For Texas native Lacey Bass, nursing was a second career. A competitive public speaker growing up, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication in 2000 from the University of Texas at San Antonio and started her career in public relations. Eventually, Lacey joined her family’s third-generation water pump business as the business manager.
Healthcare, however, was always an interest. “When I was in college, I worked as a clerk in an Emergency Room and my sister was working on her nursing degree,” says Lacey. After a while, she realized that healthcare was where she belonged. She enrolled in a one-year, web-based BSN program at Texas Tech University and graduated in 2007.
Finding her way to nursing education
Lacey started out in home healthcare and worked her way up to become a director of nursing. A passion for learning pushed her toward nursing education, as did a personal challenge: a hearing deficit. “I wear two hearing aids, but when I lost my fine-tune hearing completely, I knew I couldn’t do patient care anymore,” says Lacey. In 2010, she enrolled in an online MSN Nursing Education program. “I think nursing education is where I was meant to be. Education has always been a place where I feel I can shine. It made sense to move in this career direction.”
While in graduate school, Lacey was lucky enough to land a position at Galen College of Nursing in San Antonio, teaching in the RN program. It was, without question, her dream job. “I feel so fortunate every single day to do something I love and am so passionate about,” she says. By the time she graduated with her MSN in 2013, Lacey concluded that more education was in her future.
DNP Educational Leadership
Lacey sought a doctorate program that was both practice focused and nursing education focused. When she found American Sentinel University in her research, the decision was made easy. “American Sentinel was clearly the program for me. It’s focused on how to be a better educator and how to lead future educators to be the best they can be.”
The DNP curriculum covering topics such as accreditation and curriculum development was a highlight for Lacey, as was the university’s commitment to technology. “That’s a parallel I see between Galen and American Sentinel: the dedication to innovative methods of online instruction,” she says. Others from Galen College have followed in Lacey’s footsteps. The organization established an educational partnership with American Sentinel and currently has several other faculty members enrolled in the DNP program.
A big promotion
In 2014, Lacey became the nursing associate program director at Galen College, a role to which she felt confident applying because of her American Sentinel education. “My doctoral education has prepared me to lead our faculty and prepare Galen for our national accreditation process,” she says. “Choosing the American Sentinel program is the best thing I ever did.” In her role today, Lacey manages all online nursing courses in the ADN bridge program and facilitates training of online faculty.
The opportunities made possible
Lacey will graduate with the DNP Educational Leadership in June 2016. As a graduate of two online programs and an online educator, 21st-century learning is close to her heart.
“Technology is really the great equalizer for me and has made certain things possible that wouldn’t be otherwise,” she says. “I love teaching and speaking, but I would struggle in a classroom to hear students when they need me. Also, I teach students who are no longer limited by geography.”
Lacey adds that online learning adds richness to the student experience—something she knows about firsthand. “My DNP cohort brought together nurse educators from all around the country,” says Lacey. “We share many of the same experiences, and many different ones, and each brought different but valuable perspectives. This program truly changed me as a nurse, educator, leader and person. I’m very thankful.”
Inspired by Lacey’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.