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Jennifer Davis Eager to Finish What She Started in Online RN to BSN Program

Not long after the pandemic hit in 2020, Jennifer Davis started a new role at the Skokie, Illinois, Health Department.

“In July 2022, I began my role with Skokie Health Department as a public health nurse. In October 2022, I was promoted to Personal Health Supervisor,” she said. “I entered the public health world in the midst a public health emergency. It was an awesome and exhausting experience. Our priority and focus consisted of contact tracing for COVID-19, and later on, mass vaccination visits.”

“Now, we are getting back on track with opening other services that are mainstream for public health. Most standard services were closed during the three years of the pandemic. I had some extra time, but I also have a family. I realized the importance of a bachelor’s degree.”

Davis is on track to graduate from the online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) in August 2023. She started an RN to BSN program at another university before transferring.

“The support at the other school was non-existent,” she said. “The student-teacher collaboration wasn’t there. When I was looking for a new program, that element was extremely important to me.

“Even at the beginning of the process, UIC was very responsive and let me know what I needed to do about getting my transcripts. Kate Tredway, the director of the program, reached out personally. We had about an hour-long conversation. That reeled me in.”

The flexibility of the online format was vital for Davis. She has a husband, Loyce, and four children from two marriages — Kamran (19), Kassi (15), Imani (13) and Edward (9).

“My husband is also in school, going for a Doctor of Law in policy at Northeastern University,” she said. “There are nights when we are all sitting at the table doing homework.”

Sweet Home, Chicago

Davis grew up in the Windy City, where her goal during high school was to become a neurosurgeon before changing lanes.

“I realized my hands are slightly shaky when I am hungry, so I should not be working on peoples’ brains,” she said. “Then, I had my son during my senior year of high school.

“Instead of becoming a doctor, I was looking for something more manageable for my family that was still direct patient care. That led me to nursing.”

While gaining experience in the field, Davis graduated with an Associate Degree in Nursing from Oakton Community College in 2018. Before that, she completed her vocational training there.

“I have been in nursing for quite a while,” she said. “I have also dabbled in business development, caretaking and other things.”

So far, Population Focused Nursing Care is Davis’ favorite course in the online RN to BSN program curriculum at UIC.

“I am geared toward that because I am in public health,” she said. “I also greatly enjoyed Nursing Research and Statistics for Evidence Based Practice. I was anxious going into it. Statistics in any format scares me.

“By the end of the course, the project that I developed in that class made me reflect on what my capabilities were and see I could do more than I thought possible.”

Davis has been able to apply the information she is learning in the program to her nursing practice.

“I used it almost immediately,” she said. “I am in Leadership and Management in Nursing right now. The same day I started that course was the same day I started as a nurse supervisor. I got a promotion.”

The projects Davis has completed as an online student have especially come in handy in her current position.

“In Population Focused Nursing Care, we developed a community assessment survey,” she said. “It came just in time because a few weeks later, we started the IPLAN Process, an assessment for local health departments they complete every five years to create new initiatives and re-focus on current needs of the community.

“I used a lot of the data from my community assessment survey through the nursing community course with the IPLAN project.”

Second City Effort

Once she completes the online RN to BSN program, Davis plans to walk the graduation stage at the commencement ceremony.

“This is a long time coming,” she said. “I graduated from high school in 2003. My family and friends are excited and supportive of me.

“I see myself with the Skokie Health Department for at least the next 10 years. I like being in the public health world.”

Davis, who enjoys running and playing soccer in her free time, likes how UIC organizes its online nursing program to maintain student engagement.

“It is manageable,” she said. “It’s definitely a lot of work. The format is the same from class to class. They do an orientation class when you enroll to help you through Blackboard online.

“It even has an introduction module that sets students up for APA formatting they’ll use throughout the program. It gives you steps and milestones along the way that help to complete each course.”

Since enrolling in the program earlier this year, Davis found that organization is the key to success as an online student.

“You should develop a weekly calendar from the beginning of the course,” she said. “Also, have open communication with your professors.

“If you’re having a hard time meeting a deadline, all they look for is communication ahead of time versus trying to ask for forgiveness afterward. UIC prides itself on their collaborative learning and engagement rates, and my experience confirms this holds true. I am in awe with what I have gained from the online RN to BSN program at UIC. It’s been a wonderful journey so far.”

Learn more about UIC’s online RN to BSN program.

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