In every move she’s made in her career, Sherrill Dougherty has strived to better herself as a nurse and expand her skills.
“One of the things I love about nursing is that it offers you a lot of opportunity to try new things,” says Sherrill, who started her career in the surgical intensive care unit. Through the years, Sherrill tried a variety of roles: home healthcare, patient care coordination, utilization review, and case management—throughout her home state of Delaware and in Pennsylvania.
A job she loves
When Sherrill moved back to Delaware in 2005—after nearly two decades away—she got into Beebe Healthcare, the premier healthcare facility in Sussex County, which offers inpatient, outpatient, emergency and diagnostic services. Sherrill joined as a case manager and discharge planner in the emergency department. “I love this job,” she says. “It was a totally new position and really made a difference in how our physicians decided to manage patients.”
While at Beebe, Sherrill considered returning to school for the BSN. “When I started my career, I took the shortest, least expensive route to get into nursing,” Sherrill admits. “But it was a lifelong goal of mine to get a four-year degree. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I also knew that getting the BSN would be worth it.”
A Beebe co-worker was an American Sentinel BSN student and encouraged Sherrill to look into the university. Her due diligence told her that American Sentinel was a good fit—and would challenge her in ways she’d appreciate. “I love that the program helps me improve my writing ability,” she says. “I enjoy that aspect a lot.”
Quality academics, strong support
Sherrill continues to work full time while earning the BSN, and she’s now just two classes away from graduation. “I feel like I’m learning so much in every class,” she says. “I’ve been in healthcare for a long time, so it’s a nice turn of the tables to share information I’m gaining with others.” Along the way, she has especially appreciated the strong support, even saying that the idea of meeting her student success advisor, Devon Putman, keeps her going. “Devon has been awesome—resourceful, helpful and encouraging. We will graduate next year—‘we’ is what I tell everyone, because she’s been by my side through this. And American Sentinel’s professors really seem like they want you to succeed. I didn’t do this alone.”
A badge of pride
When Sherrill accepts her diploma in 2016, she will be 60 years old. Still a nurse in the case management department of Beebe Healthcare—which will celebrate its centennial in 2016—she says the skills she has gained in the BSN better equip her to make sure that all patients receive the best level of care at the hospital.
“I came to American Sentinel because I know having a BSN will keep me marketable for the rest of my career, and I don’t plan to retire anytime soon,” Sherrill says. Yet another driving force—perhaps the most important—has encouraged her to press on, no matter how difficult it might be. “I had a goal. That personal goal was the biggest reason I wanted to get my BSN.”
Inspired by Sherrill’s story? A BSN is ideal for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base, become more marketable and enjoy greater career stability and mobility. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and 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.