Most would agree that Sharon Hannum has had an interesting career. After starting out as a staff nurse, Sharon moved to the staffing side of nursing at University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center—and saved her hospital so much money that they asked her to open up a nursing agency for them.
She later worked as a consultant to nursing homes preparing for compliance inspections and has helped develop a number of psychiatric centers and assisted living facilities. Outside of her day job, Sharon is one of her township’s supervisors, dealing with budgets, parks and recreation issues and more.
In 1996, Sharon was recruited to be the program director for Curative Health Services, a role in which she helps profit and nonprofit health care systems plan, implement and manage their wound care programs. Since then, she has become a go-to expert for hospitals seeking to establish such centers, and she’s currently the director of the wound healing and hyperbaric centers at Pennsylvania-based Bryn Mawr Hospital and Paoli Hospital.
Back to School
When Bryn Mawr applied to become a magnet hospital in 2011, Sharon was told she would need to get a bachelor’s degree. “I looked at several programs in my area, but with where I was in my career and life, I started feeling that an online school might work best for me,” says Sharon, whose colleagues recommended American Sentinel University. “What I heard most was that American Sentinel is very supportive. In addition to being affordable, I needed a school that would make going to college at my stage a little less challenging.”
Sharon enrolled at American Sentinel in October 2012 and plans to complete her BSN online degree by 2014. Even though she was at first “petrified”, Sharon says everyone at American Sentinel has helped her along. “Week to week, my student success advisor, Jennifer Chavez, has been a tremendous support,” she says. “American Sentinel is student oriented. Everything is geared to help us grow, and I’m so grateful that there’s always someone on the other end of the line if you need them.”
With a New Degree Comes New Career Goals
As Sharon makes her way through the BSN program, she says she is better able to relate to her nursing staff—and support them. Already she is considering American Sentinel’s MSN online degree, nursing informatics specialization, and plans to apply the next time a VP position opens up in her health care system. “I have the knowledge, the skills and the clinical background to be a VP of operations,” says Sharon. “An MSN will widen my knowledge and help me get to the next level.”
As one who is hard wired to work hard, Sharon says that returning to school late in her career has not been easy, but she wants to “go out on top.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever fully retire,” she says. “My motto is play hard, work hard and enjoy today. Those words have gotten me through this challenge and many others in my life.”