Northwest Missouri State University never left Nicole Talbott's heart.
Sixteen years after she enrolled as a music major straight out of high school, the Rock Port, Missouri, native is on track to graduate from the online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Northwest in December 2020.
"I decided that music education was not the route I wanted to pursue," she said. "I was a CNA [certified nursing assistant] for several years. I always knew that I wanted Northwest to be my alma mater, so I decided to go back there for my bachelor's degree."
Talbott has worked full time at Mosaic Medical Center Maryville for a little more than one year and part time at Parkdale Manor for nearly two years. The flexibility of the online format helps her balance school with her hectic schedule.
She and her fiancé, Danny Moore, have seven kids between them — Katelynne (23), Logan (18), Harley (14), Cheyann (10), Savanna (9), Xander (9) and Brentley (5) — and two grandchildren, Catalina (2) and Jason (1).
"Earning a degree online is nice," she said. "I have assignments due every week, but I can pretty much do them around my work schedule. I work night shifts, so it's pretty convenient. When I work on my studies in between managing the house and the kids depends on my days off."
So far, the information that Talbott has learned in the online RN to BSN program has been beneficial as she continues to establish her nursing practice near the Northwest campus.
"I use what I have learned in the program at both of my jobs," she said. "A BSN degree is going to open up more opportunities if I want to travel to different places when my children get older and leave the house."
Although Talbott did not start off with a nursing career in mind, she soon realized that she was missing out on her true calling and changed course.
"I have always wanted to take care of people from the time I was a little girl," she said. "It made sense to go back to nursing school so I could expand my practice and be able to help more people as a certified nursing assistant."
Talbott graduated with an Associate Degree in Nursing from North Central Missouri College in May 2019. Three months later, she came full circle by enrolling at Northwest again.
"I started with the LPN [licensed practical nurse] program at North Central and went from there," she said. "I also did some online prerequisites there, so I kind of knew what to expect with the online courses in the RN to BSN program."
So far, NURS 01-302: Professional Role Transitions is Talbott's favorite course in the curriculum.
"In the interactive assignments for that course, my classmates and I bounced ideas off each other and did group projects together. It's interesting to interact with other nurses."
Talbott also enjoys the support she regularly receives from the Northwest faculty in every aspect of her higher education.
"You should expect to have to work hard, but your instructors will be there every step of the way," she said. "If you have any questions, feel free to email them or call or text them. They are wonderful about answering questions."
Pomp and Circumstance
With graduation day approaching, Talbott looks forward to wrapping up the online RN to BSN program and moving on to the task of preparing for her wedding.
"Danny and I are going to get married some time in 2022," she said. "I wanted to get my degree finished and have a year of planning.
"My family and friends are very excited for me to earn my bachelor's degree. My sister is also pursuing a bachelor's degree in nursing."
Once Talbott gets married and has more real-world experience under her belt, she plans to return to college to earn a master's degree.
"I haven't quite decided what route to go with that yet, but I figure that I am still young enough that I can decide after I am a nurse for a while," she said. "I will probably think about doing that a couple of years down the road."
Talbott, who enjoys swimming and going to the park with the kids as well as motorcycle riding with her fiancé, is proud that she will soon have a bachelor's degree from Northwest. After all, once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat.
"I absolutely have received good value out of the program," she said. "The BSN is a valuable degree to have, and I am glad that I am getting mine at Northwest Missouri State."
Learn more about Northwest's online RN to BSN program.
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