20 years after becoming a nurse, Brenda Van Sambeek goes from RN to BSN

Going on 20 years as a licensed registered nurse, Brenda Van Sambeek didn’t think she had much to gain from earning a BSN. Now, as a May 2021 graduate of Marian University’s 100% online RN to BSN program, she can’t help but think of the opportunities she’d be missing out on without it.

“I had every certification I could possibly get, and I never saw a reason to have it, but after my first few classes I thought – this is going to open my career to so many options,” said the Kaukauna native, who graduated high school in 1993 and earned her associate’s degree from Fox Valley Technical College shortly thereafter. “I never thought I could, or would want to, take on a lead position or be a manager, but Marian really made me believe it was possible.”

And Brenda knows a great RN to BSN program when she sees one, because she’s spent in bad ones.

Enrolling at a large Wisconsin college in 1998, and then again at the same institution in 2018, she was looking at a five year completion time of learning through reading assignments from unresponsive instructors scattered across the country.

But her colleagues and superiors at ThedaCare Physicians Cancer Center in Appleton remained insistent that, in order to achieve her goals, she needed to become a more well-rounded nurse and learn more about the business and patient satisfaction side of health care – something only achievable through earning a BSN.

“When one of my managers finally told me about the reputation of Marian’s online program, and its seven week courses and possible 12 month completion time, I had a hard time saying no,” she said. “Then to see just how responsive the professors were, and how what they taught came from personal experience, just created an amazing overall experience.”

In fact, one of Brenda’s instructors was someone who had initially hired her to work on an oncology floor early in her career.

“You could just tell how personable the professors were, and how invested they were in your learning,” she said. “I always felt I could reach out to them with any questions, and they laid out my schedule and told me how I could graduate on my desired timeline – so few schools nowadays do that.”

For now she plans on staying in patient care, she she knows as well as anyone that eventually she won’t be able to provide the patient care she once could.

“I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I’m enjoying thinking about the possibilities and having plenty of options to choose from,” she said.