After 36 years in nursing, Jenny Steed never planned to go back to school. “I was actually required to go back for the BSN,” says Jenny, who received a diploma nursing degree in 1980 from Roanoke Memorial Hospital. She joined Sentara Hospital Systems and became an acute renal dialysis nurse at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, medical center with over 500 beds and the primary teaching institution for Eastern Virginia Medical School. Along the way, she became a Certified Nephrology Nurse.
For 25 years, Jenny worked as a staff charge nurse and educator for dialysis patients, but left Norfolk General in 2005 to try something new. She joined Gambro, a global leader in renal products and therapies, as an intensive care therapy specialist, having grown familiar with the organization through her work at the hospital. “It was interesting to gain a totally new perspective,” she says. “My job was to work with hospitals all around the country and show them how to use Gambro’s continuous renal replacement therapy machines to treat patients with kidney problems. It was a great step for me.”
Returning to Sentara
When her former boss asked Jenny to return to Sentara Norfolk General in 2010 to become a leadership team coordinator for the acute renal dialysis unit, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Within a few years of her return, however, she was informed that the BSN was now a requirement for all new nurses—and she would need to earn one herself within a few years.
“Norfolk General is a Magnet hospital and Sentara now hires only BSN-prepared nurses going forward,” Jenny says. “So here I am with all this experience and I’m faced with having to go back to school.” Admittedly, however, Jenny has always wanted to further her education. Despite some nerves about the life change and time commitment, she investigated programs and learned about American Sentinel University’s online RN to BSN program through another Sentara employee.
The right fit for her life
Jenny hesitated initially at the idea of online learning, but she was put at ease by the program structure and the level of support. “The key thing that stood out to me about American Sentinel was that every single person there wants you to succeed,” she says. “They understand that people like me, who might not be as computer savvy as today’s generation, make up a big portion of their students. The advisors are there for anything you need, and you can tell that they care.” After taking several prerequisite courses at her local community college, Jenny enrolled at American Sentinel in September 2016.
Never easy, but always worthwhile
Jenny’s job is busy, so she’s getting used to working and going to school at the same time. “I get up in the mornings before work to do my school work,” she says. “It’s really nice that you can do this on your own schedule and fit it into your life.” She plans to graduate with the BSN in 2018.
As someone who has always appreciated the importance of well-roundedness in nursing, Jenny adds that she is embracing this new adventure. “I like learning what’s new in nursing and learning about areas outside of the specialty area I’ve worked in for three decades,” she says. “I always believe in bettering yourself as a nurse. And even though this wasn’t in my plans, now that I’m in school, I’m finding it to be fun and challenging.”
Inspired by Jenny’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.