Longtime Kindred Healthcare employee Michelle James decided in 2012 to bolster her resume and career opportunities with a BSN from American Sentinel University. The experience was so positive that she wound up landing a nurse manager position at Kindred—and continuing on in the MSN program.Throughout her 16-year career with Kindred Healthcare, Michelle James has learned firsthand that the company is deeply committed to helping its employees further their education.
“Kindred is a great company to work for,” says Michelle, who started as an LPN with the company in 1996 in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, and left the company for a four-year stint at a home healthcare agency in Honolulu, Hawaii. “They put patients and employees first, and they invest a lot into helping their people.”
Taking Advantage of Kindred’s Educational Benefits
When Michelle felt the time was right to pursue her BSN, unsurprisingly, her company was supportive. She learned about American Sentinel University, one of Kindred’s educational partners, and liked what she heard. “The fact that Kindred offers tuition reimbursement and American Sentinel discounts tuition for its partners made a huge difference, but I also really liked the feel of American Sentinel,” Michelle says. “The faculty members have worked extensively in healthcare and nursing, so they relate to what you do day to day. I felt that all of the professors are highly focused on developing you in your career.”
Michelle enrolled in American Sentinel’s BSN program in 2012. When she graduated in 2013, she immediately decided to continue on to earn the MSN, infection prevention and control specialization. “I wanted to get a better understanding of what we can do at my level to keep infections down in our facility,” she says.
From Running the Floor to Training Other Nurses
Michelle says that a big motivator in pursuing her degrees at American Sentinel was to arm herself with the skills and credentials to move beyond patient care. Since 2012, Michelle had worked as the education coordinator for Kindred Hospital Nashville, coordinating and teaching continuing education courses for hospital employees. “I love what I do, but I’ve run nurse floors for 20 years and I feel I have the experience to do other things,” she says. “You really need at least a BSN to have more mobility in your nursing career.”
In May 2014, the opportunity arose for a new nurse manager at Michelle’s hospital, and with her BSN completed—and her MSN underway—Michelle was an ideal candidate. “I don’t think I would have gotten the job without my education,” she says. “I’m very excited. Now, I can make a bigger difference in my organization by affecting the nursing staff, thereby affecting the quality of patient care that we provide.”
Next Stop: A Doctor of Nursing Practice
Michelle will graduate with her MSN, infection prevention and control, in 2015. “It’s been a very positive experience so far, despite the fact that I was a little nervous about going to school online,” she says. “I’ve been very pleased with the personal education provided by the professors and the quality of the education.”
So pleased, in fact, that Michelle is considering going for her Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership to help her fulfill one of her other career dreams: teaching as an adjunct professor at nearby Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. “I’m motivated to move up in my career, and luckily for me, I work for an organization that helps its people do that,” she says. “Kindred supports me in my educational and career goals.”
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