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When you want it all, online is the way to go for RN to BSN

June 3, 2017

Randy T. McGonigal, Sr. is a staff nurse at Riddle Memorial Hospital and a member of the class of 2017. A patient care and monitor technician for 14 years, he finished an ADN at Delaware County Community College (DCCC) then attended Drexel for his BSN. McGonigal became interested in cardiology, electrophysiology, and critical care nursing, however, his current specialty is orthopedics with a focus on spines and telemetry nursing. The program at Drexel Online enabled him to take one online class at a time while simultaneously completing nursing courses and clinicals through DCCC. He’ll return to Drexel in September to begin the master’s program in nursing education.

This father of four kids (with a fifth is due in June) loves playing guitar, singing, and writing songs and has recently stepped back on to the stage to perform at various pubs and coffeehouses. As if that’s not enough to keep this alumnus busy, he will begin volunteering at Community Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM) in West Chester this summer.

He shared some thoughts about his experience in the Drexel Online nursing program.
Why did you choose Drexel University?
In a lot of ways I feel like Drexel chose me as much as I chose Drexel. I’ve always known Drexel to be an excellent school with a great reputation, and have had nothing but positive experiences with Drexel alumni that I have worked with in the hospital setting as a nursing assistant. What has always stuck out to me is the passion, kindness, enthusiasm, and encouragement that Drexel graduates in general seem to display. I had long wanted to be a nurse, but had a very hard time financing my education while supporting my family. Many of my coworkers were continuously encouraging me to keep trying and stay the course, and a lot of these cheerleaders were Drexel grads. By Drexel then deciding to embark on this new and in many ways revolutionary curriculum design coupled with the savings extended to our program, they, as an institution, demonstrated that same kind of encouragement and support that I had felt from their alumni. Drexel met me where I was and continued on my journey with me. Institutions generally don’t do that these days, and it was a deciding factor in choosing and staying at Drexel.
What does being a Drexel Nurse mean to you?

Being a Drexel Nurse means being the kind of nurse I have always wanted to be, and am practicing to be. It means being passionate about this profession, caring and kind to all I encounter and encouraging and supportive on all levels. It means going the extra mile every chance I can to increase comfort or decrease suffering. It means pursuing the greatest, most effective and safest manners and methods of treatments, and to advocate for those practices to be implemented based on the scientific evidence acquired. Being a Drexel Nurse means that even after I have a BSN, or MSN, or even FNP, I will continue in my pursuit of increased knowledge and skill. Being a Drexel Nurse means that I seek to embody the spirit of our profession on and off the clock and in all aspects of my life.

What was your experience in the inaugural ADN-BSN class like?
My first experience was actually during the information session presented at my DCCC Nursing Orientation. I can’t remember the names of the presenters, or what they looked like, but I know they made me feel valued and valuable. They made me feel even more excited than I already was. They actually presented me with the means to reach my goals and did so in a manner that I could take advantage of. It was clear that this was NOT just a sales pitch, but that the people putting this together genuinely cared about our success. I was not ‘just a community college student’, rather I was a student that this University wanted to come alongside and partake in this journey towards my goals.

Personally, what motivated you to get involved in the nursing field?

So many things have motivated me to become a nurse, but I also feel like I always have been a nurse inside. I have always had a natural inclination to assist and care for others and help those in need. As a small child I remember helping my grandmother with her back pain by placing two pillows beneath her legs while she laid in bed. I don’t know how I knew to do that, I had never seen it done before, but I just knew that would at least help a little. The next morning, she felt so much better and I was just delighted in being able to have made a difference. I haven’t stopped trying to make a difference, and I pray I never will. My mother has been a nurse for over 35 years, and I always admired the way she would talk about caring for her patients in the ICU. It wasn’t the glamorous sagas they play out on TV, but the way she talked about the honor and privilege of providing the most basic needs to an ill patient that always sparked something in me to be a nurse. Two days after graduating high school, I started my job as a nursing assistant with plans to finish nursing school within three years (which got interrupted too many times), and every day as I would leave the house to go to work, my mother would tell me, “Treat every patient like they were your beloved Grammy.” These words often guide me still today, and I am so grateful for being able to do so.

Anything else?
I don’t know of ANY other college or university actively working out ways to help those of us who may be coming from a different place than the average college student. A local university in Chester County told me they would not accept me into their BSN program because they only accept graduating high school seniors. I was 28 years old with a wife and four kids and seemingly out of options for getting the BSN in a timely manner, so I decided to pursue my AND at DCCC and figure out the BSN later. That’s when Drexel University stepped in in a BIG way! The support and guidance from advisors to faculty and even to administrators have been AMAZING! Weekend phone calls and e-mails when asked for, one on one time for an hour or more, career advice and mentorship — this is the kind of place where I want to learn. This is the kind of place where I want to work. This is the kind of person I am and seek to be.