As a mom to three kids, nurse Erin Hahn had to make some changes to support her family when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down normal life. With her children attending school virtually, she made the hard decision to step away from more than 12 years of serving as a cardiology nurse.
If she was going to be at home, she decided she would do some studying of her own. She was delighted to find the online RN to BSN program at Northwest Missouri State University. Optimal for the situation, it would allow her to develop herself professionally while attending to her family's needs.
"I did some research for online programs. And one thing I really liked about Northwest Missouri State was that it was semi-close to me," she said. "I live in Kearney, Missouri. So, I felt if there was any help that I needed, it wasn't so far of a drive. I liked that it was affordable compared to a lot of the other programs."
After working as a nurse for more than a decade, Hahn was out of practice as a student and knew it might take her a while to get back into the swing of things academically. This included the process of familiarizing herself with online coursework.
A Little Guidance Goes a Long Way
Hahn cites Dr. Rachel Huston as a significant resource helping her return to school more easily. She had questions and worried about asking too many, thinking she might become a nuisance, but Dr. Huston remained a steadfast force for good along the way.
"I just wanted to make sure that I was doing things correctly, and she always responded very quickly.
It was a heavy load for nursing classes, but she was instrumental in getting you warmed up back into that school mode," Hahn added. "She expected a lot from us as students, but she also made it very clear that she was there to help if needed."
Northwest's small-town community feel holds great appeal for Hahn. Her apprehensions about the online mode and her ability to make it work were quickly dispelled once she started the program, and she has been pleasantly surprised by the format. The support of the faculty and staff in the program has given Hahn greater confidence as a student, and as she moves into her next block of courses, she is feeling even more sure of herself in this environment.
"Somebody reached out to me right away, and I didn't feel I was just another number. I felt they were trying to get to know who I was and to see how they could assist me and get me situated," she said. "It's been a long time since I have been in school, and that was one of my biggest concerns. Everyone was very helpful; they just want to see me succeed. And I liked that."
A Journey of Many Steps
Northwest has been a significant contrast to her time as an undergraduate student when she attended the University of Nebraska as a secondary special education major. The large school environment as a young student right out of high school made for an overwhelming process.
"I didn't get that one-on-one attention that I needed there. And there were just so many other things going on," she said. "What's very different from my undergrad experience, now that I'm an adult, is that I actually care about learning. And now I really enjoy school. I love my classes. So far, I'm learning a lot. I want to do well."
Special education led her to a job serving children with autism in a group home. After some re-evaluation, she decided to pursue nursing as a more direct line to helping people, which was what she loved most about the position. Hahn obtained her LPN in 2005 and her RN in 2008; she has been working in cardiology in Kansas City ever since.
The Heart of the Matter
"I worked on the progressive care unit at North Kansas City Hospital, which is the step-down unit for open-heart surgery and lung surgeries. I did that for several years," Hahn said. "And then once I had my kids, I transferred over to Meritas Health Cardiology, and that's where I worked for the last 10 years. I triaged patient calls. I worked with the physician in the clinic. I did the in-office stress testing."
When Hahn returns to work, she expects to be involved once again in cardiology, perhaps in the heart failure clinic.
Her husband Dave has been very supportive of her return to school and has continued working to make it possible. When Hahn is not busy with school, she devotes time to her three daughters: 10-year-old twins, Avery and Makenna, and their 6-year-old little sister, Landry. They like to cook and bake, creating delicious projects together.
Hahn enjoys running, often listening to true crime podcasts that might scare her into running just a little bit faster. Luckily, she is already chasing her nursing career goals with momentum.
Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University's online RN to BSN program.
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