Alumni Accomplishments

New Nursing Career, Stat!

OU’s Accelerated Second Degree program creates speedy path to nursing career

A man leaning on a handrail.

Photo Credit: Robert Hall

A man preparing an IV.

Photo Credit: Robert Hall

icon of a calendarAugust 25, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Patrick Dunn and Patti Georgevich

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After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, Charlie Hunter says he felt stuck in his job as a substitute science teacher. But he found a surprisingly expedient way to switch his career with Oakland University’s Accelerated Second Degree (ASD) in Nursing program.

Hunter, 24, says he’d considered a nursing career before, but was “definitely inspired” to seriously pursue the idea when he learned about OU’s ASD program. Offered at the OU Anton/Frankel Center in Mount Clemens, Oakland’s ASD program is an intensive, 16-month program allowing those who already have a bachelor’s degree — in any field, program or discipline — to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

“I didn’t think that [a nursing degree] was something that would be obtainable — or it would take at least another four years,” Hunter says. “When I heard it was a 16-month program, I was like, ‘This is something within my reach.’”

The ASD program opens a variety of career opportunities for graduates at a crucial moment in the nursing field. The World Health Organization has designated 2020 “The Year of the Nurse” — not only to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, but also to note nurses’ growing importance in the medical field. Nurses make up nearly half the world’s healthcare workforce, but it’s anticipated there’ll be a worldwide shortage of more than 7 million nurses by 2030.

Joanna Hernandez, DNP, RN, AGACNP-BC, SON ’12, assistant professor in OU’s School of Nursing, says she’s seen ASD graduates go on to work as nurses in intensive care units (ICU), emergency rooms and medical-surgical floors throughout metro Detroit and from Traverse City to California.

“ASD graduates can really go everywhere,” Dr. Hernandez says. “They do not have any difficulty finding jobs with their BSN degree.”

The ASD program focuses heavily on a practical, hands-on approach to learning, including a range of clinical experiences in diverse settings throughout metro Detroit. Hunter says he underwent a seven-week “boot camp” at the start of the program and then immediately began applying that learning in clinical situations.

“From day one in the ASD program, you’re learning the essential skills,” he says.

Hunter speaks highly of the ASD faculty, particularly Dr. Hernandez, who gave him confidence even when he felt “a little bit confused” at the beginning of the program.

Dr. Hernandez says many ASD program students are working professionals who enter the program with a variety of experiences. She says that existing real-world experience makes them better students — and, better future nurses.

“I think their work experiences really add to the collective learning and the discussions we have in class,” Dr. Hernandez says. “I give them a lot of credit for doing this program. Many students have families and jobs and work hard to be successful.”

After passing his state boards, Hunter is working as an ICU nurse at Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi. Although he once thought he “would have steered away from” working in an ICU, his experience after being placed in that setting for his ICU preceptorships changed his mind.

“It’s beautiful and the work environment is amazing, and the people are great and ... the challenge of it is so, so, so interesting,” he says. “I’m loving every moment of it.”

Hunter provides effective care for his ICU patients by: monitoring and observing (intensive) physical vital signs; checking devices for breathing, circulating blood, administering exact doses of medication, regulating body temperature and more; communicating with providers for patient status and recommending new orders to stabilize the patient and avoid a critical event; administering medications and providing empathetic support to the families — all to improve outcomes.

The perpetual learner continues to add certifications to his nursing credentials. And, he says he’s open to a variety of future career possibilities — ranging from staying in the ICU to pursuing a nurse practitioner degree to pursuing a doctorate and teaching. “The world’s my oyster,” he says.

And, to those considering OU’s ASD program, his advice is simple: “Do it.”

He adds, “In a little over a year, you’ll have a career that’ll be stable for the rest of your life. You get to do something that’s new and changing every single day. It’s an exciting field and I’m very, very happy I made the shift.”

Learn more about OU’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programs offered at our locations in Clinton Township and Mount Clemens at OU Macomb.

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