When Kris Chuma became a Registered Nurse through the Reading Hospital School of Nursing, he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do—but took advantage of the versatility of his degree. “I’ve had all kinds of rewarding experiences in nursing, from working in emergency and trauma to plastic surgery to behavior psychology with adolescents,” says Kris, a native of Frackville, Pennsylvania. “That’s one of the great things about this field: there are many areas to try and a lot of jobs available.”
Quenching this thirst for knowledge
Inspired by his mother, who worked as a nurse until she passed away when Kris was in high school, Kris enjoyed nursing from the start—especially the impact he could have on patients. Seven years into his career, Kris applied to Geisinger Health System, one of the nation’s largest rural health services organizations, which happened to be in his backyard. “In our area, Geisinger is a highly respected leader and employer,” he says. He was hired in 2013. “I turned down a few opportunities to join this hospital.”
Today, Kris is a critical care nurse in same day surgery. He spends his days admitting patients, preparing them for surgery and caring for patients in the recovery room. The variety is his favorite part of the job—and for the first time in his career, Kris has a regular daytime schedule. After becoming a father the same year he joined Geisinger, achieving work-life balance is more important than ever, he says.
Encouraged by Geisinger
After a year with Geisinger, Kris decided that the time was right to pursue his BSN. “Honestly, the main reason I wanted to get my degree is because I feel I owe it to my son to do the best I can,” he says. After exploring his options, Kris learned about American Sentinel University, a Geisinger educational partner. “I heard nothing but good things from my co-workers about the support and the advisors, and they were right. I was impressed right away.”
Kris started the BSN program in 2014 and has been happy all around. “American Sentinel really takes care of you,” he says. Staying true to his commitment to give his education 100% effort, Kris also has surprised himself. “I’ve never learned more or gotten higher grades in my life, and I think it’s because I really want this—I’m doing this to better my life. The only person I’m helping or hurting is my son, and that motivates me.” Now more than halfway done, Kris is striving to maintain a 4.0 GPA.
Options for his future
Kris has found a happy home at Geisinger, but knows that having the BSN will help him pursue any career avenue. “These days, the BSN is the stepping stone to anywhere you want to go in nursing,” he says. Based on his positive experience so far—and the tremendous support from Geisinger, his supervisors, and his ex-wife, with whom he shares custody of their two-year-old son—Kris plans to continue on for a master’s degree.
“Now that I’m in school, I can see how much more the MSN or another master’s degree would benefit me,” says Kris, who will graduate with the BSN in 2016. “In the beginning I wanted to power through this, but now I feel like these classes are helping me think about the big picture of nursing and how to understand patients better. Since Geisinger is so supportive of education, I’d absolutely consider returning to American Sentinel again. Education is making me a better nurse.”
Inspired by Kris’ 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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.