Michelle Johnson comes from a long line of nurses, and always knew she would become one herself, but life took her on a winding path. She started college at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, after high school but put her education on hold when she married and had her first child.
Always in healthcare
Although her nursing career didn’t begin until her late 30s, Michelle has worked in healthcare since the age of 18, starting out as a staffing coordinator at Park Place Medical Center (today The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, an IASIS Healthcare hospital). “I also picked up weekend shifts as an emergency room tech,” she says. When her youngest of four children went to kindergarten, Michelle decided to get the ADN, earning the degree in 2008. “Nursing affords you to do a little of everything, which is what I love about it.”
And indeed, Michelle has held a variety of roles at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas and its predecessor. After becoming a Registered Nurse, she left her role as a staffing coordinator to join the intensive care unit and later, the emergency room. She also spent time as a clinical recruiter for the hospital.
Acquiring new knowledge
As time went on, Michelle started thinking about furthering her education. “The desire to be the best I can be and give my patients the best possible care was certainly on my mind,” she says. “In nursing, things are always changing. I knew that a BSN would help me stay up on evidence-based practice and the various national initiatives that are meant to improve nursing.” As an educational partner of IASIS Healthcare, American Sentinel University came up in Michelle’s search and she decided to go for the BSN, starting the program in 2014. “From the first class, everything I learned was applicable to my job immediately.”
Michelle’s experience was so positive, in fact, that she decided to continue on for an MSN. “I decided about halfway through my BSN that I would keep going,” she says. “I have goals to continue moving up and you can never have too much education. I decided to get the MSN because I think it helps you better understand the all-encompassing picture of the healthcare industry.”
In fall 2015, Michelle was approached to manage the acute rehabilitation area at her hospital, which had suffered from a variety of issues. She spent eight months in the role and made such vast improvements that she was recruited again to help another area: telemetry. Having her education under her belt boosted her credentials as a candidate. “I think my education has helped me mature as a nurse and a leader and I do believe that the education is what allowed me to step into these roles.” Over the past 14 months, Michelle has made several operational improvements that have translated into better patient care at her hospital.
Next step: more education in 2018
Now the director of telemetry at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, Michelle will graduate with the MSN in 2017 and has already decided that she’s going to pursue the Doctor of Nursing Executive Leadership at American Sentinel after a year-long break. “I’ll retire from this facility without a doubt, but there’s so much more opportunity,” she says. “The DNP would help me take the next step, whatever that might be. American Sentinel structures their programs so they’re conducive to the working adult. The experience you gain is applicable no matter what stage you’re at in your career. For me, my education has helped me grow a lot professionally.”
Inspired by Michelle’ story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing management and organizational leadership, nursing education, informatics, 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.