Nursing ran in Heather Jones’ family but her aspiration to pursue the profession was a surprise.
“I remember sitting with my husband one night and telling him I was thinking about going back to school. I can recall pretty clearly the look on his face,” recalls Heather Jones BSN ’23. “I don’t know if he thought I was kidding, but he was definitely a little shocked.”
Her husband Steve works in public relations as Heather had. “When she first told me she wanted to seriously pursue nursing and go back to school, I was pretty surprised and I’m sure the look on my face changed even more when I thought to myself, how are we going to pay for this?,” he explains. “But after the initial surprise subsided, I was on board because she was right, she would be a really good nurse.”
Although her mom was a nurse and her dad worked in nursing finance at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Heather said that she “never mentioned to either of my parents about my interest in nursing. Unfortunately, my father passed away before I started, but I know he would be proud of me… My mom worked at our local community hospital, and I would often have people stop me to tell me what a wonderful nurse she was or how she made a difference in their healthcare experience; that always stuck with me. When I lost my dad, I remember his nurse stayed well past her shift to support my family so that we had a familiar face when we would need it the most. When I delivered our son and he had to go to the NICU, it was the nurses that helped me and my husband through that journey while also providing amazing care to our son.”
After her father passed away, Heather kept in touch with his former supervisor, the chief nursing officer at MGH who recommended an accelerated program for professionals with bachelor’s degrees who wanted to make a transition to nursing.
“It was important to me that I could use my previous bachelor’s degree to help me achieve my goal of becoming a nurse,” Heather, now a mother of two, explains. “I was also anxious to start my new career and wanted to maximize the time I spent in school. A lot of programs were 16 months long and the pace and intensity of those programs made me a little nervous because I knew I would also be juggling my family and a part-time job while going to school. The 24-month program sounded like a perfect fit for already busy schedule.”
She drew on the counsel of Jennifer Norris, RN-BC, BS, a veteran nurse and friend who wrote a reference for Heather’s application to the 24-month program at Regis.
“She would often ask me questions about nursing and what this profession entailed,” Jennifer recalls. “She has always presented as intellectually curious and openly aspires to grow and learn more. I truly believe this is an essential aspect of nursing and professionalism.”
Jennifer was one of the few people in Heather’s life who was not surprised when her friend disclosed her plan. “I have always thought that Heather would make an outstanding nurse,” she says. “It has become even more apparent as she has pursued this dream. I believe nursing will be a seamless transition and fit for her. Having supervised and been a hands-on nurse for 20+ years, any team would be lucky to have Heather working with them.”
For Heather, working in public relations at Beverly Hospital gave her further exposure to the nursing profession. “I worked very closely with the nursing and medical staff in my position, so I was exposed to the inner workings of the hospital which has benefited me greatly in nursing school because I have a base knowledge of a lot of healthcare terminology and procedures,” she recalls. “Even back then I always had this gut feeling that I should have gone into nursing.”
As for the 24-Month BSN, Heather says, “I without a doubt chose the right program for my journey into nursing. I have really enjoyed my course work as well as my clinical rotations. I am able to dedicate the time I need to be successful in my classes while also having time to tend to all the other aspects of my life.”
As she completed her clinical rotation at Metro West Hospital in Framingham, Heather had a moment that reenforced her decision. She was saying goodbye to a patient she had cared for during her shift. He asked her if he could hold her hand and thanked her for everything she had done for him. “He asked me where I was going to school and wished me luck as I pursued my new career. It was the first time a patient had taken a moment to thank me for my help. In that moment, I saw myself the way I saw all the wonderful nurses I had the pleasure of knowing in the past. I saw myself as I had always dreamed about and I knew that I had made the right decision to go back to school.”
That initial surprise she saw on the face of her husband when she told him of her decision did not tell the real story. Steve turned out to be her most steadfast supporter. “It takes a lot of courage to completely change careers at this stage of life,” he says, “but Heather has proven it can be done and pretty soon the dream that has always been at the back of her mind will become reality.”