When it came time to choose a career, Jackson McBride took his inspiration from the woman who influenced him most — his mother, a pediatric nurse. Growing up, he was always impressed by her good character, empathy and ability to care for others, which she exhibited both at work and at home. “That’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to become a nurse,” he said.
McBride earned his Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, in the spring of 2021. When he decided to go straight into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program the next fall, his older sisters suggested their alma mater, Southern Utah University (SUU).
“They said it was a fantastic school,” he remembered, noting their high praise for university professors and the quality of education overall. That October he enrolled in SUU’s online RN to BSN program, which offered the flexibility he needed as a working nurse.
McBride graduated in August 2022 and now champions the benefits of online learning to his colleagues.
“I highly recommend nurses finish their bachelor’s degree online in the way that I did,” he said. “You can work full time and continue to develop your clinical experience and your career while also getting paid…which obviously is awesome.”
Finding the Right Path
McBride grew up in Orem, Utah, with three siblings who went on to work in healthcare. But when he enrolled at Snow College after high school, he didn’t have a career plan. “I went down there on scholarship to play soccer,” he said.
Soon enough, McBride found his path. “I always was fascinated with the human body, the anatomy, the physiology, how it worked,” he remembered. He also loved helping people. Through nursing he could pursue his interest in medical science and also serve others, he realized, just as his mother did in her career.
SUU’s streamlined transfer process for RNs seeking a bachelor’s degree allowed him to make a smooth transition to the university after earning his ADN. He also adjusted well to learning online in the RN to BSN program.
“To be able to have my job, three 12-hour shifts a week, and also to have online school afterward, was really, really helpful,” he said. “Because I didn’t have to worry about making my work schedule around class schedules and attending in person.”
McBride also liked the fact that each course had a similar structure. Weekly learning modules gave him a roadmap to follow, and professors were generous with assignment deadlines.
“They never put too much on our plates,” he said.
Growing Knowledge, Advancing Skills
McBride elevated his nursing practice by earning a BSN, particularly his approach to care planning and delivery. While he says it’s common to “walk into a shift and have three patients that are fully loaded with a lot of things to do throughout the day,” he’s now more organized and confident in his skills.
“How to prioritize patients and how to manage time within the hospital is a big thing that I was able to learn,” he said. “And it’s been a big help for me.”
Some of the unique clinical opportunities the program offered continue to resonate with him as well, including an encounter he had during one of his favorite classes, Nursing for Wellness in Older Adults.
“One of the clinical experiences that we had was talking with an individual of the older generation and getting their perspective on their health and their health management,” he said. “Also their emotional and mental management as well with the effects of aging. To be able to get that perspective was really eye opening for me.”
McBride is thankful for the support he received from SUU nursing faculty throughout the program and for the role they played in his success.
“All the professors that I interacted with through email and video chats were very helpful, very understanding and very patient,” he said. “They were always willing to lend a good ear to us and give us the things that we needed to accomplish our goals.”
Sharing the Journey
McBride is currently a pediatric RN at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. His mother also worked there during her early days as a nurse, and today they enjoy comparing notes as colleagues. He says she’s proud of all he has accomplished. “She loves seeing me progress in my career.”
He provides his young patients and their families the same “good ear” professors offered him as a student, listening with empathy and offering support. He believes compassionate care is essential to nursing practice, and that hope can be transformative.
“I think what I enjoy a lot is being able to help these kids recover from an illness or disease or a surgery, whatever it is, to be able to go back home to their families and their friends, and school and sports and a life, enjoyment,” he said.
McBride also remains dedicated to learning and plans to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to pursue advanced clinical or teaching opportunities in the future. He’s glad to have the foundation a BSN provides as he prepares for graduate coursework.
“It sets me up for great success in the future,” he said. “It helps me to become very financially stable, get ahead in my career.”
McBride is happy he chose SUU and values the good experience he had there learning online. “It was a great program. I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I’m glad I did it. It was amazing.”
Learn more about Southern Utah University’s online RN to BSN program.