduate. As we look forward to celebrating WGU’s 25th anniversary in 2022, Joanna’s educational journey is just one of the many stories of the more than 250,000 WGU graduates we’re showcasing to celebrate these milestones.
Like many WGU students, Joanna learned about WGU from coworkers who had graduated from WGU and work in healthcare. Those conversations with colleagues led to her own research, which became the pathway to enrolling and completing her BSN degree program at WGU.
Joanna had earned her associate degree in nursing and wanted to continue her education in healthcare, but tuition costs in California of $100,000 and more to complete a BSN were too expensive and highly competitive. After earning her ADN, she worked in acute dialysis to help save for the next step in her education. “My mom is a nurse and has her ADN and she encouraged me to continue with my education and earn my BSN, which may require a master’s later in my career,” said Joanna.
Nursing programs across the U.S. are highly competitive, requiring high GPAs to enter through the moment you sit in for the NCLEX exam, and because nurses play such important roles in the healthcare industry. The demand for nurses will continue to rise for the next decade as nurses retire and the population ages. Meeting students where they live with online, competency-based education is well-suited for educating nurses to address critical shortages in rural and urban settings.
For Joanna, WGU’s online program was a natural fit. Now living in Texas, she is considering her next step in higher education, using her previous experience and degree and applying for WGU’s Family Nurse Practitioner program and specializing in Women's Health. “I'm interested in that as a specialty,” she said. “If I’m investing the time and hours studying, I want to venture into women’s health as a career I would enjoy.”
Joanna credits her “amazing” program mentor for keeping her on track through her BSN program—so much so she asked if she could stay with her through other programs at WGU. “She gave me a lot of advice on what courses to take, when to take them to help me accelerate through the program, and not be overloaded or overwhelmed.” Joanna was working full-time and switched to a part-time position when she moved to Texas, working for a local hospital system in the Austin area. While there, she recognized the need to continue her education if she wanted to be more than a bedside nurse. Today, the nursing field offers many alternatives to bedside or hospital work.
“During the pandemic, it was hard in the beginning to focus on coursework, but my WGU program mentor helped keep me on track and up to date on assignments,” said Joanna. Because of COVID, the unit she was working on needed more help to attend to patients. “Some days, I was working at the hospital 18 to 19 hours. I didn’t have extra time to study because they needed all our help. But I was able to persevere and finish my program, with that push from my mentor.” Now equipped with more hands-on experience and her BSN, Joanna has options and a clear path to a long and meaningful career in the healthcare industry.
To learn more about WGU Texas’ nursing degree programs, visit texas.wgu.edu/healthcare.