MSN graduate Tracy Sansossio’s road to becoming a nurse has not been without its challenges. At the age of 43—after a 24-year career in medical office administration—Tracy enrolled in nursing school at Weyers Cave, Va.- based Blue Ridge Community College and received her associate degree in 2003.
“The degree was hard earned,” says Tracy, who had thought of becoming a nurse since she was 19 years old. “No other achievement will ever match the pride I felt when I accepted that degree.”
Tracy began her nursing career in a multidisciplinary medical/surgical/oncology/pediatric area of a medical center in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where she has lived all her life. She worked her way up into case management, but from the time she started nursing school, she had a dream of becoming a nursing educator. She went on to earn a BSN in 2007 from Old Dominion University and set the goal to get an MSN by age 52.
Finding American Sentinel University
In 2010, Tracy enrolled at American Sentinel University. She appreciated its flexible, online learning format, eight-week classes and superior student support.
“My student success advisor, Devon, was great,” Tracy says. “She was a tremendous asset to me as I worked through the program and helped me solve any problems quickly and efficiently.” While the course work was challenging, Tracy says her professors pushed her along. “They were dedicated to helping me navigate a successful journey.”
Around the same time Tracy started school she landed a position as a clinical educator within her hospital system—and also began teaching part-time at two nearby community colleges. At American Sentinel, she initially gravitated toward the nursing education specialization, but ultimately decided to try something new.
“As a nurse, I’ve always been a champion for infection control and patient safety,” says Tracy. “I decided on infection prevention and control for my specialization and I’m so glad that I did. I realize more than ever that my role is to heighten the practice of nursing by ensuring quality care in all aspects of the field.”
Finding New Ways to Heal Patients
A goal-oriented person, Tracy spent the final few months of her MSN program developing a personal and professional 10-year plan. After an experience with a patient, she decided that part of that plan would be to learn to play an instrument—so that she could bring comfort to as many patients in the hospital as possible. She is taking harp lessons and hopes one day to play throughout the acute care area to soothe patients’ pain and suffering.
“I am hoping to one day give back in a different way to the profession that has given so much to me,” says Tracy.
The Role for Her
Tracy graduated with her MSN, infection prevention and control specialization, in December 2012—just two months before her 53rd birthday. Even while working and teaching, she maintained a 4.0 GPA. Unsurprisingly, she has a long list of goals to work toward—including earning a Certification in Infection Control (CIC) and becoming a Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS)—and in May 2013, she achieved the goal at the very top of her list. Tracy accepted a position within her current hospital to become an infection preventionist.
Of course, educating others, Tracy says, will always be a part of her life and she will continue to teach nursing students part time to satisfy her dedication to lifelong learning.
“I recognized the desire to educate long ago during my associate degree program,” says Tracy. “Now, here I am: an educator and infection preventionist. My role in life is to guide.”