Christina Cole’s path to nursing was a personal one, inspired by her mother’s story about her very own entry to the world. “I was born three months early and almost died, and my mom always told me that the neonatal intensive care unit nurses took the best care of me,” she says. After high school, Christina worked for a Pathmark supermarket and moved to North Carolina to attend Central Carolina Community College for general studies. Eventually, she decided she was meant for nursing. “I wanted to give back—nurses saved my life. It’s an amazing thing to do God’s work, to heal others and make a true difference in people’s lives.”
Back home in New Jersey, in 1994, Christina earned the ADN at Ocean County College. She immediately went into pediatrics, and her first full-time role was with PSA Healthcare. She also worked for Gambro Healthcare as an evening dialysis charge nurse and at Kimball Medical Center in pediatrics.
Life challenges and changes
In 2003, Christina’s life was turned upside down when her mother died unexpectedly from cancer. She started a new job at Southern Ocean Medical Center, first in pediatrics, but eventually moved to the medical/surgical floor. “We handle just about everything, from pneumonia to bronchitis to appendicitis,” Christina says. “I love that we have all of the benefits of a small community hospital. My patients aren’t just numbers. I’ve worked with many of the same people for 10 years.”
Time for the BSN
Throughout her career, Christina considered pursuing further education many times before—but her life schedule simply wouldn’t allow it. A mom of two girls, life outside of work was all about Girl Scouts, gymnastics and color guard. “An unfortunate personal event made me finally decide to go for it,” says Christina. One of her managers happened to be an American Sentinel alumna and encouraged her to look into the BSN program.
“At first I said, ‘I can’t do this, I’m not a strong writer…I am not great with computers,’ but she convinced me that I could do it,” Christina recalls. Taking a leap of faith, she applied to American Sentinel and enrolled in October 2015. “My advisor is excellent, the workload isn’t overwhelming and the support staff at American Sentinel is there for anything you need. The rubrics for each class are also really helpful—I use them to guide me when writing papers and completing assignments, and so far I’m doing great.”
Securing her future
Christina admits that her primary motivation for completing the BSN is to ensure she is always hirable wherever her career path takes her. “Having a bachelor’s is required in my field now, and I do think it’s important that I get my degree,” she says. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that this will help me no matter I do.”
Another benefit is the knowledge she has gained. “Being in classes again has given me a lot to think about, especially in terms of regulatory and insurance issues,” she says. “Having more knowledge is always good, and often makes you want to do more and be more. For me, it all comes down to patient care. I want to do the best for my patients and that means bettering myself.”
Inspired by Christina’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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.