David Lee has always had a passion for helping others. He is speeding through the online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at William Paterson University and is on track to graduate in May 2021.
Lee, a native of Seoul, Korea, considered many factors when selecting a university for his BSN, but the two biggest were cost and length of program. He will cross the finish line at WP in just 10 months.
He even enrolled alongside a classmate from community college, and the perks of WP’s generous transfer credit were an added bonus.
Solely Looking to Help
After graduating in December 2019 with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from Bergen Community College, Lee wanted to help in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so he began work at his local hospital. But, to his surprise, he was sent right back to his college campus to serve as a coronavirus screener.
“I got my associate’s in nursing, took the NCLEX exam and got my nursing license. I got hired in April at the beginning of [the pandemic], and then I got right into the action. It’s a lot as a new nurse,” he said.
Lee recently began a role at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson as a cardiac telemetry nurse. A condition of his employment was to complete his bachelor’s degree, and Lee had already planned on doing so for his career. Now was the time to get started.
“These days, hospitals are pushing for all nurses to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, [but] I’m thinking more about my leadership skills, my teamwork with others and just developing within my profession,” he said of his intention to earn a BSN.
“Before I chose nursing, I thought about going into the pastoral ministry. I was very involved with my church, helping out with youth ministries and offering guidance for those facing hardships,” he said. “But ultimately, I knew I wanted to be out in the world helping people. I thought nursing was perfect for me.”
He feels he made the right decision.
“Honestly, I have no regrets at all. I really love what I’m doing. It is stressful. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding. I want to keep growing so that I know how to help better and give more quality care.”
Lee is preparing to transition into the intensive care unit, but his focus right now is on being the best telemetry nurse he can be as he completes his BSN. Setting aside time to do the assignments has been key, and the online format is great for Lee.
“Sometimes after working a 13-hour shift, it’s stressful for me to think about doing homework, but I’m actually getting used to it now.”
“Especially because I’m working as a full-time nurse, the online program saves me time I wouldn’t otherwise have. I don’t have time to commute and sit in a classroom. It’s a lot more flexible and convenient.”
Self-Care: Good for the Soul
Self-care has been crucial for Lee while working in a stressful field, especially during the pandemic. He has been quarantined for much of the last few months at home or at a hotel through his job.
“I’ve done a lot of Zoom meetings, communicating with my friends and playing games online. I try to stay physically active. I’ll run a little bit here and there. I’ll work out in the hotel or in the house. I like going to outdoor restaurants, hanging out in the parks and hiking, while practicing social distancing.”
His favorite class to date is NUR 4307: Leadership Seminar, where he learned about the art of taking initiative and delegating tasks to other team members.
“I had to ask myself, ‘How can I be more involved with my nursing practice? How can I assist my community, change the environment and affect the policies here?’ I’m learning to be more of a leader and take more initiative.”
Lee was immediately able to use what he learned. The class taught him how to better utilize the daily multidisciplinary rounds he was already doing at work, and how he can communicate his concerns more clearly on behalf of his patients and seek assistance from relevant specialists.
“The nurse spends the most time with the patient, so they have the most information,” he said. “The nurse must communicate any concerns or issues the patient might have to the appropriate professional.”
For his takeaways from the program, Lee credits instructors Christiam Fajardo and Kimberly Dimino for making him a more analytical nurse, a better writer and a more critical thinker.
“I’m so grateful for my professors. They are engaging, receptive, fast to respond and will help in whatever way they can. I’ve seen myself improve so much, and I know there’s so much more I need to soak in.”
Lee’s family has been equally supportive. They’ve been surprised by how he could juggle a full-time job and college schedule, as well as how quickly he could complete the program.
“When people talk about getting bachelor’s degrees, they think years. But for me, it’s not even one year … it’s 10 months,” he said. “Later on, I’ll probably consider going for a master’s degree to keep advancing my career.”
Lee advises others considering the program: “If you’re going to be working and taking classes, you need to be dedicated and persistent, but it’s definitely going to be rewarding. You’re going to be so glad that you went through it all at the end of the day.”
Learn more about the WP online RN to BSN program.