My colleague recently approached me with the interest of sharing a wonderful story about an admissions manager turned Nursing degree student. Her name is Whitney Tilka. She is 29 years old and is just finishing her last week as a program manager at Rasmussen College. Since May of 2010 she has served in an admissions role at the College—but her career aspirations have led her elsewhere: straight to the operating room.
Today, she is pursuing her third quarter as a nursing student, and is anticipating graduation in September 2012. Learn more about her experience here.
Q&A with Whitney Tilka
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience as a program manager?
When I first started, I worked with School of Business students and School of Technology and Design students. Shortly after working in this role, I transitioned into an inside professional education manager position. During my time managing corporate relations, I was exposed to the new RN to BSN degree program; which was a specific nursing degree that focused on the “career laddering” step in nursing.
Soon, I became the Program Manager for the RN to BSN program and slowly starting helping out with the Professional Nursing degree program as well. Working with nursing students has been truly rewarding and enjoyable. My work enrolling nursing students at that time was a big factor in my decision to pursue nursing as a career.
Was there any “Aha!” moment that you experienced when deciding that you wanted to go back to school to pursue a degree in nursing?
Ever since I completed my first degree in Business at Florida State University, I’ve always regretted not pursuing nursing at that time. Since 2003, I’ve always thought about going back to pursue my degree in nursing but was always a bit scared to make the leap. I researched nursing programs in the area hoping I could continue to work and start a program, but it didn’t seem feasible at the time.
I talked to my fiancé and he said if I truly wanted to be a nurse that he would be 100 percent supportive. That’s all I needed to hear. Next thing I knew, I was asking my local Director of Admissions how I could start my journey as a student at Rasmussen College
What exact nursing degree are you pursuing at Rasmussen?
I’m enrolled in the Associate’s degree in Professional Nursing.
What drew you to the nursing program at Rasmussen?
As an employee of Rasmussen College, I was already exposed to the fact that the school’s student services and support were heads and shoulders above other higher education institutions.
For example: during our clinical, our instructors will go with the class. I had never heard of this before. Additionally, the classes are nice and small, and there is a real sense of community. The nursing faculty is always available to answer questions and offer support and encouragement. I also love that Rasmussen has a Career Services department to help students with employment opportunities after graduation. I’m not only getting a great education, but I’m really having fun!
Did you look at any other colleges’ nursing programs?
I looked at the nursing programs at two other colleges before I ever started working at Rasmussen College, but there were things I didn’t like about each of the programs. I thought all the doors for me were closed.
What are your plans post-graduation?
There are so many options. I definitely want to work in a hospital – the faster paced the better. Of course my preferences may change after clinicals, but right now I am interested in specializing in the operating room or intensive care unit. I also feel strongly drawn to the neonatal ICU… so we’ll see what the future brings! I just love that there are so many different options available in this career track.
Whitney concluded by stating: “This is truly the best decision that I have made for myself. Anyone that is considering a career change but scared to actually do it should really consider just jumping in with both feet.” If you or one of your close friends or family members are interested in a career change or even want to start a career in nursing, please connect with us to share your story.