“The great thing about nursing as a career is you can make it work for you and fit whatever stage of life you’re in,” says Sonni Logan, American Sentinel University MSN graduate and Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership student. Currently a system educator at University of Colorado Health, Sonni has certainly enjoyed a diverse career—working in the emergency department, intensive care unit, open-heart recovery and cardiac catheterization lab.
27 years at Northridge Hospital
A California native, after nursing school, Sonni started working at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, owned by Dignity Health, where she worked her way up to eventually become manager of the emergency department (ED), a level II trauma center. Along the way, she was also a part-time clinical educator and spent time in flight and transport nursing. While managing the ED, Sonni completed an online BSN program in 1999 at the University of Phoenix.
When a call came in 2000 from the director of the Cardiovascular Center at Northridge, who had taken notice of Sonni’s work in the emergency department, Sonni was recruited to help improve the efficiency of the cardiac area. “I love heart patients, and had been a champion for our Chest Pain Center at Northridge,” she says. “It was an exciting opportunity.” Sonni was the clinical supervisor in the Cardiovascular Center from 2000 to 2006.
A move to Colorado
After almost 28 years at Northridge—a place where she was “surrounded by people who loved patient care as much as I did”— Sonni and her husband decided to follow other family members to the Loveland, Colorado area, making the move in 2006. With college on the horizon for her three middle-schoolers and high-schooler, she wasn’t ready to retire and pursued an opportunity in the cardiac catheterization lab at University of Colorado Health’s Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies. Later, she moved into the professional development department for the UC Health system. “I started off teaching classes for nurses pursuing ACLS and PALS certification and now my job is to help facilitate the in-house and onsite education programs,” Sonni says.
Furthering her education
When a colleague at UC Health started her BSN at American Sentinel, Sonni decided that furthering her own education couldn’t hurt her long-term plans. “Everyone at American Sentinel impressed me right away,” she says. “I felt that a master’s would help me in my job at UC Health but would also lay the foundation if I ever wanted to teach online.” Sonni started the MSN nursing education specialization in 2012 and graduated in June 2014—with a plan to take a short break and return to American Sentinel for the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership.
A tragedy turned motivator
In the fall of 2014, Sonni cut her foot while hiking and wound up with an infected blood clot that quickly took a turn for the worse. Within a few weeks, she’d lost all circulation in her foot and was getting sicker by the day. Surgeons had to amputate Sonni’s leg from the shin down, and she spent a month in recovery, getting out of the hospital just a few days before Christmas.
To the surprise of many, Sonni returned to work after the holidays in early 2015. “I’ve always believed when I’ve gone through something hard that there’s something more for me to accomplish,” she says. “I’d been in nursing for 34 years when this happened, and I could’ve retired, but that’s just not me. I love nursing. I love what I do. I knew I wasn’t done.”
Back for a DNP
With her children grown, Sonni decided to go after the DNP as she’d intended to do. She started the program in April 2016. “I’ve learned so much already, and I’m so excited to be taking what I’m learning and applying that knowledge to my organization,” she says. When she retires in 10 years, Sonni plans to teach part time. “I could see myself publishing and teaching and passing on what I’ve learned.” Recently, Sonni has started teaching Certification in Emergency Nursing courses that help prepare ED nurses for their certification exam.
Today, Sonni is excited about what the future holds. She is back to being active—she got a bionic leg shortly after starting her DNP—and is working hard at her job and on her DNP. “I know that having the DNP will allow me to do what I want to,” she says. “It’s exciting to know that one day, I’ll be able to teach tomorrow’s nurses as I ease into retirement. Nursing has offered me a fulfilling career and the ability to help people. I am excited to also help the next generation of nurses.”
Inspired by Sonni’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. 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.