For nearly 30 years, Randy Kesterson enjoyed many turns in his nursing career. “I’ve had a lot of great opportunities,” says Randy, an Ohio native who joined the U.S. Air Force after high school. After working as a medic in labor and delivery and a Licensed Practical Nurse, Randy became a Registered Nurse in 1992 and worked as a travel nurse in the intensive care and critical care units. Eventually, he settled in Tucson, Arizona, working in organ recovery services, helping open an ICU for a new hospital and more. Despite his successes, however, not having the BSN held Randy back. “I could never get the promotion I wanted,” he says. “I was secure in my job, but I was stuck where I was. I wanted to change that.”
The pursuit of a BSN
In 2011, then a staff nurse in the ICU of Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System, Randy decided to take the plunge and go back to school. He enrolled in an online BSN program, but was disappointed with the experience. “I felt completely on my own,” he says. “The support from instructors and advisors just wasn’t there.” Not ready to give up on his goal, Randy decided to retrench. He did more research on recommended BSN programs and came across American Sentinel University.
A perfect fit from the very first phone call
Immediately, Randy found American Sentinel to be what he was looking for. “I hung up the phone after my first conversation with an admissions counselor and thought, ‘This is where I belong,’” he says. He began the BSN in 2013 and continued to feel encouraged. “One of the best parts of the experience was going to school with nurses from all over the world. It was like a constant conversation with colleagues from all different areas in nursing. My student success advisors, including Tami Layman, have been supportive and helpful. At American Sentinel, I have never felt alone.”
At the same time that he started the BSN, Randy changed jobs—an opportunity offered to him by Southern Arizona VA because he was enrolled in a BSN program. He worked the surgical care line in the post-anesthesia care unit, and after a year, had yet another chance to move up in the organization. Today, Randy works in outpatient care—specifically in preventative health and disease management. “I’ve never worked in a job where I get to see patients progress and get better,” he says. “Now I get to coach patients and watch them improve. It’s very satisfying.”
Eye on the prize
Randy worked diligently toward his BSN while getting acclimated with his new job. With plenty of challenges to overcome—he is the primary caregiver for his blind older sister and his younger sister passed away unexpectedly in May 2015—it wasn’t easy to get to the finish line. But in spring 2015, Randy received the BSN. “Determination got me through, along with support from family, coworkers, my boss, and American Sentinel.”
At commencement in spirit
Due to the passing of his sister in May, Randy was unable to attend graduation in Denver in June. His advisors knew how hard he had worked, and decided to do something special for him. “One day, I opened the mail and Tami and Devon [Putnam] had mailed me my honor cords, nursing pin and diploma cover,” he says. “For them to be that thoughtful was never something I expected. But American Sentinel has exceeded expectations.”
With the BSN now complete, a spark has ignited within Randy to do more. “I now have this drive to pursue the MSN,” he says. “My time at American Sentinel was such a good experience that it would be hard to consider doing that anywhere else!”
Inspired by Randy’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.