Once upon a time, there was a student who wanted to advance her nursing career. She enrolled in an associate degree program and was well on her way to her degree.
But her dream wasn’t as simple as wanting a job and applying for it. Without her bachelor’s degree and more work experience, almost every employer she talked to turned her away.
This is the story of Crystal Crafton, and it’s the story of many nurses pursuing their associate degree in nursing. But for Crafton, the story doesn’t end in rejection or frustration.
While working on her associate degree, a friend told her about Boise State’s RN-BS in Nursing program. Crafton could work on both her associate and bachelor’s degrees at the same time, and a year after she finished the first degree, she would have her second. It could save her time and money.
Crafton and some of her other friends thought this sounded like a good idea. They compared the pro’s and con’s of Boise State’s program to other similar programs, and evaluated the cost, flexibility and time commitment. And what did they find?
“It fit all the criteria; it was super flexible and the price was slightly better,” Crafton said.
So the second semester into her associate degree, she started pursuing her bachelor’s.
Initially, she was hesitant because online programs often have a bad reputation for allowing students to “just do what they have to do to get by,” Crafton said. “The thing that pleasantly surprised me was that a lot of these nurses were in the same position that I was, and they really wanted to learn.”
This wasn’t Crafton’s first time taking online courses. Crafton earned her MBA from an online program in 2012, but five years passed between finishing that program and beginning her nursing degrees. During that time, she felt that she somewhat lost her written communication abilities.
“Being back in the online program where there was a lot of reading and a lot of writing, I felt like I was able to get those skills back pretty quickly, and then build on what I had done in my master’s program,” Crafton said.
But beginning the program in the spring of 2020 was not quite smooth sailing. The pandemic changed the entire world’s reality and classes were a considerable time commitment.
On top of balancing full-time employment and two young children at home, Crafton worked hard to stay organized and prioritize her studies. One of the most important things she learned early on was to rely on her academic advisor, Maura Rasmussen.
Crafton never had to worry about what class she should take next or if she would graduate on time. Rasmussen reassured her that she had everything planned out and would take care of all the details.
“I knew she had me on track and it was going to work out,” Crafton said. “And I graduated when she said I would.”
After two and a half years of readings, discussion boards, projects and papers, Crafton is now a registered nurse with both her associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing.
“I feel like everything’s finally coming together,” she said. “It’s been so much work and it feels like it’s paying off pretty quickly.”
Shortly after graduating in May 2022, Crafton updated her résumé and applied for her dream job at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California. Three days later, she got the call: she would soon be advancing her career as a medical-surgical staff nurse. Crafton could not be more excited to begin.
“I was not even considered for lots of jobs that I wanted before I got my bachelor’s,” she said. “I think a huge impact was being able to put BSN on my résumé.”