Equipped with BSN, Open Heart Nurse Takes Career to New Heights in Nashville

Equipped with BSN, Open Heart Nurse Takes Career to New Heights in Nashville

Education has always been highly regarded in Rachelle Dizon’s family and culture. A native of the Philippines, Rachelle moved to the United States at age 19 and enrolled in an associate nursing program at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, California. From the start, she had a clear goal in mind. “I was always interested in helping people and nursing was something I thought about forever,” she says. While in school, Rachelle worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

Finding her way while supporting her family

In 1996, Rachelle was hired to work in the oncology area at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach as a medical-surgical nurse. Three years later, she joined the University of Southern California, completing an operating room training program to learn various specialties, including lung, liver and kidney transplants.

At the same time, she continued to work per diem at other hospitals throughout Orange County and Los Angeles County, sending money to her sister back home in the Philippines so she could attend college. When the opportunity to specialize in the cardiovascular operating room (CVOR) at Kaweah Delta Health Care arose in 2014, Rachelle jumped at it. “I feel like open heart is what I am meant to do,” says Rachelle, whose own father died from a heart attack at the age of 37.

Pursuing a dream

In 2013, Rachelle decided it was time for further education. On the recommendation of several coworkers, she looked at American Sentinel’s BSN program. “In my culture, you’re taught that education is one of those things that nobody can ever take away from you,” Rachelle says. “My motivations were totally personal. I wanted to set an example for my kids and achieve a goal.”

Rachelle worked extra hard, sometimes taking two classes at a time, and completed the BSN in less than one year. She graduated summa cum laude in 2014 and was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She even made the trip to Denver to attend commencement in June 2014. “I felt like I owed it to myself and my patients to go and accept this honor in person,” she says.

A new opportunity and a cross-country move

After nearly two decades in California, Rachelle and her husband decided once she graduated from American Sentinel that it was time for a life change. They scoured the country for the right fit and found themselves interested in Nashville, Tennessee. With her BSN in hand, Rachelle landed a job as an open heart nurse in the CVOR at TriStar Centennial Medical Center. She started in March 2015.

As she eases into her relatively new career in open heart surgery, Rachelle says she is grateful for her education. “Here in Tennessee, I’m seeing that the BSN is an entry-level requirement for nurses and I’m glad that I did this,” she says. For colleagues considering college, she says her advice is always the same: go for it. “It is well worth it, and I really liked the class format, the instructors and the curriculum. And at American Sentinel, you get so much support and encouragement from the amazing student success advisors to help you reach your goals. It is a program perfectly designed for working professionals.”


Inspired by Rachelle’s story? A BSN is ideal for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base, become more marketable and enjoy greater career stability and mobility. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and when you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.

American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees,  including an RN to BSN program and advanced degree programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case management, infection control, and executive leadership.


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