When Diana Kelly graduated from high school, she didn’t hesitate to start her journey toward becoming a nurse. Diana set her sights on the best nursing diploma program in her area: the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating, she started her career at Philadelphia’s Hahnemann University Hospital, a 496-bed academic medical center, and later moved to North Carolina, where she got a foot in the door at University of North Carolina Health Care System. Diana started in neurosurgery at UNC Chapel Hill and worked her way into management.
Always on her mind
As her career progressed—primarily in the OR, but also in travel nursing, medical/surgical and discharge planning—Diana often thought about furthering her education, but simply didn’t have the time. When her mother fell ill, she moved back to Pennsylvania in 2007 to take care of her. She joined Temple University Hospital (TUH) in 2009 as a neurology and orthopedics nurse, eventually joining renowned neurosurgery’s specialty transplant team. TUH was ranked in 2015-16 as one of the best in the region for neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report.
The life change caused Diana to think hard about her future—and her family was behind her. “I have seven brothers and sisters, and they all started encouraging me to think about going to school while I was taking care of our mom,” Diana says. After her mother passed, she was inspired to finally take the leap.
Discovering American Sentinel University
A Temple University Health co-worker told Diana about American Sentinel, where she was also a student. “She told me, ‘If I can do it, you can do it,’” recalls Diana. Temple was supportive of her pursuit of higher education, even offering partial tuition reimbursement. So, Diana did her own due diligence and explored BSN programs at a few universities, but was sold on the strong support system offered by American Sentinel. “The student success advisors and the genuine commitment to student support really make the university stand out.”
In 2014, Diana enrolled in the BSN program at American Sentinel. “I never thought I’d go to school online, because I always thought you’d have to be a computer maven for that,” she says. “But American Sentinel and its magnificent advisors make it very doable.”
Becoming a student again has offered Diana new insights into the rapidly changing nursing profession, but it also gave her something more. “Being a student has turned the lights on for me in a job I’ve been doing for 40 years,” she says. “I was amazed. Work became so much more enjoyable as soon as I became a student. I’ve gained a totally different perspective.”
That perspective, she adds, has brought her closer to her community at a time when the nursing industry has undergone tremendous change. “The most beautiful part about learning like this is that you understand what’s going on with people—your patients,” Diana says.
A future of opportunity
Diana will continue to work in the OR at TUH. When she finishes her BSN in 2017, she knows it will open doors that might not otherwise be open to her. “As we’ve moved toward Magnet status, having the BSN is more important than ever—and having it might help me get a different type of job if I decide to,” she says. “But really, I’m just enjoying the experience. My job has become even more fun because I’m learning in areas where I wasn’t learning before.”
Inspired by Diana’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.