They say that twins have a special connection, and Vanette Jones and Gwenette (Jones) Armand are a great example.
The sisters are so close, in fact, that their lives and careers have in many ways mirrored one another. Both women, Florida natives, started their families at a young age and had three children. Both went into healthcare after high school, attending the same Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program together. And both decided to earn their BSN degrees at American Sentinel University.
“Vanette and I are very close, and we often find ourselves doing the same things without even discussing them,” says Gwenette, who spent 15 years in North Carolina but returned to her home state in 2011. Gwenette began her career as a CNA, became a Registered Nurse in 2001, and later worked in an oncology, hematology and hemodialysis medical-surgical unit. Eventually, she moved into emergency room nursing. She joined the University of Florida Health Science Center in Gainesville in 2011, where her own son had been a patient as a child. “I was so impressed with the care he received that I said that one day, I wanted to work there.”
Vanette took a similar path, working as a CNA in Vero Beach, Florida, her hometown, until 2003, when she became a Registered Nurse and earned an associate degree. Vanette has worked at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach since 2003. She worked in the medical-surgical unit and eventually made her way into diabetic nursing. Today, Vanette is an RN on the diabetic floor as well as a clinical nurse instructor, overseeing Licensed Practice Nurse students in the clinical setting.
Different reasons, same goal
Since completing her associate degree in 2001, Gwenette has thought about returning for a BSN, but life got in the way. After much encouragement from her husband to seriously consider the idea, she learned about American Sentinel’s BSN program through work colleagues—and it seemed like the stars had aligned. “Tuition was affordable and I liked the structure of the eight-week classes,” she says. Gwenette also knew that a bachelor’s degree would help her no matter what she decided to do next. She enrolled in January 2013.
For Vanette, the time was right for a BSN as well—and her employer, Indian River, happened to be an educational partner of American Sentinel. She had already started an online BSN elsewhere, in fact, but the influence of her sister and a coworker, Tiffany James, who was pursuing an MSN at American Sentinel, made her switch. “The last few years have really motivated me to finally get my BSN because I want to become a Certified Diabetes Educator,” says Vanette, a diabetic herself. “I love educating other diabetics about the disease and how to manage it.” Vanette started the BSN program in September 2013.
The strongest support system
Vanette and Gwenette worked hard for their degrees, and were each pleased with the experience. Gwenette says the support system has been essential to her success. “We both felt like we had great relationships with our professors and advisors,” she says. “I never felt alone, and the projects and discussions with other students in all different areas of nursing around the country really benefited me.”
Vanette agrees, adding that achieving such a major goal together enhanced the experience. “Knowing that we were both working toward the same thing, even if we weren’t in the same classes at the same time, was encouraging and motivating,” she says. “My sister and I are always connected, no matter what we do in life. Pursuing the BSN together was no different—we just kept pushing each other.”
Celebrating as a team
Gwenette completed the BSN in September 2014, while Vanette finished in March 2015. To celebrate, the sisters—who now live three hours apart—travelled to Denver in June 2015 to walk in American Sentinel’s graduation ceremony. Several family members made the trip as well to cheer them on from the audience. Of their seven siblings, Gwenette and Vanette are the only two to hold bachelor’s degrees. They both graduated magna cum laude.
“I’m very proud of Vanette and she’s very proud of me,” says Gwenette. “It’s been a really great experience going back to college together. I know that it will benefit us both in the short term and the long term.”
Paying immediate dividends
For Gwenette, the BSN has already paid off. After several years in the ER, she decided to move back into the area she has loved the most in her career: oncology/hematology. With all of her experience plus a BSN under her belt, she was an ideal candidate for a new job opportunity. “I’ve just started a job at an infusion center at University of Florida Health, and I’m so excited,” she says. “When I worked in the oncology unit before, we rotated through the infusion center, and I always hoped they might have a full-time opening. When this opened up, I applied and got the position. They preferred a BSN, so I’m certain my degree helped me get the job.”
Vanette says she applies her education every day to her job—and looks forward to what the future holds. “I learned so much about the healthcare landscape and rules and regulations, and a lot more,” says Vanette. As she looks ahead, Vanette knows that her education will help her achieve her goals. “I love teaching others and I am hoping to move into the classroom full time at some point. I’m very happy that I’ve gotten my degree so I can make that happen.”
Inspired by Gwenette and Vanette’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.