Tammy Parker decided to become a nurse after spending time at her first-born daughter’s hospital bedside when she was just seven years old. “My daughter was very ill from rare complications from a chicken pox outbreak, and I remember how frustrating it was to not understand the terminology of what was going on,” says Tammy, whose mother is a nurse. When she moved to Virginia years later and her youngest of three daughters started kindergarten, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and earn the Licensed Practical Nurse certificate.
Tammy started her career as an LPN in 1997 at a rehabilitation and assisted living facility, and later, at a children’s hospital that focuses on patients with impairments due to brain injuries, chronic illness, neurobehavioral conditions and emotional/behavioral difficulties. She also worked as a nurse at a correctional facility. In 2003, Tammy became an RN and joined Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center as a charge nurse, working primarily with patients with diabetes and renal diseases.
Committed to further education
In 2007, Tammy joined the U.S. Army as a Department of Defense civilian and became a charge nurse in an Urgent Care Center at McDonald Army Health Center in Fort Eustis, Virginia. She had opportunities to move into various positions—in the acute minor illness clinic and in the allergy/immunizations, internal medicine, dermatology and respiratory therapy clinics—but was soon encouraged by her colonel to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“The BSN opened doors for me in my career,” says Tammy, who became a supervisor after graduating from an online BSN program in 2011. While in McDonald’s immunizations clinic, she got involved with informatics—and it sparked her interest. “Although I was reluctant to get the BSN, it ended up being a great thing. I decided to pursue my master’s degree in informatics. When you see all that’s happening in that area of healthcare and how important it is to bridge the clinical and the technological sides of the house, it is clear there’s a lot of opportunity.”
American Sentinel offered the MSN program she sought
A friend of Tammy’s attended American Sentinel University and encouraged her to explore its MSN, nursing informatics specialization. “It really was the program I was looking for,” says Tammy, who started the program in 2014. “One of the main reasons I enjoyed American Sentinel so much was that I used real examples from my job in my projects. I pulled in real-world challenges on a daily basis and put the patient in the center of everything.”
A new job
At the same time that she was starting the MSN, Tammy also got a new job—as quality management administrative coordinator. Her new role has her serving as the authority on performance improvement methodologies that may include Lean Six Sigma and FOCUS “plan, do, check, act” concepts. “It’s a very diverse job and every day is different,” she says. “The MSN helped me become a better researcher, an important part of the job, so I’m a better asset to my facility.”
A wide-open future
In May 2016, Tammy graduated from American Sentinel. With her new credentials, she hopes to position herself to take advantage of future career opportunities. She has pursued yellow and green belt training for Lean Six Sigma and recently completed Lean Leader training. “I like to always be learning, and it’s one of the great things about the Army: they believe in continuous training,” says Tammy.
While she is already in a leadership position at McDonald, Tammy is confident that the MSN will secure her position and bolster her resume so she can continue to do great things. “My education makes it possible for me to be a skilled leader,” she says. “I would definitely recommend the informatics MSN program at American Sentinel. Technology has had a dramatic impact on healthcare. This program gives you the skills you need to improve healthcare and maintain high-quality patient care.”
Inspired by Tammy’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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.