Growing up, Pat Arenales was greatly influenced by her mother, a Registered Nurse. “I started out going to surgical tech school to do medical transcribing and then was encouraged by my wonderfully supportive parents to go into nursing school,” says Pat, who was born in Guatemala, grew up in California, and lived in Puerto Rico for the first 15 years of her career. She became a surgical technician in 1998 and a Registered Nurse in 2001 and started out at the Doctors Community Hospital in Santurce, Puerto Rico. For four years thereafter, she worked in an urgent care facility.
A move to Colorado
In 2004, Pat took an opportunity at Exempla Good Samaritan in Lafayette, Colorado. Soon, she got a job with Kaiser Permanente. “Surgery has always been my interest, and what I’ve done during my entire career at Kaiser,” Pat says. Her experience is broad—from orthopedic to minor plastics to cataracts. For seven of her nine years at Kaiser, Pat has worked as a charge nurse, helping schedule procedures for the operating room.
Grateful to her employer
Kaiser Permanente is a place where Pat is grateful to work—for a number of reasons. “They treat their employees very well and we have a voice on how we do things here,” she says. “Our job as a nurse is a hard one, no matter what. But when you have an organization that is truly interested in helping patients long term and making the lives of the people who work here better, you realize how lucky you are.”
That commitment to bettering its employees along with her own ambitions to strengthen her resume and skills led Pat to pursue the BSN at Kaplan University, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2012. She enjoyed the program so much that she decided to continue on for an MSN, but explored other universities. “I wanted to find a program with eight-week classes and an emphasis on informatics,” says Pat. “Technology is so important in healthcare. I’ve always enjoyed working with computers and learning about technology.” In her search, American Sentinel University’s MSN, nursing informatics specialization stood out.
Building her future
Pat started the MSN, nursing informatics specialization, in 2012. “I am getting a great education, and I know that the more effort I put in, the more I’ll benefit,” she says, adding that the caring support provided by American Sentinel’s staff has been excellent. No matter where her career goes, Pat says she is confident that the MSN will help her. “I am planning ahead, and I know that nursing informatics education combined with my background and experience will allow me to take opportunities that come my way.”
One day, Pat hopes to work as an informatics educator, training staff and nurses on Kaiser’s electronic medical records system. After 11 years in Colorado, she hopes to be able to transfer to California to be closer to her parents and son, who recently started music school there.
A light at the end of the tunnel
In a few months, Pat will finish her MSN. It’s been a long time coming, and will be a proud moment—she is the second college graduate in her immediate family of nine. Thus far, Pat has earned As in every class but one. “My goal is to keep growing and learning,” she says. “I think that’s something I’ve always had inside of me: a desire to learn more.”
Inspired by Pat’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.