Shelby’s Story: From Bachelor’s In Biology to Nursing

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Student journey from having a bachelor's in biology to nursing.

From a young age, Shelby thought she wanted to be a doctor. So she did what many pre-med students do and majored in biology as an undergrad. However, the universe had a different plan for her, and she soon found herself called to become a nurse. This is her story about going from a bachelor’s in biology to nursing.

Finding Her Calling as a Nurse

Every nursing school student has her or his own reasons to become a nurse. For Shelby — a recent graduate of Marquette University’s Direct Entry MSN program in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin — it was the personal connection nurses form with patients that ultimately drew her to a career in nursing.

“My dad was a critical care patient all my life, so I was raised in the hospital,” she explains. “That’s why I wanted to go to med school.”

This led the Houston native to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology. But as Shelby says, life happened — in the process revealing to her the kind of care she wanted to provide to patients.

marquette msn student

After [my father] passed, I realized I wanted more one-on-one time with patients, because my dad spent a lot of time with the nurses and not too much time with doctors.

Still, Shelby felt conflicted about what she wanted to do and spent the next few years working odd jobs and traveling as much as she could. Having already earned one bachelor’s degree in biology, she didn’t want to go back to school to earn a second. Yet her thoughts kept returning to the care nurses had provided her father.

Then one of her friends told her about nurse practitioners. NPs occupy a unique space in healthcare, capable of providing care to patients of all ages, with their scope of practice varying from state to state. In some states, nurse practitioners have limited roles and cannot prescribe medications without a physician signing off, while other states grant NPs full practice authority, allowing them to see patients and prescribe medications with little or no physician oversight.

See yourself as a nurse practitioner? Here we break down the five steps to becoming an NP with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

With that understanding, Shelby began looking for programs that would allow her to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) — a crucial step on the path to becoming an NP, should she wish to further her career. That’s when she discovered Marquette University’s Direct Entry MSN program in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

Relocating from Texas to Wisconsin to Earn Her MSN

Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN program makes it possible to earn your master’s degree in nursing in as few as 21 months through an intensive blend of online coursework, hands-on skills and simulation labs at our Pleasant Prairie learning site, and clinical rotations at some of the area’s top providers.

How Can You Earn an MSN in as few as 21 Months?

Our rigorous nursing curriculum leverages your previous non-nursing undergraduate degree to focus on professional nursing coursework. After students complete the necessary prerequisites courses, depending on their previous field of study, they are able to complete the Direct Entry MSN program in 19–21 months.

Immediately, what impressed Shelby about Marquette was the support she received from her admissions adviser. Within days of filling out the online request form, she was talking to an adviser who helped her with everything from ensuring a nutrition course she took would count as a prerequisite, to applying for the program, to finding a place to live. He even made sure Shelby, who had never seen snow in person, had the right tires for winter driving.

“He always kept in contact, and no other schools did that,” says Shelby. “He did a lot of the work. I’m so thankful for him.”

However, it wasn’t just the commitment of the admissions team that drew her to Pleasant Prairie. Marquette’s stellar reputation for turning out top-tier nurses, the school’s Jesuit tradition, and the dedicated attention due to small class sizes, all contributed favorably to her decision. And there was something else … “I was able to see snow for the first time, so that was great,” she says.

Now a registered nurse working in an intensive care unit (ICU), Shelby is providing the kind of hands-on patient care she witnessed with her father and getting a few years of experience with plans to apply for a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) program.

4 Reasons to Become a Nurse

Pediatric clinical
Marquette nursing student with pediatric patient

From career opportunities to making a difference in people’s lives every single day, there are many reasons to become a nurse. Here are five worth considering.

1. Nursing Offers a Wealth of Career Opportunities

As a nurse, there’s no reason to think you’ll spend your entire career in the hospital. . In fact, healthcare has moved far beyond the acute care setting, and there are many and great opportunities for nurses in other settings. Nurses can find work at outpatient clinics, schools, offices, law firms (as legal nurse consultants), factories, sporting events, insurance companies (as nurse navigators), and in people’s homes. Nor do nurses who want to work in hospitals need to feel tied to one place. Travel nursing positions pay you to live and work in different places for short durations (usually around 13 weeks).

Additionally, MSN-educated nurses can become clinical managers and nurse educators. Not to mention, there are many advanced practice positions available to nurses who go on to earn a specialty certification (such as nurse practitioner) or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, something that appealed greatly to Shelby.

2. Nurses Are in High Demand

In many parts of the country, nurses are in very short supply, and this shortage will only continue to grow with the demand for healthcare services (and the number of retired Americans). In fact, the American Nursing Association estimates that through 2022, in the United States, there will be more RN jobs available than any other profession.

While an MSN degree won’t guarantee you higher pay at the beginning of your career, in an industry that is slowly working toward its goal of a workforce that is 80% BSN-educated by 2020, it will certainly help your resume to stand out.

3. Nurses Spend More Time with Patients

For many students, it’s the time nurses are able to spend with their patients that appeals to them the most. Nurses truly are on the front lines of care. While a doctor in a hospital may only see a patient for a few minutes a day, nurses spend considerable time with them and their families. This often means nurses are the first to identify when a patient’s condition has changed. This extra time with patients also allows nurses to learn more about their patients — their emotional states, concerns, etc. — and to serve as their advocates.

4. Nursing Offers Flexibility

Nursing is perfect for someone like Shelby, who loves to travel. Nurses — at least those who work three 12-hour shifts a week — tend to find out their schedules far enough in advance to plan around them. Let’s say one week you work Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and the next you work Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. There’s no reason you couldn’t take advantage of those seven days off to travel or pursue outside interests — without taking unpaid time or dipping into your paid vacation time.

Additionally, nurses have plenty of options when it comes to hours worked. For example, a nurse can work part-time, a “.9” (meaning nine out of 10 days in the case of 8-hour workdays), three 12-hour shifts, or five 8-hour shifts, among other options. Nurses can also work days or nights. In fact, many new nurses prefer to work evenings because they can earn more money thanks to shift differentials (different pay brackets for different times of the day).

Give us a call today to find out whether Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN program in Pleasant Prairie is right for your transition from a bachelor's in biology to nursing.