Twenty-five years ago, Bruce Bowles saw an ad in the newspaper calling for Certified Nurse Aides at a local nursing home, Windsor Place, and he was intrigued. “I had chosen cosmetology as a career path, but was struggling and raising two small children, and decided to give nursing a shot,” says Bruce, who was raised in Coffeyville, Kansas, where Windsor Place is located.
It didn’t take long for Bruce to be hooked. Later, he moved to Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, a rural hospital, and became an Emergency Medical Technician and paramedic. He earned the A.A.S. in nursing in 1997 and returned to Windsor for a short time, working there while his grandmother was a resident in the Alzheimer’s care unit. “The staff at Windsor was so compassionate and caring, and I’ve always tried to emulate that in my own practice.”
Time for an adventure
In 2004, Bruce followed his heart to try flight nursing, and was lucky enough to join some of the most prestigious flight programs in the country. The job led him to Texas, where he joined one of the busiest Level 1 trauma centers in the nation, Memorial Hermann Hospital, as a flight nurse and then a transfer coordinator. Later, he worked for Pikes Peak Regional Hospital in Woodland Park, Colorado, as a clinical educator and clinical informatics coordinator, and Fredonia Regional Hospital in Fredonia, Kansas, as lead house supervisor.
An unexpected turn of events
While working at Pikes Peak Regional, Bruce learned of the center’s educational partnership with American Sentinel University—and its generous tuition reimbursement program for employees. “I always said I’d never go back to school,” Bruce says. “But I knew I needed to if I wanted to continue to advance my career.” Bruce applied to American Sentinel and started the BSN program in 2011.
Bruce was initially concerned about the self-directed nature of the program. “I found early on that setting a schedule was the best way for me to succeed,” he says. “I also could not have been successful without my student success advisor, Peggy Fry, and her replacement, Tami Layman. The advisors at American Sentinel work diligently to make students’ experiences positive.” Bruce had such a great experience, in fact, that he decided to continue on for the MSN after he completed the BSN. He graduated with the MSN, management and organizational leadership specialization in March 2015.
The stars align
In summer 2015, Bruce had a new job opportunity arise—one close to his heart. Windsor Place, where he got his start, needed a director of nursing services. The center now offers a long-term care facility and short-stay unit for those recovering from surgical conditions as well as its assisted living facility. “I’m part of the administrative team and have about 120 direct reports, including CNAs, medication aides, LPNs and RNs,” Bruce says.
Bruce started back at Windsor in August 2015—and couldn’t be happier. “Windsor Place fits my personal philosophy,” he says. “We believe that if our employees are happy and have the tools to succeed, then our residents and their families are as well. That results in better patient outcomes.”
He admits that without American Sentinel, the opportunity might have never come his way. “I know that my degree at American Sentinel made this job possible,” Bruce says. “I definitely recommend American Sentinel. The program allows students to work at their own pace and be successful. I enjoyed the program and I’m excited about where it has led me.”
Inspired by Bruce’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.