The first time Franny Montalvo started nursing school, she knew she was in the right field—but life got in the way of her studies. “I had young children to support and the waitlist for clinical rotations was about three years,” she says. On the advice of an academic advisor, Franny switched into a respiratory therapy program and started her career in the adult, pediatric and neonatal intensive care units at HCA Chippenham Medical Center in 1996.
Eight years later, Franny and her husband were having lunch when she noticed a group of nurses dining at a nearby table. “I got very quiet and when my husband asked what was wrong, I said, “That could have been me,’” she says. “That afternoon, he drove me to the community college and told me to go inside and register for nursing classes. He said, ‘You’re going to finish what you started.’” Her husband, Franny says, has been her biggest supporter through the years—and the reason for her success.
Franny graduated summa cum laude with her Associate Degree of Nursing from Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia, in 2004. After graduating, she became a nurse in Chippenham’s intravascular care unit. Her eagerness continued to open doors, and she joined Chippenham’s cardiac catheterization lab a few years later.
A job change and a yearning for more education
In 2010, Franny accepted a clinic position at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health, a level 1 trauma hospital in Richmond. She transferred into a lead pulmonary nurse position in the multiple specialties clinic for four years and eventually returned to bedside nursing. “I came to VCU to take advantage of this organization’s educational opportunities and to learn how to run a clinic,” says Franny, who wants to teach down the road.
As a Magnet hospital striving to achieve an 80 percent-BSN-educated workforce by 2020, VCU encouraged Franny to pursue the BSN. Her mentor in the Professional Advancement Program in which she participates at VCU happened to be an MSN student at American Sentinel University. Franny checked out the program for herself and decided to do the BSN first, starting in 2012. After she finished her last class in January 2015, she took a four-month break and began the MSN, nursing education specialization. “I’m learning so much at American Sentinel,” she says. “I’m motivated to do well—not just for a grade, but to understand the concepts of nursing leadership. I want to be a steward of patients’ healthcare needs while finding innovative ways to reduce healthcare costs and link people to the right services.”
Motivated and inspired
Franny says her education has inspired her to make changes in her workplace. Upon noticing coworkers suffering injuries due to lifting and transferring patients, she approached her boss about reinforcing policies through enhanced education of staff, changes that would encourage her coworkers to use the hospital’s patient transfer equipment and become champions of patient safety. She got involved with a Falls and Restraints committee.
“It started off as a process improvement project, and I ended up using it in a class project,” Franny says. “This is just one example of how I’ve been using my evidence-based knowledge to teach others. It’s this desire to help change my work environment for the better, which really grew in me at American Sentinel.”
A love for her patients
Today, Franny works in the transitional care unit, which offloads the Emergency Department and accepts direct admissions for cardiac medication load patients. At the bedside, she’s known for going above and beyond. She has been nominated by her peers, patients and managers more than a dozen times for a DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses and received the award in 2011 for her work caring for a patient with pulmonary hypertension and aiding his family through numerous challenges with the insurance process.
The accolades are flattering, but to Franny, it’s all in a day’s work. “To me, nursing is a partnership,” Franny says. “I’m doing my job, and trying to uphold the nursing profession while adding compassionate care to evidence-based practices. At the end of the day, it’s not how much I know that matters to patients—it’s whether I use what that to improve their lives and encourage them to take ownership of their health.”
Inspired by Franny’ 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.