Jody Montgomery has always been something of a caretaker.
The Michigan native lost her mom at a young age and was the oldest of four children, so taking care of others came naturally to her. Out of high school, she started taking nursing school prerequisite classes but had to stop so she could support herself. “I met my husband and got married and we started a family,” says Jody. For 20 years, she worked in a variety of jobs in a factory and a utility company.
Pursuing her passion
Eventually, Jody decided that the time was right to go after her dream. She earned the RN-ADN at a local community college started her career at Spectrum Health, an integrated health system and one of the nation’s Top 15 healthcare organizations. She started in the progressive care cardiothoracic unit, progressing to charge nurse, inpatient nursing supervisor and interim nurse manager. During this time, Jody began a BSN program at Ferris State University. The time commitment amid her other life responsibilities, however, caused her to look at other programs to which she could transfer.
A new opportunity, a new path
In 2012, a close friend and fellow RN approached Jody about transferring to Spectrum Health’s post-acute services area, specifically in home care as an RN case manager. She interviewed and got the job and had great opportunities to grow her career and bolster her resume. “I knew that it was becoming more important for me to get my BSN as well as my MSN,” says Jody. “If I want to continue to grow and possibly pursue other leadership positions, a BSN is really the minimum. Spectrum Health is very supportive of education and offers a great tuition reimbursement program. With this support, I could finish what I’d started.”
Upon a friend’s recommendation, Jody did her research and learned that American Sentinel University is an educational partner of Spectrum Health. She liked the up-to-date nursing curriculum, the research component of the MSN, and the structure of the classes. In January 2015, Jody started where she left off in her pursuit of the BSN. She will complete the BSN program in early 2017 and plans to continue on for an MSN, nursing management and organizational leadership specialization.
In 2014, Jody had the opportunity to move into a clinical manager position at Visiting Nurses Association. She is the home care team’s clinical expert, researching evidence-based practice, Medicare and Medicaid policy, scheduling clinicians, and coordinating care transitions for patients from acute care, rehabilitation and physician’s offices. Jody’s goal is to ensure home care patients receive quality, safe care in their homes.
Her BSN course work, she says, has helped her tremendously. “It was spot on with me because I was able to draw from my bedside and case management experience and apply it directly to the program,” she says.
High hopes for the MSN
Jody begins the MSN in May and says her hopes are high that the experience will be as great as the BSN has been. “I do envision a lot of opportunity here at Spectrum Health, and I hope that as I continue to gain experience and knowledge, leadership advancement and application is in my future,” she says. “I know that the MSN will help me a lot because Spectrum Health is an organization that recognizes leadership potential and fosters it so you can take the next step in your journey.”
As for nurses in her same shoes who have busy jobs, family, and other life responsibilities, Jody encourages them to pursue their goals. “It’s been difficult for certain, but my husband and children have been very supportive,” she says. “Furthering your education is absolutely worth it. Healthcare changes by the second, and as nurses, we’re constantly learning. Higher education equips you to better serve your community.”
Inspired by Jody’s 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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.