Ashley Navarre always thought she wanted to be a nurse, and when her grandfather’s health deteriorated after a hospital visit, she knew nursing was her destiny.
“He went to a hospital down here because he was dehydrated and had an enlarged prostate, and they used the wrong catheter, pierced his prostate and he declined after that,” she said. “He went into the hospital walking and talking, and he came out on hospice.
“As a family, we had to care for him around 24 hours a day, and as I sat with him and cared for him, the experience just spoke to me — nursing was my calling. This is what I want to do.”
Things got serious for Navarre after that.
She admitted that her grades weren’t the best in high school, but she managed to get into the Delgado Charity School of Nursing in New Orleans by the skin of her teeth.
“A lot of people don’t make it in that program, so getting into the program helped me focus and make sure that I made the grades to get out of it,” she said. “I basically walked away from a relationship because I had to make sure that I passed.”
Shortly after earning her RN license, Navarre wanted to keep her educational momentum going. She enrolled in the RN to BSN online degree program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette after her sister’s good friend explained the program and assured her that many Charity graduates had gone through the program.
“I was in that school mode, that study mode, so I wanted to enroll and just go for it,” Navarre said. “I’m the type of person that has to keep going. I know that if I did not go back right then, I would never go back.”
Today, Navarre spends her nights caring for patients with heart-related issues on the step-down Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) floor of East Jefferson Hospital in Metairie, Louisiana, devoting mornings to her online coursework.
Finding a Better System Online
Even though she is only a few classes into the RN to BSN program, Navarre is obtaining an enriched understanding of the nursing profession.
“My schedule is sometimes chaotic, but I find the time to do it,” she said. “Doing the program online helps me juggle my schedule and find the time to study.”
Navarre spends about two hours per day on her studies between her job as a nurse, her second job as a house supervisor for a nursing home and her side job running her own cosmetic company MKAsh Cosmetics. Though the schedule can be demanding, Navarre finds studies to be more manageable online.
“The biggest difference between going to class online and going to class after work is that I’m no longer trying to stay awake in class,” she said. “I have a better system now. I can work overnight, come home, get some sleep and get up and study before I have to go back to work.”
Even with a jam-packed schedule, Navarre’s ability to focus on her studies has helped her see a different side of patient care.
“The first two classes were a refresher on what we learned in my RN school, but they had more about leadership,” she said. “They have helped me to better communicate with my patients and be able to meet their needs as their nurse.”
There is a practical aspect to her studies, as well. Beyond gaining better communication skills, Navarre is adding insights on protecting patient safety.
“I am thinking more about the environment my patients are in,” she said. “In a hospital, definitely, safety is a big thing, but it’s really the professionalism used when you approach the patients and keeping a look out for the things that maintain their safety at all times.”
Navarre anticipates the program going deeper into the clinical side of nursing as she advances, but for now, she is happy to be learning the skills she will need to develop as she moves forward in her nursing career.
Being able to put what she is learning immediately into practice appeals to Navarre. She chose to work in a CCU rather than an ICU because it offered a better opportunity for her to hone her cardiac nursing skills.
“I wanted to gain more nursing experience, use my critical thinking skills, be on the floor and practice what I was trained in,” she said. “Being able to think critically about what is going on with my patients will enable me to know that I am ready for the journey when I do decide to transfer to ICU.”
Earning her BSN will bring Navarre one step closer to reaching her ultimate career goal. She intends to earn her MSN to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner one day.
“I’ve always been interested in leadership, and I think becoming a nurse practitioner will open so many avenues for me,” she said.
Navarre developed her interest in psychiatric nursing working as an LPN for four years before earning her RN license.
“I worked in memory care, so I dealt with a lot of people with dementia, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia,” she said.
Her older sister, Angell, has come to see her as an inspiration for being a career go-getter.
“Angell’s been an RN for about 11 years, and she’s been wanting to go back,” Navarre said. “She hasn’t really had the time to go back, but I’m encouraging her to just go for it.”
“Just go for it” has been Navarre’s mantra when it comes to her continuing education, and she believes it to be the best approach to higher learning.
“My advice is to just keep going,” she said. “A lot of people I graduated with wanted to take a break from school before going back, but a lot of them took that break and never came back. It’s really not as bad as it seems once you have a system in order. Just go for it!”
Learn more about the UL Lafayette online RN to BSN program.