Two Local Nurses Graduate with Bachelor of Science Degrees

Two local nurses say their nights and weekends have been consumed for the past two years as they have worked to accomplish a long-anticipated goal.

Michel Carden, RN, and Bertha Higbee, RN, graduated in December 2016 with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees—while working full time at Humboldt General Hospital.

“For me, it was actually a huge accomplishment,” said Higbee, who is the only one of her siblings to graduate from college. “My parents are super proud.”

Carden said graduation for her was also important in terms of setting an example for the next generation. “It’s good to show your kids you can do it.”

The two registered nurses had already achieved their ADN, or Associate of Science in Nursing degrees, but said support from nursing leadership as well as tuition reimbursement from the hospital made it possible to take that next step.

HGH Chief Nursing Officer Darlene Bryan said across the country, hospitals are seeking a higher level of education from their nurses; Humboldt General is encouraging that as well.

Bryan said hospital staffs with a higher proportion of BSN- or MSN-prepared nurses demonstrate increased productivity and better patient outcomes.

“A nurse with a BSN may do the same things as an RN,” said Bryan, “but their opportunity to influence patients, other nurses and the profession as a whole is greater.”

Carden, who currently serves as the MDS Coordinator for the Harmony Manor Skilled Nursing and Residential Care Community, said her time as a registered nurse definitely prepared her to be a better student. “I think my experience as a nurse really helped me in class,” she said. “It was the difference between learning and life experience.”

Higbee, HGH’s Inpatient Manager, said she was also struck by how much her recent experience helped her realize the potential of her position. “This has opened up my mind and shown me the importance of my role,” she said.

Both women agree that being able to put “BSN” behind their names is another reward—but only because of what it means in terms of patient care.

“You help your patients by learning,” said Higbee. Carden agreed. “I like that feeling, where you can apply what you’ve learned to what you’re doing.”

With the two new graduates, Bryan said there are more than 20 BSN graduates among approximately 60 registered nurses at HGH. By 2018, she said 60 percent of nurses will be four-year graduates.

“We realize it is a big commitment in terms of time and effort,” said Bryan, “but it’s what we want for local patient care. We want our nurses to take their skills and knowledge base to that next level.”