Florida Nursing Student Uses MSN Training to Create Veteran’s Patient Education Programs

– Nursing Education Specialization Helps Nurses Take Their Clinical Knowledge into the Classroom as Nurse Educators –

AURORA, Colo. – February 6, 2014 – Nurses should have the goal of completing their baccalaureate degree to become the best nurse possible and to support the health of our nation. That’s why experienced nurse Becky Shelley chose an online nursing degree program to advance her education and use her clinical knowledge as a nurse educator.

“A great majority of nurse educators are approaching retirement and there are not enough educators coming up in the ranks to meet the vacancies this creates,” says Karla Larson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, professor of nursing at American Sentinel University. “Online programs like a MSN specialization in nursing education can help future nursing educators, like Becky Shelley, use their clinical knowledge to teach students, while having the ability to validate learning based on outcomes.”

Shelley first joined a community mental health agency in southern Illinois as a coordinator of the organization’s teen parenting program. Shortly after earning her RN license and certification in psychiatric and mental health nursing she served as a psychiatric nurse coordinator, overseeing psychiatric nursing services for a three-county area.

Nurse’s Journey to Further Education

After moving to Florida she continued her psychiatric nursing career at a community health organization and later at a local Veterans Affairs Clinic, where she currently works. She jumped at the opportunity to work in the center’s brand new patient education program and knew it was time to go back to school.

“My nurse manager wanted me to consider getting my degree and I was excited,” says Shelley, whose background in mental health made her a great fit for the new role. “I’d been thinking about getting my degree for a long time, but I wasn’t familiar with the advantages of a bridge program where I could gain an advanced degree as an RN until my nursing leader turned me onto RN to MSN programs.”

Armed with a list of must-haves, she identified American Sentinel University as her top choice for an RN to MSN bridge program. Shelley received the Veterans Affairs’ National Nursing Education Initiative Scholarship and started school in fall 2010, pursuing the MSN with a nursing education specialization.

“Our MSN educational specialization is geared to help nurse educators understand teaching and learning principles in order to achieve best outcomes for learning, which include patient outcomes in a clinical practice setting or student outcomes if they practice in an educational or nursing education setting,” says Dr. Larson.

Helping Patients Lead Healthy Lives

At the same time Shelley began her course work at American Sentinel, she helped start the Daytona Beach Veterans Affairs Patient Education Program, as well as the MOVE! national weight management program for veterans. Since then, the program has received national recognition from other Veterans Affairs centers.

“I have put so much of what I’m learning in my MSN program into my work,” she says. “The upfront modalities and assessments of learning objectives and patients’ needs have a lot to do with our program’s success. I consider that kudos to American Sentinel’s program and what it taught me.”

Shelley’s student success advisor credits her proactive nature as the driving force behind her achievements.

“Becky took ownership of her education in a passionate and genuine way, which is critical for student learning. She showed that persistence and a good attitude are keys to success,” says Julie Alexander, project lead, student success advisor at American Sentinel University. “I was continually impressed with how eloquently Becky applied her academic experience to her own professional life.”

Dr. Larson says that the MSN, nursing education specialization degree helps nurses transfer knowledge in a way which the learner can understand and assimilate information. In Shelley’s case, she immediately applied her course work to establish important veteran’s programs.

Shelley completed her MSN, nursing education specialization in October 2013 and says that her journey was “top notch,” giving her the knowledge she needed to become a better educator, nurse and person.

“My experience at American Sentinel has been absolutely great,” she says. “My professors made learning enjoyable, admissions was accommodating and genuine and my student success advisor went way above and beyond to make my experience as great as it could be. She played an instrumental role in my success.”

Future Nurse Educator

Fueled by the success of her work building the Daytona Beach Veterans Affair’s patient education programs, Shelley says that one day she envisions herself teaching as an adjunct at the local community college.

“I know my degree will bloom into more opportunity,” she says. “I recommend the MSN, nursing education program to anyone who seeks to understand teaching from a learner standpoint. I know now how to design classes that are successful at getting students excited and engaged. As a teacher, I want be able to work with students and know that learning has transpired.”

Experienced nurses who wish to pursue educator roles within a clinical environment or become faculty members at traditional or non-traditional nursing schools nursing can learn more about American Sentinel University’s MSN, nursing education specialization.

About American Sentinel University

American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited online nursing degree programs in nursing, informatics, MBA Health Care, DNP Executive Leadership and DNP Educational Leadership. Its affordable, flexible bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). The Accrediting Commission of DETC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.