This is part one of a nine-part series profiling American Sentinel University’s leadership team. Check back each Monday to learn more about the strong leadership that guides American Sentinel and gather their tips for success in healthcare and in education.
Society has a way of wanting to categorize people, even in the field of nursing. However, anyone trying to put a label on Dr. Judy Burckhardt will find that task very difficult. “I’ve spent as much time on the business side of nursing as I have on the academic side, and I’ve learned that having experience in more than one area can be very good for an organization,” Burckhardt said.
Like all young women of her generation, Dr. Judy Burckhardt faced the occupational stereotypes of the day. “Teacher, nurse, or librarian. Those were the occupations that were considered appropriate for women. My mother suggested I was good at helping people so I chose nursing, even though I had always wanted to teach.”
As it turns out, Dr. Burckhardt didn’t need to choose. Within one year of finishing her BSN at Loyola University in Chicago, she was asked to teach Medical-Surgical-Nursing at a diploma school of nursing. “My first thought was ‘can I do this?’ It seemed too soon and was way outside my comfort zone. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t give in to self-doubt,” Burckhardt said.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Burckhardt encourages students to step up to challenges, even if it means stepping outside of their comfort zone. “Rely on your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Burckhardt advises.
After taking a few years off to raise two sons, she went back to work as a nurse educator at a university in St. Louis. Wanting to know more about teaching adults, she decided to get her Master of Arts in Education degree with an emphasis in Adult Education from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. A stint teaching nursing at the local community college followed. Soon thereafter, she accepted a local position with Kaplan Test Prep in St. Louis, preparing nurses for their RN licensure examination, the NCLEX-RN.
“After a while, word got around that if you took my Kaplan prep class, you’d pass your exam.” This got the attention of National Headquarters for Kaplan Test Prep in New York. “I was promoted to National Executive Director and then Vice President, and spent the next 20 years developing the nursing programs at Kaplan Test Prep and managing nursing coordinators and test prep and integrated testing programs across the country,” Burckhardt said.
“I had the unique opportunity with Kaplan Test Prep to work overseas with international nurses that wanted to become licensed as RNs in the United States. As I look back to when I was in nursing school, I had no idea where the profession of nursing would take me.”
Burckhardt left Kaplan Test Prep to become Vice President at the Kaplan University School of Nursing and after a couple of years, moved to the Kaplan Higher Education Campuses as Dean over the Nursing and Complex Medical programs.
Getting her Ph.D.
With an executive resume and a passport that included such places as Taipei, Vancouver, Copenhagen, Seoul and the Philippines, you might think that Dr. Judy Burckhardt was ready to relax. Not so. “My father had his Ph.D. and I wasn’t going to be content until I had one myself.” Dr. Burckhardt earned her Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and her father was there to see her graduate.
Full of surprises
By now, you’ve probably guessed that there’s much more to Dr. Burckhardt than meets the eye. She enjoys telling the story about workmen at her house who spied a table saw in her garage. The men asked her if they could use her husband’s table saw to which Dr. Burckardt replied: “My husband doesn’t own a table saw. But you can borrow mine.” Dr. Burckhardt confesses she might have become a carpenter if she had not found advanced education, “I love the smell of raw lumber, and building things.”
In retrospect, it’s fair to say that Dr. Burckhardt has built many things in her career. So when a headhunter contacted her and asked her to consider working with American Sentinel University, she was immensely intrigued. “I met Dr. Oliver and Mary Adams three years ago and was very impressed with what they’ve accomplished here at American Sentinel. I work with a great team at a great university.“
Dr. Judy Burckhardt has had an incredible career and continues to push forward professionally. “So much for stereotypes!” Dr. Burckhardt exclaimed.
Read the other Meet the Leaders articles to learn more about American Sentinel leadership.