Tiffany James had a great career going when she decided to pursue her MSN at American Sentinel University
The Florida native graduated from Florida A&M University with a BSN in 1998 and started out as a patient care technician on the surgical/neurological floor of Tallahassee Community Hospital. She soon got a job in medical/surgical nursing at Indian River Medical Center, where she had numerous opportunities. Tiffany worked in infectious diseases/diabetes and later, human resources as a workforce development/training education specialist for the nursing department. “I always loved patient care, but I developed a love for educating patients and staff as well,” Tiffany says.
Nudged toward further education
In 2013, Tiffany was encouraged by her bosses to pursue additional education and started courses toward becoming a Nurse Practitioner at a college near her. “There were no fireworks, though,” she admits. “It had long been a personal goal of mine to go for an MSN and I’d heard about American Sentinel.” Tiffany even approached the VP of human resources, chief human resources officer and chief nursing officer at her hospital about partnering with American Sentinel, and before long, she was enrolled as a student. After starting down the path of the Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership specialization, she switched gears to Nursing Education. “It clicked immediately and I knew this was the path I was meant to take.”
Unexpected life change
In 2014, Tiffany’s husband had a great job opportunity in Savannah, Georgia, so the couple packed up their life and started a new adventure. Tiffany got a job right away at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital, a premier health provider in the region. She started out in the Progressive Care Unit, working with cardiac patients. “I enjoyed it a lot, but decided after about six months to stop working and fully focus on my studies,” says Tiffany, who had just a few classes left to graduate.
Tiffany threw herself into school. “I was so impressed with the program, and felt I got an excellent education,” she says. “I always had someone to turn to, whether my student success advisor or a professor. I recommended the program to several coworkers, too.” In April 2015, Tiffany finished the MSN. She did so well she was invited to join Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society (STTI) and Golden Key Honor Society.
Back to St. Joseph’s/Candler – and a new opportunity
Tiffany was eager to return to work—and she came upon an educational specialist position back at St. Joseph’s /Candler. To her delight, she got the job and started just before walking in her American Sentinel commencement ceremony in June 2015. Tiffany’s role is to assess, plan, design and coordinate the health education and training programs at the hospital for physicians, nurses and all other employees. “I love the educational aspect of nursing so much,” Tiffany says. “Even though I am not at the bedside anymore, I am happy knowing that the work I do has a direct impact on patient care. The American Sentinel program stressed the need for critical thinking in education, and that’s exactly what I’m doing in this role.”
A future in education
As Tiffany settles into her new position, she is realizing more and more how much education suits her. One day, she hopes to work in clinical education and long term, she dreams of earning a doctorate and becoming a dean of a nursing school or hospital administrator.
“I have had some great mentors throughout my career and at American Sentinel who have taught me to follow my heart, and that’s led me where I am,” she says, naming Dr. Karla Larson and Julie Alexander at American Sentinel as especially influential. “Now that I’ve gotten here, I couldn’t be happier. It’s exciting to think about what the future holds.”
Inspired by Tiffany’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, 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.
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.