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CU College of Nursing student Erica Messinger

A Back-to-School Surprise

Practicing Nurse Learns More From RN to BS in Nursing Program

Written by Molly Smerika on November 29, 2023

A public health nurse. A substitute school nurse. A nursing tutor for Pueblo Community College and the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence. A hospice spiritual care counselor. A community health case manager. A home health nurse. A perioperative nurse.

Those are some of the jobs Erica Messinger has held in her 11-year nursing career while living in Montezuma County in southwestern Colorado.

Messinger, who already earned her RN from Pueblo Community College, will graduate in December from the University of Colorado College of Nursing with her BS in Nursing. She is in the RN to BS Nursing Pathway.

“I was accepted into a few other nursing programs, but CU Nursing has the best reputation,” Messinger says. “I was ready for a higher level of learning, and I’ve been really impressed with the CU program. I’ve learned so much.”

Messinger wanted to earn her BSN because she is interested in psychedelic-assisted therapy, which uses psychedelic medicine for mental health. She says the industry is still new, and healthcare professionals are trying to understand the science behind psychedelic-assisted therapy. Messinger says new research is emerging weekly.

“I’m going to be doing mental health therapy, so I feel I needed to either become a licensed counselor or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner to provide the best possible care for my clients, so I needed to finish my BSN to advance my career,” she says.

Impressed with CU Nursing’s Faculty

CU Nursing’s RN to BS in Nursing Pathway is an online program. The program's flexibility is something Messinger has enjoyed.


Erica Messinger and her family

“I prefer to work independently so this format works really well for me,” she says. “When I do have questions, my professors are always willing to set up a Zoom meeting or will send me a detailed email. I’m just so impressed with how involved they are. Any time I have issues they’re always accessible.”

Messinger also credits her professors for having a deep level of nursing knowledge, ranging from academics to nursing practice.

“They’ve been selected as faculty because of their extensive and well-rounded experience in nursing,” she says. “Learning from nurses who have excelled in our field has really improved my learning experience. It’s not just about papers getting done, it’s about real experiential learning.”

Messinger says she was skeptical about taking a community health class taught by Senior Instructor of Clinical Teaching Pamela Prag, CNM, MS, MPH. Messenger was already a community health nurse and wanted to test out of the class but couldn’t.

“I actually learned so much from Pam’s class,” Messinger admits. “I’m a nurse with many years of experience, and the fact that I can go into a bachelor’s degree program and extract so much knowledge and wisdom from these instructors on things I haven’t touched on yet is so valuable to me.”

Committed to Rural Health

Messinger's clinical work at the Montezuma County of Public Health opened her eyes to the world of nursing and healthcare. She does contract work for the county as a COVID-19 nurse and says having an opportunity to do a clinical there was valuable for her education.

“CU Nursing made it possible for me not only to get my degree but to bring this education from one of the top 25 nursing schools in the country back to my community. Thank you, CU!” – Erica Messinger, CU Nursing BS in Nursing student

“I’ve learned so much more about our community resources, and that’s after years of working in community health in Montezuma County,” she says. “That alone will make me a better nurse in this community. It was a great experience.”

She eventually wants to earn her PhD or DNP and plans on staying in southwest Colorado.

“I’m committed to rural health,” Messinger says. “Because I live in a rural area, I could only complete an RN-BSN program remotely. I have a deep appreciation for the commitment CU Anschutz made to accessibility for rural nurses to receive high-quality training. CU Nursing made it possible for me not only to get my degree but to bring this education from one of the top 25 nursing schools in the country back to my community. Thank you, CU! And now, I’m looking forward to the break after I graduate to spend time with my amazing kids before I start the next leg of my academic journey.”

Topics: Students, Graduation