It will have been 25 years since Kevin Adams earned a nursing diploma when he graduates from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s online RN to BSN program in May 2017.
“I had been wanting to go back ever since I finished school,” Adams said. “I took a class here and took a class there, but I never really got into it full-time and actually pursued it. It was more working slowly toward it.
“Finally, a couple of years ago, I decided if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it now. I went ahead and looked up courses and other schools online. Very few took diploma grads — they all wanted an Associate of Nursing degree.”
However, Adams was finally able to answer when opportunity knocked in 2014. He read online that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette was accepting diploma graduates for its RN to BSN online degree program.
“I gave them a call,” he said. “Everything sounded positive. I told them there were still a couple of courses I needed for my basics. They said, ‘You can work that into your schedule and do all of it online.’ That was a big selling point.”
Adams can’t wait to add an undergraduate degree to his resume that includes 27 years of experience at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans. He is the Patient Care Coordinator for Cardiology, but Adams has held numerous positions during his tenure.
“I worked the floors at one time, and then I worked intensive care for a few years, went to cardiac cath lab for a few years, and then found my niche in cardiology and have stayed there ever since,” he said.
Back to School
Adams said he developed a routine to balance school with his busy schedule. He added that time management is one of the key factors involved with successfully earning a degree online.
“It took some discipline toward the beginning,” Adams said. “Once I realized what was required and the time I needed to devote, I learned how much reading I could get done and how much work I could get done and still balance the dog, the house and the grass. It worked out well. I work Monday through Friday, fortunately from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., so I’m off by 3:30, and it’s to the gym, home, and then after dinner start working on school work until 11 p.m.”
In addition to the flexibility, Adams said the format of the online courses was extremely appealing.
“I like the idea that it was pretty instant,” he said. “Every seven or eight weeks, you have a course out of the way. It keeps your interest. You get going in a course, then before you know it, it’s over with and you move onto the next one. And then build on that one and the next one. It really worked out well.”
Adams said his favorite course in the program is Evidence-Based Practice for RN to BSN [NURS 406]. He added that all of the courses have helped make him a better nurse, although he has another career goal in mind.
“If I’m going to work for the next 10-12 years, I want to go into teaching at either a nursing school or as a clinical specialist within the hospital,” he said. “That’s the goal. I’ve never taught before, but any time we have students that come through the department or come down with their patients to have exams done, everyone just sends those students to me. I enjoy it. It works out well.”
Of course, he will still have plenty of options open with his degree.
“Just looking into some of the nursing job prospects online and in the hospital, the bachelor’s degree is very desirable … in some cases, mandatory,” he said.
Home, Sweet Home
Adams grew up in Golden Meadow, Louisiana, about 75 miles southwest of New Orleans. Once he went to the Big Easy to attend nursing school at Charity Hospital School of Nursing, he never left.
Adams said he was aware in high school the direction he was headed with his career.
“I knew it was going to be something in healthcare,” he said. “I thought about respiratory therapy or radiology or something like that. My senior year, I thought about nursing. Of course, there weren’t a whole lot of guys in nursing back then. I thought about it and stuck to it ever since. I still enjoy it.”
Although Adams loves living and working in New Orleans, he is looking forward to making the 143-mile drive to Lafayette to walk across the graduation stage. Or, more so, his friends and family are looking forward to it.
“They know I’ve been working hard,” he said. “And they’ve been hearing about it for the last two years, so they said, ‘If you don’t walk on the stage at the end of the two years, we’re not going to talk to you again,’ which is great. So, I got a lot of support.”
Adams’ immersion in healthcare explains the extensive collection of medical antiques he began about a decade ago. (Some of his collection is featured in a photo at the top of this article.)
“Just going into nursing, there’s so much history that’s amazing to look at,” he said. “I work at a hospital that’s been there 156 years. It’s kind of fun. It’s grown into a hobby.”
Adams said he will occasionally show off some of his artifacts to students.
“I would bring some of the things to school because we have a healthcare careers week workshop every summer,” he said. “It’s amazing because the students come around, and I brought some of the old stuff to show them. What I realized is they don’t know what the new stuff looks like. That was a wake-up call for me. I’ve got a room with a couple of large doctor’s office cabinets, scales, doctor bags and eye charts.”
Soon, he’ll have a shiny new degree to hang in that room.
Learn more about the UL Lafayette online RN to BSN program.
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