When Kim Conway was in eighth grade, her grandfather had to have open heart surgery. Through the family illness, Kim discovered a love for the world of healthcare. “I saw him being taken care of by the nurses at the University Hospitals of Cleveland, and I knew immediately that nursing was what I wanted to do,” says Kim, a native of Northern Ohio. After high school, Kim entered a nursing diploma program and started working at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the largest, most respected hospitals in the country.
A career in colorectal surgery
For several years, Kim worked in the colorectal surgery inpatient unit before moving into the ambulatory department for colorectal surgery which she called home for a decade. “I loved our department,” Kim says. “We were doing cutting-edge procedures and the work was exciting.” When Cleveland Clinic expanded into family health centers, Kim had the opportunity to become an ambulatory team lead for three regional family health centers. She stayed in the role from 1997 to 2005.
A new job, a new adventure
In 2005, a physician from the colorectal surgery unit called Kim up to recruit her for the nurse manager position at Cleveland Clinic’s new Digestive Disease Institute. “That’s when I really began to understand the value of advanced learning,” Kim says. The hospital’s Magnet status meant that she was strongly encouraged to earn the ambulatory nursing certification—and the BSN. Kim enrolled in an online RN to BSN program at South University and graduated in 2011.
In 2012, yet another opportunity at Cleveland Clinic came Kim’s way: this time, an assistant director of care management position. The move up motivated her to continue her education. “Healthcare is changing so much, and I believed that getting an MSN would better enable me to deliver the best possible care to patients—and lead my department in a positive direction,” she says.
Starting the MSN case management
Kim researched online MSN programs and contemplated several focus areas before deciding on case management. American Sentinel University was one of a handful of universities with such a specialization that suited her needs. “I became eager to align the concepts of care management and case management that I was learning on the job with my education,” she says. “From the moment I contacted a recruiter, the entire American Sentinel team held my hand and made it easy for me to take this step.” Just six months into her new job, Kim started the MSN, case management specialization.
Onward and upward
The past year has been an exciting one for Kim as she has made strides in her new career. She earned the Certified Case Manager (CCM) credential in December 2014 and graduates from American Sentinel in May 2015. “I found the MSN program to be the reason I was able to pass the CCM exam,” she says. “It helped me gain the knowledge and application I needed.”
As she moves forward, Kim says her goal is to use the outcomes and models of nursing she studied in her MSN to better her organization. Hopefully one day, she adds, she’ll have the opportunity to become a director. “I love this setting, and I want to help Cleveland Clinic embrace best practices for healthcare.”
Inspired by Kim’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like case management, informatics, or infection control. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees, including an RN to BSN program and advanced degree programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case management, infection control, and executive leadership.