With UW Flexible Option, students aren’t tied to semester schedules and instead choose their own pace to complete their degrees. Alumna Denise Herriges chose to finish her RN to BSN degree in two years.
Searching for a New Career
Denise had planned to attend college right after high school. But life took some twists and turns and she instead spent much of her life in Paris. At age 42, Denise returned to the U.S. along with her three daughters, wondering how she would provide for her young family as a single mother.
It wasn’t until she watched a hospice nurse care for her father that a lightbulb went off.
“Right then, I knew I wanted to become a nurse. I thought, ‘I’m compassionate, I’m smart. I can do this.’”
To support her household, Denise earned an Associate Degree in Nursing from Moraine Park Technical College in 2011. Soon after, she became an infusion nurse at Kraemer Cancer Center, part of the Froedtert Network.
Then at age 49, Denise decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree.
She researched nursing degrees and discovered the UW Flexible Option competency-based RN to BSN program. Students progress at their own pace and aren’t confined to a rigid weekly or semester-based schedule. Instead, they plan their education in three-month subscription periods.
The curriculum is developed by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee faculty–the same faculty who teach on-campus and online nursing courses. The degree is the same well-respected traditional University of Wisconsin degree on-campus and online students earn.
“The lack of classroom time appealed to me most. I was raising three kids by myself. I live 45 minutes from UW-Milwaukee so going to campus wasn’t an option. And this is a reputable degree! It’s not from some obscure, online no-name institution.”
Denise made a plan to graduate in two years. Typically, she took three competency sets, which are similar to courses, each subscription period. In the summer, though, she only took two competency sets so she and her children could enjoy their much-anticipated, annual camping trips.
Get a UW Flexible Option Degree Guide
Download an introductory guide (PDF) to the self-paced, competency-based UW Flexible Option programs, including details about costs, admission requirements, and more.
Opportunity to Leverage Existing Knowledge
With UW Flexible Option, Denise was able to use her knowledge and experience as a nurse to progress more quickly through some of the curriculum.
“I’m a member of the Ethics Committee at the hospital. My experience helped me tremendously with a competency set titled Global Health: Ethics and Human Rights. I wrote papers on leadership and chronic care that used real oncology examples related to policy changes and caring for terminally ill patients. I definitely got through some competency sets faster than others because of my nursing knowledge.”
Denise graduated in 2017, meeting her goal.
A Rewarding Role
Denise credits her degree for her increased influence at the Kraemer Cancer Center.
“I enjoy my job so much more. Infusion nurses already have a great deal of responsibility administering chemotherapy. In addition, I’m now able to handle patient education. When someone is newly diagnosed with cancer, I explain the treatment, what side effects patients can expect, and how to cope. I wouldn’t have the opportunity do this with just an associate degree.”
What’s Next for Denise?
“New regulations are coming later this year that have to do with hazardous drug handling, and Froedtert nursing staff across the nation will be involved with the transition. I’m on a committee to identify obstacles with the transition. I’ll help roll out the change smoothly to thousands of nurses in the Froedtert Network. It’s all very satisfying.”
Would you like to earn your BSN at your own pace? Please contact an enrollment adviser today at 1-877-895-3276 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your career and education goals.
“I highly recommend UW Flexible Option for nurses who work full-time and need to go at their own pace.”