As a freshman at the University of Northern Iowa, Emily Kuper started out thinking she wanted to major in physical therapy but quickly realized that nursing was her calling. Given she was originally from Osage, Iowa, she decided it made sense to move back home and work on her Associate’s Degree in Nursing at North Iowa Area Community College.
“I chose NIACC first over other nursing schools because it was very affordable. I knew the University of Iowa had an office on the NIACC campus, so I could easily continue on to obtain my BSN from Iowa without leaving my home, fiancé, and job,” says Kuper. “Even better, I could take many of the required prerequisite courses for the RN-BSN program at NIACC during summer breaks.” Kuper completed her ADN in 2010 from NIACC and her BSN in 2012 from the University of Iowa.
What Kuper loved most about the program was the convenience. She was able to stay in the same area while earning her BSN. Best of all, the online degree program made it possible for her to continue working while attending classes. “I chose the two-year track (part-time student) for the BSN program, which allowed me to earn my BSN in five years with two years’ full-time nursing experience under my belt. As any nurse knows, work experience is key,” she says.“NIACC and the University of Iowa have scholarships, so with the help of those scholarships and being able to work full time while in the RN-BSN program, I was able to come out with minimal debt and a great college education.”
Kuper found her practicum experiences the most interesting and rewarding. It was actually during her public health practicum that she discovered her love of school nursing. “While the program is online, there were many hands-on experiences built in,” Kuper says.
A typical workday for Kuper as a PK-12 nurse at St. Ansgar Community Schools includes giving medications and working with students who have chronic illnesses like diabetes. Another part of the job is identifying insurance resources for students’ families and maintaining state-required immunization records.The pace is fast, and there is always a new challenge.
Given her love for learning, Kuper also is an adjunct instructor at NIACC, teaching a course on medical terminology. Now she tells her students at NIACC,“Having a bachelor’s degree opens a lot of doors in nursing. You can broaden your knowledge base while exploring the different facets of nursing. Considering the financial benefits and work experience you can gain while completing your degree online at Iowa, it’s a no-brainer.”