A growing number of U.S. hospitals are requiring their nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), as opposed to the long-accepted associate’s degree (ADN). This new requirement limits both the career opportunities and earning potential for thousands of current and aspiring nurses; the average earning potential drops from $89,000 to $73,000 for those with just an ADN.
It also leaves some nurses unable to advance in careers that they have worked tirelessly to build. Rai Doty of Salt Lake City, Utah, found herself stuck working as a nurse without her BSN knowing she could do more if given the chance.
“It’s very frustrating to know that you can have 10 years of experience and still be limited in what you can do,” Doty said. “I was limited in the facility I’m in because I couldn’t progress into a larger role as charge nurse or any shared leadership positions.”
Doty knew that a degree would be her key to a brighter future. She enrolled in an online bachelor’s degree program through another institution, but the workload and time commitment were more than she had anticipated. With two young daughters to look after, she struggled to reconcile her aspirations with the realities of everyday life. In 2019, she put her education on hold.
“I didn’t want to disrupt their lives any further,” Doty said.
Then, in 2020, Doty discovered an alternative that would allow her to pursue a degree without disrupting her family’s routines.
“I’d had many coworkers who went through WGU, and when I looked into the curriculum, it seemed to fit perfectly with my lifestyle and with what I needed to achieve my goals of getting my degree,” she said.
“When I looked into the curriculum, it seemed to fit perfectly with my lifestyle and with what I needed to achieve my goals of getting my degree. – Rai Doty, WGU Graduate
One month before she started the program, Doty was paired with a mentor from WGU: a dedicated partner that she could turn to if she needed an answer to a question or just an extra dose of motivation.
“She knew what was my next step and she knew exactly what to say to motivate me,” Doty said. “It was so wonderful to have someone to talk me down and build me up.”
The key difference between WGU and Doty’s previous institution was time. With WGU’s self-paced, competency-based curriculum, Doty could breeze through content she had mastered in her 10 years of nursing while dedicating more time and energy to learning new content.
“There were classes that I opened Monday morning and finished by Wednesday afternoon,” she said. “I was able to fit the curriculum into our lives. I don’t even think my kids noticed I was in school.”
While her daughters may not have realized that their mom was attending school in the evenings, Doty hopes that her educational journey can serve as an example and inspiration for them in the future.
“Because of my WGU experience, I can tell my daughters that they are capable of doing anything. If I can work and go to school and raise two girls and still have dinner on the table at night, I think they’re capable of anything,” she said.
“Because of my WGU experience, I can tell my daughters that they are capable of doing anything.” – Rai Doty
In a time when nurses are in greater demand than ever before, WGU is proud to help students like Doty achieve the degrees they need to advance their careers and serve their communities.
“I’m proud that I finished. I am proud that I got my degree,” Doty said. “This was something that I honestly didn’t think I could do, and I was able to do it while maintaining healthy relationships with my children and my husband and my friends. And I’m proud that I can say I have my bachelor’s degree in nursing.”