The wait is almost over for Miranda Fillmore.
After a 14-year career gap, she is preparing to pick up where she left off. She enrolled in the online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Southern Utah University (SUU) to help bridge that gap.
“Now that my baby is getting ready to go to school in a couple of years, I want to get back into nursing,” she said. “The best way to get a refresher is to go to school and get a degree. It will also make me more competitive in getting a job again and show that I have actually done something.”
Fillmore and her husband, Darren, have four sons. She last worked as a charge nurse on a mother-baby floor in Logan, Utah.
“I have been staying at home and out of nursing,” she said. “I have kept my license active and my education up. Doing this degree now makes a lot of sense to me because I have grown as a person. It gives a nurse more confidence.”
The online format also helps Fillmore earn a degree around her own schedule.
“It’s going well,” she said. “Luckily, this program was engineered to be online before COVID-19. It takes about a week to shift gears and get used to a new instructor and a new outline for each course, but it’s manageable and the instructors are reachable. It’s been enough to keep me busy but not enough to throw me over the edge.”
Although online learning was mostly a new concept to Fillmore, she made a seamless transition to the format with help from SUU instructors and staff. The online courses she takes to maintain her license made the format familiar, but she had “never done anything formal from a university.”
“It’s easy to pick things up. The modules are understandable,” she said.
All in the Family
Fillmore, a Utah native, planned on a career in healthcare, but she first believed that her calling was to work in obstetrics and gynecology.
“I spent some shifts working with ob-gyns and realized it wasn’t quite what I wanted to do,” she said. “I wanted to be more available to my family that I didn’t have yet, so I chose nursing.”
In 2002, Fillmore graduated as a valedictorian with an Associate of Science degree. The following year, she completed an Associate of Applied Science (RN degree) from the College of Eastern Utah, which is now Utah State University Eastern, and got married.
She lived in Imperial Valley, California, for 12 years before moving back to St. George two years ago and enrolling at SUU.
“SUU required fewer prerequisites than some of the other schools, so I felt like I could get in and be doing nursing sooner,” she said.
Based on Fillmore’s cost comparisons, SUU’s online RN to BSN topped her list for affordability too.
So far, NURS 3121: Health Assessment for the RN to BSN is Fillmore’s favorite course in the curriculum.
“We can’t do most of the in-person learning at clinical sites right now,” she said. “The course had an online component with virtual patients in Shadow Health. It was so realistic.
“You could take as much time as you wanted with a virtual patient. With a real patient, you can’t do that. It was great for learning to explore and look at things thoroughly.”
Fillmore believes the information that she is learning in the program will prepare her to return to her nursing practice without missing a beat.
“I am currently in an evidence-based practice class that I didn’t think I would like,” she said. “It was kind of daunting going into it, but the instructor is great and the content has been relevant. A bachelor’s degree nurse is focused a lot more on holistic nursing for patients.”
Ready to Relaunch
Another reason Fillmore chose SUU was its proximity — she wouldn’t have to travel far to walk the graduation stage.
“I want to participate in the commencement ceremony to show my kids that you’re never too old to do something,” she said. “I want to do it for me, but mostly I want to show that to my kids.
“They knew I went to college and my husband went to college, but I wanted them to know that it’s never too late if you want to change careers or do something new. It’s never too late for education.”
Fillmore said her family and friends have encouraged her since she returned to college after a 17-year hiatus.
“Everyone was excited and supportive,” she said. “They all knew it would happen someday. They were surprised I didn’t go on immediately after I graduated with my associate degree.”
With program completion a few months away in April 2021, Fillmore looks forward to returning to nursing and seizing the possibilities that will open up once she has a BSN.
“I might go for my master’s degree,” she said. “I might teach. I’m keeping my options open. My eldest graduates from high school in a few years. If I go back into clinical nursing, it will for sure be in women’s health in some capacity. I hope it’s like riding a bike when I get back.”
Fillmore has found success in SUU’s online RN to BSN program by staying organized and keeping her eye on the end goal. She uses her always-handy phone to keep track of deadlines.
“Finding out what works for you is important,” she said. “The biggest thing I would tell someone considering the program is that they can do this.”
Take it from a valedictorian.
Learn more about SUU’s online RN to BSN program.