Ginger Lang has done a lot of things in her life—from working as a pediatric critical care nurse to serving as a captain and disaster preparedness officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserves to working as the set nurse on the hit ABC TV show, “Nashville.”
These days, Ginger is writing the next chapter of her life story—and it’s all about helping people in crisis. A Kentucky native who spent 20 years in Seattle, Ginger returned to Kentucky in 2007. Having been largely dedicated to raising her four children for more than a decade, Ginger decided that the time was right to get back to the career she loved. In 2013, she joined the American Red Cross as the state nurse lead for Kentucky. That year, she deployed to Colorado during the Boulder-area floods and to Oso, Washington, after the area’s devastating mudslides.
Ginger’s dedication to her role earned her the respect of many—and a new opportunity. She was named the Kentucky Disaster Health Services Advisor for the American Red Cross, promoting awareness of disaster healthcare issues by working with state and local health entities. In addition, Ginger serves as the subject-matter expert in healthcare-related issues following a disaster.
The timing was also right for Ginger to go back to school. An eye on humanitarian work as a career, she looked into RN to MSN programs, both in-person and online. “I realized that I have a great deal of life and professional experience but every public health job I want requires a master’s degree,” says Ginger.
A master’s program in alignment with her goals
Ginger discovered American Sentinel University’s RN to MSN, infection prevention and control specialization. “This was the only program I found that offered more of a clinical specialty,” she says. “The epidemiology focus was very applicable to what I want to do.” In fall 2013, Ginger started the MSN program. “I’m very excited about the relevance of the classes and I think it will help me secure the type of position I’m looking for.”
A heart for international humanitarian work
While she works toward her MSN, Ginger is simultaneously laying the groundwork for the future she desires. In spring 2015, Ginger went to India to work with Himalayan Health Exchange, a humanitarian organization that travels to remote villages in the Himalayas to provide healthcare services to Tibetan settlements and monastery schools. While there, the Gorkha earthquake devastated Nepal just 150 miles away. “I knew I needed to go,” says Ginger. “But I came home first to re-supply. I made a trip to REI and turned right back around to go to Nepal.”
Ginger worked with a local humanitarian aid group to deliver healthcare and emergency supplies to remote villages in the Kathmandu Valley and Ghorka regions. She and her colleagues drove for eight hours on damaged roads, rode a crowded bus for another four hours, and trekked for two days into one of the hardest hit regions to deliver medication and supplies.
“While we were in the mountains, a second earthquake hit,” she says. “We were navigating landslides and unstable terrain. There was no electricity in the region, and communication by cell phone was impossible. People were injured and in desperate need of the very basics, and I wanted to do what I could.”
Working toward her dream job
Most recently, Ginger travelled with the Red Cross to Micronesia after the August 2015 Typhoon Soudelor hit the Northern Mariana Islands’ most populated island, Saipan. In the future, she wants to work for a humanitarian organization, like Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF or Save the Children, that provides emergency medical aid to people affected by epidemics and disasters.
Ginger hopes that her MSN combined with her experience will make her a great candidate for such jobs. “I know that my background is strong and now I want the graduate-level academic credentials to match,” she says. Ginger plans to graduate from American Sentinel in summer 2016. For other students as well as her now-grown children, she hopes that she sets a great example. “I believe that whatever you want to do in life, you should really give it your all, and don’t wait for an invitation to succeed,” she says. “It’s all about opening your own doors.”
Inspired by Ginger’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, 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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.