Photo of an RN to BS nursing degree graduateEllen Beckwith, RN-BS ’19



Even after 25 years as a nurse practitioner, Ellen Beckwith still feels the urge to flip the script on occasion. The Lee, MA, local says that she was initially hesitant to pursue her bachelor of science (BS) degree, but after seeing several colleagues go through the RN-BS program at Elms, she worked up the courage to enroll herself. Ellen’s leap of faith ties back to her conviction that nursing is a profession that requires its practitioners to constantly strive for more.

“It took me 23 years to decide to go back because I didn’t really understand what the benefit would be,” she said. “For anybody who is debating going back, they really need to do it. Nursing is advancing as a profession, and we need to keep growing with it.”

Ellen explained that she chose the Elms RN-BS program not only because she is an alumna, but also because Berkshire Health Systems supports the program. As a charge nurse on the medical-surgical floor at Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, MA, Ellen found it convenient to have class once per week for six and a half hours at one of her employer’s satellite campuses.

This type of continuing education is a win-win for nurses wanting to expand their skills. “Nursing itself is changing so much — I think we all need to be responsible for ourselves, and we need to stay educated and competent and knowledgeable,” she said. “I’ve gotten so much out of the program. I now see the wider view of the nursing profession and what more is out there for us.”

The RN-BS curriculum also pushes students to reconsider foundational concepts in nursing and examine them from new perspectives. In her statistics class, Ellen said that her instructor covered how to read and interpret journal articles, an invaluable refresher for nurses of any level. Her genetics and genomics class also made an indelible impression on her.

While she is perfectly content at Fairview Hospital, Ellen appreciates the confidence that the RN-BS program has instilled in her. “The program is opening other doors, too,” she said, “so if I decide I want to go into another position or do something in leadership, I have those opportunities now.”