Christine Coombs is in the midst of higher education delayed gratification.
“Back in the early 2000s, there was a push to go back for a bachelor’s degree, but I was busy raising four boys and running around to their activities,” she said. “I didn’t have the time or motivation to do it. When my youngest son graduated from high school last year, I said, ‘If I don’t do it now, I never will.'”
So, Coombs enrolled in the online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Southern Utah University.
“When I started the program, two of my sons were attending SUU,” she said. “I helped them with registration and getting papers submitted, so that was my deciding factor to go there. The price was also reasonable.”
Coombs and her sons, Ethan (21) and Kadin (18), are current students. Her son, Brandon (25), graduated from SUU in December 2020, and his wife, Maura, will be finishing her bachelor’s in the spring of 2021 — also from SUU. Coombs and her husband, Curtis, have one other son, Ryan (27), who, like his father, graduated from Utah State University.
“I told them I helped them with enough math and papers that they can help me now — especially those down at SUU,” she said. “They have been a support and a resource. It has helped a lot having them there. My husband has been very supportive, too.”
Addition by Subtraction
Coombs grew up in Brigham City, Utah, and planned to pursue a career in accounting after she graduated from high school and enrolled at Brigham Young University.
“The mother of one of my friends was a nursing instructor who talked me into nursing and got me going,” she said “It’s a decision I have never regretted. I discovered I loved the science, biology and pathophysiology. It’s more interesting to me than economics.”
In 1991, Coombs graduated with an Associate Degree in Nursing from Weber State University in a co-operative program with Utah State University.
“I worked in pediatrics for 25 years,” she said. “That was a lot of my background. I switched jobs four years ago and took another charge nurse position that required a bachelor’s degree.”
Since enrolling in the online RN to BSN program in March 2020, Coombs has gained new perspectives and broadened her horizons.
“The courses have all been enlightening and helped me look at things in different ways — especially since I have been a nurse for so long,” she said. “I was dreading [NURS 4361] Essentials of Evidence-Based Practice for the RN to BSN, which I am in now, but there are good points to learn in all of them. It depends on what you like to do.”
While earning a degree, Coombs splits her time working at infusion clinics at Utah Valley Hospital and American Fork Hospital and lives in Pleasant Grove. With the 100% online format, she balances school with the rest of her commitments.
“I love that I could take one class at a time,” she said. “Since I work 30-plus hours a week, I wasn’t sure how much time and energy I could devote to school evenings and weekends. It’s worked out well. I love the flexibility of being able to work when it’s convenient to me and turn things in when I need to.”
Coombs had never taken an online course before enrolling at SUU. She adjusted to the accelerated pace of the format with the help of the faculty members.
“The instructors are great to work with,” she said. “I am impressed that they send emails checking on how I am doing as a person — not just in school.
“I had a surgery last fall. They were good to work with about scheduling. They are generally concerned and helpful. You get to know the students doing the program with you.”
Although Coombs has no plans to change her career trajectory, she will keep her options open once she graduates in 2022.
“My nursing has mostly been on the side through my life, but a nurse is part of who I am,” she said. “I love the people who I get to meet on a daily basis.”
For now, Coombs enjoys being back in school and sharing the experience with her sons while she continues to grow her nurse practice.
“One of the instructors at SUU, Shane Yardley, said a bachelor’s degree won’t change the way you practice — it will change the way you think about your practice,” Coombs said.
Learn more about SUU’s online RN to BSN program.