As a student in Alverno’s RN to BSN program, Rita Butscher has found the perfect balance of academic growth, positive support and life balance.

Rita received her associate degree in nursing in 1991, and has been a practicing nurse ever since. When she decided it was time to take the next step in her nursing career by earning her bachelor’s degree, she was faced with a world of options. However, it didn’t take her long to discover that Alverno had everything she was looking for.

In Alverno’s 18-month RN to BSN program, associate degree-prepared nurses build on their past experience to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The program uses a cohort model, which means the same group of students study and learn together from start to finish. For Rita, this meant building a support network with her fellow classmates. “A family formed very quickly as we started the program, and we’re all drawn together by a common goal of making a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Rita’s classmates come from diverse backgrounds, including specialties in intensive care, inpatient, surgical, hospice, military, prison nursing, community care and home care. “Absorbing the knowledge my classmates bring to the table makes me part of something bigger,” Rita explains. “I’m able to continually broaden my perspective for how I’ll practice in the future.”

In classes, Rita finds that learning comes alive. “When we have group discussions and presentations, we bring our own ideas and creativity into the material we’ve learned.” She adds, “Sharing with each other builds leadership skills that we can put forth in our places of work and in the real world.” Rita also loves the personalized approach to learning at Alverno. “I’m amazed by the access I have to my instructors, and the fact that they know me as an individual. Having that kind of support is a great thing when you’ve been out of school for almost 30 years!”

For Rita, and many other students, creating a balanced life can be a big challenge. Rita comes from a large family where something is always going on, and she also stays active through involvement with her church. Alverno’s program was designed with this challenge in mind, so in-person classes are held one night a week with additional learning and discussion happening online. Rita says, “I love the hybrid format because it brings together the best of both worlds. Face-to-face interaction builds crucial personal connections, but the flexibility of the online learning is just wonderful.” Even with her busy schedule, Rita finds she’s able to balance work, family and church, and still stay on top of her school work.

Doors have opened for Rita since starting her education at Alverno. After she earns her bachelor’s degree, she may go on to pursue a master’s degree, pursue teaching or expand her work to include more community-based care. “I’m not sure how to follow this tug on my heart to serve others, but my work in this program has opened doors to pathways that I honestly never even considered. It’s a growth experience in every sense of the phrase.”

Right now, Rita enjoys applying her new knowledge and perspectives in her role as a day surgery nurse at Aurora West Allis Medical Center. “As soon as I learn something new in class, I’m putting it into practice at my workplace. The connection between learning and doing is so strong.”

When she graduates from the program, Rita will be in the perfect position to seize whatever opportunity lies ahead. But through it all, she stays true to the core of her calling: “To be a nurse is an act of compassion and sincerity from the heart. I’m gaining an even greater appreciation for that as I move my nursing career forward at Alverno.”