After spending the last nine years as a stay-at-home mom to her four children, Kira Mattox had an epiphany.
“I realized that my youngest would soon be in first grade,” she said. “It dawned on me: ‘What the heck am I going to do with myself?'”
Her answer to that question was to enroll in the online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Southern Utah University in the spring of 2020.
“I was excited to get back to work and make a difference,” she said. “I left the nursing world nine years ago, so I am ready to return.”
Mattox is focusing on college while taking care of Diego (15), Lysander (10), Damon (9) and Éowyn (5) with her husband, Jonah. The flexibility of the online format helps Mattox carve out time to study around her other commitments.
“I could not be going back to school if it wasn’t online,” she said. “There are five trips to school a day right now, so I have got to be able to study on my time. So far, it has worked out great.”
Before leaving the workforce, Mattox gained two years of valuable real-world experience as a registered nurse. She and her family moved from the east coast to Utah when her husband landed a job in Sandy, which helped lead her to SUU.
“It was important for me to find an accredited university,” she said. “I plan on continuing my education and at least getting a Master of Science in Nursing, so I also needed a university with a good reputation. SUU had both of those things.”
Mattox was raised in Monmouth, Maine, where she zeroed in on a career path while she was still in elementary school.
“When I was eight years old, I did a school project on Florence Nightingale and decided that was the life for me,” she said. “I knew then that I wanted to become a nurse when I got older. I love helping people and making a difference.”
After graduating with an Associate of Science in Nursing from Central Maine Medical Center College of Nursing and Health Professions in 2009, she worked in medical-surgical trauma at Central Maine Healthcare for two years.
Although Mattox has not been back in school for over a decade and has never enrolled in a fully online degree program, she made a seamless transition to distance learning. She believes that it’s important to look ahead and prepare for what’s coming up in her courses.
“At the start of every week, I look ahead at what’s due and plan my study schedule,” she said. “I start thinking about the assignments early and designate time during the week to work on them. That has been helpful to me in balancing my time between family and school.”
So far, NURS 4421: Influencing Quality Within Healthcare is Mattox’s favorite course in the online RN to BSN curriculum.
“I don’t want to be a bedside nurse — that wasn’t for me,” she said. “I am passionate about making systems better and improving quality for everyone, so I especially enjoyed that class.”
Age of Enlightenment
Mattox has a large support system at home as she works toward earning a degree while still spending time with her family members, who love playing video games together.
“They expected me to go back to school sooner or later,” she said. “They told me, ‘This is you. Go do it.’ Diego told me he was proud of me.
“He said, ‘Mom, you’re the smartest person I know. You should be out there again.'”
Even though Mattox is still in the early stages of her return to higher education, she is eager to lay the groundwork to pick up her nursing practice where she left off. She also has an eye on a career goal once she re-establishes herself in the workforce.
“I want to become a nurse informatician or a nurse scientist,” she said. “Getting my BSN is the first step to getting into those fields. This degree will for sure help open up some opportunities for me.”
Surely, Florence Nightingale would be proud.
Learn more about SUU’s online RN to BSN program.