Jessica Bezotte was a 26-year-old mother of three when she decided to earn the Associate Degree of Nursing at Gateway Technical College in her hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin. She had been working as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a rehabilitation center but knew that further education would benefit her career. “Nursing school was absolutely the time of my life,” she says. “I loved Gateway so much and was appreciative of the experience and what it did for my career.” After becoming an RN, Jessica joined Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare as a patient care coordinator. Her dream was to work with cancer patients.
Landing her dream job
In 2011, that dream came true and Jessica got an RN position at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America on the medical oncology ward. For the last year, she has worked as unit shift lead. “What I love about my job is that I get to lead the staff, but I still get to care for patients,” she says. “I love helping my staff figure things out, helping them determine how to do their jobs better.”
When her employer announced its initiative to have 80 percent of its nursing workforce become BSN educated or higher, Jessica started exploring her options. “As soon as my youngest child started kindergarten, I decided it was time,” she says. With the support of her husband, she approached her boss, who happened to be a student at American Sentinel University. “American Sentinel came highly recommended and I got a great impression from the start.” In January 2013, Jessica started the program.
Getting it done
Being a student, wife, mother of four and full-time nurse was no small feat, but Jessica was focused and determined. In addition to her role at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, she is a PRN nurse in the intensive care unit of Wheaton Franciscan, working a shift a week to stay current on clinical areas outside of oncology. “I worked very hard to stay organized and on top of it all,” she says. In March 2016, Jessica graduated from the MSN, nursing education specialization—with a 4.0 GPA.
Reaching her goal: nursing educator
The main reason Jessica pursued the MSN, nursing education specialization was to lay the groundwork to return to the place where it all began for her. “I had a great experience at Gateway Technical College and I would love to become a first- or second-semester nursing instructor one day,” she says. While her children are young, Jessica plans to continue to work the night shift so she can be available for them after school, but in the next several years, she would love to start teaching. “I think as a new nursing student, the instructors can make such an important difference for you. Those students are eager and excited and I would love the opportunity to teach them during that important part of their lives.”
Better from the experience
As a nurse who is committed to keeping her skills up to date, Jessica says that the MSN was an eye opener. “There is so much happening in healthcare today and this program gave me perspective from many different vantage points,” she says. “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is the importance of research and data.”
Jessica also feels grateful that her children have watched her pursue her goal. One unexpected benefit of going to college in adulthood is that your children see you doing it,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to be a role model. I’m excited that they were able to be a part of this.”
Inspired by Jessica’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, or infection control. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.