Before attending the University of South Carolina Aiken, alumna Stacy Palmieri earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. In her early 30s, however, she felt she was being called to care for others through medicine. USC Aiken's School of Nursing helped her answer that calling through its online RN to BSN program.
In May 2020, Palmieri earned her associate's degree in nursing from Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (OCTECH), and during her last semester, the faculty introduced students to bachelor's programs in the area. Palmieri opted to begin full-time work immediately, but just a few months later, she enrolled at USC Aiken.
She says, "I wanted to start working right away, but the BSN was also an opportunity I wanted to seize upon. The USC Aiken program is very attractive in that you can start any time, and it's very flexible. I was able to work four 10-hour shifts and focus on school the other days."
The School of Nursing's RN to BNS program is CCNE-accredited and allows students to earn their bachelor's degree through accelerated online courses in as little as 12 months, helping to meet the demand for advanced-degree nurses in the rapidly-growing health care field.
Palmieri began her courses at USC Aiken in October 2020 while working as an operating room nurse at East Cooper Medical Center in Mt. Pleasant. She earned her BSN just one year later. Today, Palmieri finds joy in living a life of stewardship towards others.
"My core value is service to others, and medicine is the direction I believe I was meant for," she says. "My nursing career is my driving principle. I am there to advocate and strive for the most positive outcome for my patients."
Palmieri is passionate about caring for older patients, emphasizing the increasing demand for geriatric medical care as the population of Americans age 65 and older grows. "The lifespan of our older patients is increasing and that brings a greater need for elder care," she says. "I'm drawn to these patients because they share a lot with their caregivers and have a different level of gratitude for what you are doing for them."
This fall Palmieri embarked on a new position, which she calls the pinnacle of her nursing career. She recently accepted a role in the surgical specialty clinic of the VA Hospital in Charleston. "Working with the VA has been my goal since I began my nursing career," she says. "It's a competitive market, and I can't imagine a more meaningful group to care for than our nation's veterans," she says.
As Palmieri reflects on her career thus far, she appreciates the supportive faculty she studied under at USC Aiken as well as the curriculum's emphasis on managerial and leadership skills through a senior semester nurse manager job shadow.
"USC Aiken has a wonderfully supportive faculty that understands the demands of working full time while going to school," she says. "I also appreciated that the program prepared me for what to anticipate and look for in a nurse manager, but also how to be a nurse manager."
For students considering a career in nursing, Palmieri encourages careful time management and proactive communication with professors. "An online program can be hard, and the onus is on the student to be very forthright and let professors know what your needs are," she says. "But they are always available to you and give you the tools to succeed. If you make the program a priority, it will work for you."