UHCL nursing graduate credits success to easy school-life balance

May 9, 2018 | Katherine Adams

UHCL nursing student credits course flexibility for work-life balance

After working as a paramedic and firefighter, University of Houston-Clear Lake graduate Caidin Pierce decided it was time for a career change to pursue his goal of becoming a nurse.

He enrolled at Lee College and was caught in what felt like a quagmire of prerequisite courses that he had to take before getting into a nursing program. Nursing programs can be highly competitive, and each program often has different prerequisites. Traditional programs have sixty hours of prerequisite classes, like English, algebra, government and other “general education” courses. Pierce ultimately received his RN from San Jacinto College and began working full-time, but wanted an easier path to get his bachelor’s degree. He found it at UH-Clear Lake.

“I really wanted to work toward my BSN, but I didn’t want to deal with any more prerequisites. I felt like I did enough of those,” he said. “(UHCL Nursing Program Director and Assistant Professor of Nursing) Karen Alexander came from the San Jacinto program to UHCL, and I didn’t plan to come here but Dr. Alexander showed me the curriculum, assured me there would be no more time wasted doing prerequisites, and I could start right in the RN-to-BSN program at UHCL Pearland Campus.”

Alexander said one of the main advantages of UHCL’s nursing program was its seamless path from community college nursing programs to the BSN.

“We are one of the few schools to require only an associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing, and an RN license by the first day of class,” Alexander said. “There are no other prerequisites needed to gain admission to UHCL’s nursing program. The program is 30 credit hours and any other needed credits can be taken concurrently. At UHCL, the path is clear toward the BSN.”

For Pierce, getting directly into the program was the key. “The curriculum at UHCL was good and the program seemed reasonable for a working nurse,” he said. “I got started immediately in the program and I didn’t have to do any more prerequisites.”

Jumping right in was just one of many benefits Pierce discovered in UHCL’s RN-to-BSN program. “Nurses usually work 12-hour shifts,” he said. “You can go to class once or twice a week, depending on where you are in your life or with your job. You can go full-time or part-time, whatever works for you.”

He added that it was possible to change his status along the way; he could go full-time one semester, part-time the next, and back to full-time again if he wished, which gave him flexibility to lighten his course load to welcome his first child in 2016.

“This program let me decide the sequence of the courses I want to take,” he explained. “I can put off a class or take it as I see fit. Sometimes because of work or family responsibilities, I need to choose easier courses, and save the more difficult ones for when I am able. So if you need to pair a hard course with an easier course so you can keep your work-family-life balance, it’s within your autonomy to do that in this program.”

Pierce made his goal a reality when he graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in December 2017.

“The reason I was successful at UHCL was that this program offered a completely feasible way to achieve the degree in terms of work-family-life balance,” he said.

Summer courses are now available for UHCL’s RN-to-BSN program. Students interested in admissions, courses and program requirements can attend monthly info sessions at UHCL Pearland Campus. For more information, visit www.uhcl.edu/academics/degrees/rn-nursing-bsn.