Tammy Weaver had some extra motivation to graduate from the online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Youngstown State University (YSU) in December 2020.
“After 22 years as a nurse, I wanted to complete my goal and get my bachelor’s degree before my son, Brent, gets his,” she said. “He’s in his third year of the BSN program on campus at YSU. He has three semesters left.”
Weaver also works with her son at Trumbull Regional Medical Center in Warren, Ohio, where she is a registered nurse in the emergency department. She is also a flight nurse for STAT MedEvac.
“The RN to BSN program showed me that there are a lot of different things I could do better,” she said. “It really widened my horizons. For example, people might not understand discharge instructions.
“Instead of handing them a piece of paper, I now make sure they can read them and ask if they need me to go over every line on every page. Their recovery could be better because of something that I did.”
Weaver needed the asynchronous online format to balance her busy two-job work schedule, which often includes 24-hour shifts. She and her husband, Chris, also have a daughter, Brittany.
“The instructors were flexible and knew that we were all working. They were always open to knowing what was going on if we weren’t able to make a deadline,” she said. “During the pandemic, they became even more understanding and wanted us to focus on staying healthy.”
That was especially important when Weaver contracted COVID-19 in the final quarter of the program in November 2020.
“I let the instructor know what was happening, and I completed everything on time,” she said. “There was definitely a willingness to allow somebody to turn something in a day late with busy schedules and health factors.”
Ready for Takeoff
Weaver, 45, is from Niles, Ohio, where a high-school track and field coach she has always looked up to inspired her to pursue a career as a flight nurse.
“I thought it was the neatest job in the world,” she said. “I got into emergency medical services and worked on an ambulance through nursing school. I was taking care of injured and sick patients right out of the gate to reach my goal. I went straight into critical care and even worked in an open-heart unit at St. Elizabeth’s for seven years.”
Before earning a nursing diploma, Weaver took several classes at YSU straight out of high school. She knew that she wanted to come full circle and join her son as a college student, so she enrolled in the YSU RN to BSN online program in the fall of 2019.
“It was a factor that YSU was close,” Weaver said. “I used the writing department for suggestions for my first big paper. I was nervous about doing an online program, but it was a smooth transition and easy to do with the way that the modules are set up.”
She has enjoyed the bonding experience with her son, Brent, as he takes courses in the on-campus BSN program. She enjoys talking with him about medicine.
“I started taking the classes he has already had, but mine were much different because they were all online,” she said, noting that she was widening her horizons through the online RN to BSN while her son was “learning things for the first time.”
Fortunately, Weaver recovered from COVID-19 after quarantining at home for two weeks. She knows firsthand what it’s like to have the virus, with her family rallying around her.
“We stayed home, and thank goodness, we had Brent with us. He knew how to order Grubhub and Door Dash,” she said. “He is so caring with the patients. I get compliments from my co-workers on how much they enjoy working with him. After graduation, he wants to get his master’s degree and go into hospital administration. He was happy I got my degree. My family is excited for me.”
The information that Weaver learned in the online RN to BSN program has added a new perspective to her nursing practice, which includes 17 years in critical care.
“It was definitely applicable,” she said. “As soon as I learned it, something would trigger on the next shift that I worked. I would say, ‘I just learned that.'”
Weaver celebrated the accomplishment of earning a degree by watching the virtual commencement ceremony with her family. She looks forward to doing what she loves for a long time. In December 2021, she will celebrate again when Brent graduates.
“I couldn’t be happier to be exactly where I am in my comfort zone,” she said. “One of the other flight nurses is also in the RN to BSN program at YSU. She’s doing one class at a time and loves it. I tell all of my nursing friends about it.”
“I like the YSU format — it’s about getting you to learn something from the classes,” she said of the program’s push for practical knowledge over writing papers. “I would recommend the online RN to BSN program at Youngstown State to anyone.”
Learn more about YSU’s online RN to BSN program.