American Sentinel University MSN graduate shares how earning an advanced nursing degree has helped her climb the health care career ladder.
“American Sentinel University made it possible for me to land the best job I’ve ever had,” says Soraya Sulaiman, director of nursing outpatient services at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, New York.
The New York City native began her career as a Licensed Practical Nurse and later earned a bachelor’s in biology from Excelsior College with the intent of going to medical school. However, Soraya soon discovered cytology—the study of cell structure—and worked as a cytologist for a medical center and a laboratory for several years. In 2005 she decided to return to nursing and earned a BSN at Pace University. “I missed the patient interaction more than anything,” she says.
Timing has always been on Soraya’s side throughout her nursing career. Armed with her BSN in 2006, she was rehired by the very hospital where she had worked as an LPN, Northern Westchester Hospital. There, she worked in the intensive care unit and as a surgical step down nurse for eight years. She also worked in the cardio-thoracic intensive care unit at Weill Cornell Medical Center and at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
In the back of her mind, Soraya was interested in moving into nursing education. “I want to help new nurses enter the field and help them make that transition,” says Soraya. She started a master’s program at her alma mater, Pace University, but the rigid structure didn’t fit her busy schedule. “I needed a school that genuinely understood that I was a full-time professional and a part-time student. That flexibility was important.”
Discovering American Sentinel
In 2010, Soraya began an in-depth search for an online MSN program. “American Sentinel gave me a great feeling from the beginning,” Soraya says. “The admissions staff and everyone I talked to from day one were so friendly and encouraging. It made the decision easy.”
Soraya began her MSN, nursing education specialization, in 2011. “The professors were great,” she says. They added dimension to the discussion questions and enriched my experience.” Soraya even moved into clinical education and joined Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca as a staff developer in 2012. With dedication and hard work, Soraya graduated with her MSN in March 2013.
Although Soraya went into graduate school thinking she would become a nurse educator, her education made her realize that her passion was in medical/surgical. “I decided that I wanted to move into management,” says Soraya. Through her professional network, Soraya learned of an open position at Orange Regional Medical Center as the medical surgical nursing unit director. She interviewed and was hired around the same time that she graduated. [programpush poi=”RNMSN”]
Within a few months, an even better opportunity arose—and Soraya became the director of nursing outpatient services in December 2013. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I was approached and encouraged to apply for the role,” she says. “It’s been an exciting year.”
Her Dream Job
Soraya’s new job is more than she dreamed was possible—and her education and experience have prepared her well. Once she gains the leadership experience, she’s considering returning to American Sentinel for the Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership one day. “It’s hard for me to believe where I am sometimes,” says Soraya, a first-generation American and the only woman in her family to have earned a college degree. “If I hadn’t completed my MSN, I wouldn’t be in this position. Everything about American Sentinel has been a great fit.”
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