Twenty years after embarking on a successful nursing career, Lileth Encarnacion is fulfilling a long-term goal by returning to college.
She is on track to complete the online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Youngstown State University (YSU) in February 2021.
“I had been wanting to do it for a long time, but I was scared because I knew it would be a lot of work,” she said. “It takes a lot of time. The flexibility is nice.
“This was my first time doing online. I adjusted quickly. In the beginning, it was a little hard. Once you get used to it, it gets easier.”
Encarnacion is a registered nurse first assistant at Ohio State University’s Richard M. Ross Hospital. She has worked at the heart and vascular center for four and a half years.
“My schedule is busy, but I have some time to do some work in between cases,” she said. “I try to do schoolwork when I have that availability.”
Encarnacion is part of YSU’s first online RN to BSN cohort and learned about the program after clicking on a Facebook advertisement.
“Once I talked to somebody from YSU, I decided to do it,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about [the school]. The instructors are very helpful and accommodating. They know that you get busy as a nurse. They are very good.
“If you have questions, you email or call them. You can text some of them. If I have a question, I email and then usually get an answer right away.”
A Pleasant Surprise
Encarnacion is from Manila, Philippines, and moved to the United States in 1994 after her family had immigrated and settled. She planned to become a physical therapist and didn’t want to leave her homeland.
But the universe had other plans, and she almost stumbled into the nursing profession while waiting to enter a physical therapy program.
“At the same time, I applied for the nursing program, got accepted and decided to go with it. It’s been good,” she said.
After graduating with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from Owens Community College in 2000, Encarnacion began her career at the University of Toledo, where she worked for 16 years. She enrolled in the online RN to BSN program at YSU in October 2019.
“I will not get a raise in pay at my job for earning a bachelor’s degree, but it’s something I wanted to have,” she said. “I am excited to be almost done with the program. My last class, Evidence-Based Practice (NURS 3750), should be an interesting one. I am looking forward to it.”
Although Encarnacion has a vast amount of real-world experience, the information that she is learning in the program has helped her see a broader picture of nursing and boosted her practice.
“I had some projects that I did [for school] that I can connect to my job,” she said. “So far, I have gotten good value out of the RN to BSN program. It’s a lot of work, but it’s doable.”
On the Go
Away from work and school, Encarnacion is plenty busy. She and her husband, Edzel, have three children — Ethan (18), Ean (16) and Lizelle (11).
“My kids have helped me out … with school,” she said. “My husband has also been supportive.”
The flexibility of the online format is also big for Encarnacion because she spends so much time at her kids’ extracurricular activities.
“It’s nice because my son, Ean, is a club soccer player,” she said. “We travel all over for his games. I can travel and still do my schoolwork. I love going to their activities. My kids are very active.”
Now that Encarnacion is close to completing the online RN to BSN program at YSU, she looks forward to embarking on the next phase of her nursing practice.
“I would like to possibly go into management someday,” she said. “I like what I do now. When I retire, maybe I can do something else. I like working for universities. I am sure that this degree will open up some opportunities for me.”
After Encarnacion’s time at Youngstown State University, the world will be her oyster.
Learn more about YSU’s online RN to BSN program.