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Anne Raga
Gillette, WY
Regis University, RN to Master of Science in Nursing 

Anne knew she wanted to be a nurse from an early age and she started in the healthcare field while she was in high school. “I started working as a nurse’s aide and then went on to become an LPN when I was 20,” Anne said. “I worked as an LPN for 15 years before becoming an RN. My goal was always to be an RN, and while I was an LPN, I was taking classes and looking for way to go back to school to gain my associate’s degree.”

Obtaining a master’s degree wasn’t something Anne gave much thought to initially, but she did want to earn her bachelor’s degree. “I started my BSN program and was working through that when Regis launched their RN-MSN program. My career direction had changed at the hospital and I was working in administration. It became apparent to me that earning my master’s degree would enable me to be successful in my new career path and I would be better able to meet the demands of my current job,” Anne said.

Anne is now the director of nursing at the hospital. She feels that achieving her master’s degree helped in her personal development, but her job at the hospital didn’t change. “In my current facility, I have been able to demonstrate my abilities and I’ve had wonderful opportunities. If I made the decision to move to another organization, I would need to have my master’s and credentials to even be considered,” she said.

But earning her master’s degree wasn’t without obstacles. Working while going to school is a challenge for most people, and Anne was no exception. She faced a bigger obstacle when she was asked to take on more responsibility at work. “Working full time and trying to study can be hard. When you have limited time to study, the reading and writing is hard to get done,” Anne said. “I was asked to serve as interim vice president for nine months, and it was just too hard to find time to study. I had to put everything on hold until I resumed my regular position and then was able to get back into my program.”

Now that she has graduated from her master’s program, Anne offers advice to younger nurses. “I tell them that their basic education gives them a foundation for the tasks but the bachelor’s gives more understanding of nursing theory and practice,” she said. “The master’s education builds on that knowledge in the areas of nursing practice, cultural diversity, ethics and leadership and more. It provides better understanding of research and its application to evidence-based practice, and an expanded appreciation for the profession. It has helped me to bring structure and meaning to our nursing processes, therefore giving our nurses a foundation for practice. These were wonderful discoveries for me along the way. You don’t know what you don’t know—until you go back to school.”

But being more educated doesn’t change the need to be present and involved with your patients. In Anne’s experience, there is a lot more to patient care than just completing tasks. “There are many healthcare specialties. What makes nursing unique is caring. You have to have all the scientific knowledge, but if you can’t connect with your patient and develop that relationship, then the patient is left lacking—your patient leaves with something missing. If someone is so focused on the tasks and not the patient, it is a deficit,” Anne said.

Anne is a big proponent of Regis University. She feels the university really understands the needs of adult learners and the flexibility of the online programs make it possible for those working full time to complete a higher education. “I love Regis because they really get online nursing and continuing education. They treat you like an experienced professional. They are very supportive of their students and give them the opportunity to learn from each other. They also understand that their students are working adults with families. If you need anything from them, you just need to let them know what is going on in your life; they will work with you. A lot of other academic institutions just don’t get it,” she said.


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