You don’t often hear of a bucket list that includes "get my bachelor’s in nursing," but that’s what Debra Buck had on hers.
The 53-year-old registered nurse from Goshen, Ohio, returned to school in 2012 to scratch that goal off her list and is now even considering taking classes toward her master’s.
A Lifelong Dream
"All my life I wanted to be a nurse,” Buck says. "I remember spending time with my grandma—my mom’s mom who is 99 now—always playing nurse and healing her dachshund, Tuttie, back to health by putting Band-Aids on her tail.
"My dad's mom was a nurse in World War II; she died when I was 2 years old. My mom had a picture of her in her Red Cross uniform and I always loved that picture.”
But dreaming of being a nurse and actually becoming one were two different things, Buck recalls.
"When I graduated from high school my mom and dad and I could not afford nursing school. I worked for an OB/GYN office and the nurses in that office encouraged me to apply for nursing school at the Christ Hospital School of Nursing.”
Supported by money left to her by her father-in-law—earmarked by him specifically for Buck’s nursing education—the then 36-year-old earned her diploma in 1996 and has worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ever since. She was nominated for a Daisy Award recognizing extraordinary nurses in 2013.
A nurse in the emergency department (ED), Buck says it was a desire to be eligible for a transfer that prompted her to return to school for her bachelor’s.
"There may come a time when I might not want to work in the ED, and in order to transfer you have to have a BSN,” Buck says.
It wasn’t until she returned to school that Buck learned of a national push by the Institute of Medicine for all nurses to be baccalaureate trained by 2020.
UC’s College of Nursing has responded to the national drive for bachelor’s trained nurses. The college has offered both traditional on-site and online RN to BSN programs and, in 2013, the RN to BSN program was moved exclusively online to meet the needs of working nurses in the Cincinnati region and beyond.
UC’s online transition happened to fall during Buck’s second year of the program.
"I never wanted to do an online class,” says Buck, who thought she was "too old for that.”
She was intimidated by computers and technology and had to adapt to the move from the traditional classroom to online courses.
"It was hard at first,” Buck says. "I learn something new every day about the computer.”
Over time, she realized the convenience of online classes, and admits that she’s often up until 2 a.m. working on homework.
A first-generation college degree earner, Buck will take part in UC’s commencement ceremony April 26.
"Going back for my BSN in my 50s was so challenging for me. I work with nurses my age and older who do not have a BSN and they say, ‘I don't know how you do it.’
"I would encourage any person at any age to continue to learn. It is such a great feeling to think that April 26th, I will have my BSN.”