PDCCC nursing student in two programs at once

Published 5:56 pm Saturday, July 25, 2015

Although math and science were subjects at which Shal Biacsi excelled, she had never thought of applying that knowledge to the nursing field.

Shal Biacsi prepares a sterile dressing in the nursing lab at PDCCC.

Shal Biacsi prepares a sterile dressing in the nursing lab at PDCCC.

“I didn’t know what they actually did,” she said. “I always thought of nurses as supporting other professions, rather than existing as its own medical profession.”

Biacsi, 42, is now the first student at PDCCC to concurrently take classes toward her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at Old Dominion University while completing the associate degree in nursing at PDCCC.

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“She is a pioneer, so to speak,” said Associate Professor of Nursing Carol Wright. “She is an outstanding and highly intelligent student.”

Biacsi was enrolled in the biochemistry program at Old Dominion University. Two weeks from beginning her classes, she ran into a former colleague who was in the nursing program at Paul D. Camp Community College.

“She was telling me things about nursing that I didn’t know and I realized that the career opportunities in nursing were more plentiful in this field than in biochemistry.”

Biacsi then made another discovery after receiving further guidance from a friend who is a retired anesthesiologist.

“He told me that most anesthetists are not doctors, but nurses,” Biacsi said. “That was a turning point for me. I was hooked on becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).”

After she received approval from PDCCC’s Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Debbie Hartman to enroll in the concurrent program at ODU, she spoke with Janice Hawkins, the chief academic adviser for the Bachelor of Science in nursing program at ODU.

“I told Dean Hartman to ‘Let me be your poster child,’” she said. “I knew I could handle the course load and I’ve received tremendous support from both colleges.”

Biacsi takes six to eight credits each semester online with ODU in addition to her eight to 10 credits at PDCCC.

“At ODU, there is a once a week due date, so the structure of the program gives me flexibility to complete my assignments,” she said. “Even though my ODU classes are online, I am exposed to other concurrent students in the program and other nursing students. I feel that I’m better prepared for this with the education I’m receiving from the instructors at PDCCC.”

Biacsi earned an associate degree in business administration online at Tidewater Community College and earned an associate degree in general science from TCC.  She will not graduate from ODU until she has graduated from PDCCC and passed the NCLEX RN licensure exam. Biacsi will then be awarded 33 transfer credits toward the completion of the BSN degree.

A member of the National Student Nurses’ Association, Biacsi will graduate from PDCCC in May 2016 and ODU in August 2016. She hopes to work locally.

“I’ve been to 16 different schools in my 12 years of grade school,” she said. “I would like to stay put, and I’m making this area home.”

She encouraged others to take advantage of the concurrent program at ODU through PDCCC. “It’s only two years and it’s worth it,” she said. “Everyone in the nursing program is welcoming and helpful, but they don’t hold your hand. And they really emphasize respect for the field.”

“Who knows, maybe I’ll come back here and teach,” she said.