When Jenny Lucy earned her nursing diploma 21 years ago at King’s College in London, she had no idea how many exciting opportunities awaited her. The daughter of a nurse, the field always appealed to her. She started her career working with rehabilitation patients on the sub-acute unit for several hospitals and as a staff nurse in the cardiac stepdown unit of Anne Arundel Medical Center. Along the way, she got a BSN at South Bank University. In 2003, she started a master’s in education, which she completed in 2006.
Beginning her teaching career
After marrying a federal agent for the United States government and moving to America, Jenny found herself moving around the country every few years. She gained skills and interests in many areas along the way. “Anywhere we lived, I found it easy to get a nursing job and teach at the local community college,” she says. Jenny worked in coronary care, visiting nursing and home health, among other areas. Since 2006, she has worked for Federal Occupational Health as an occupational health nurse and was a longtime adjunct at Northern Virginia Community College.
In 2010, Jenny ended up in Chicago and taught in the Certified Nursing Assistant program at Joliet Junior College. At the same time, she started a new journey: teaching online. She applied for and got a job as an adjunct professor in the RN to MSN program at American Sentinel University.
Her journey to the DNP
After a year of teaching in the RN to MSN program at American Sentinel, the university advised Jenny that her master’s in education didn’t qualify her to continue teaching. Familiar with the university’s newly launched Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership, she decided to enroll in the program to secure her future in teaching. “The rules for teaching in nursing programs were changing so thought it would be a great thing to do,” she says.
A member of the very first DNP Executive Leadership cohort, Jenny had a great experience. “The program was truly excellent,” she says. “We were a very cohesive group, each with different strengths.” After graduating in 2014, Jenny and her family moved to Georgia and she took a position at a local high school as a teacher in the career technology program. To her delight, the DNP course work helped her turn around the program to one that prepared students effectively for postsecondary education and productive careers. “I brought it up to date, put a lot of it online, and gave students mobile access. It has become a very different program, and I think the DNP gave me many of the skills to do that.”
More education: MSN, nursing management and organizational leadership
Not long after earning the DNP, Jenny realized that many nursing programs to which she was applying were expecting that she also held an MSN. “I was a little stranded even with a doctorate, so I decided to go back for the MSN,” she says. American Sentinel customized certain parts of the program that would help Jenny achieve her goals. In November 2016, she completed the program.
Poised for a great future
Although her educational journey had a few unexpected detours, Jenny says that she feels well prepared for what comes next. “My MSN specialization really gave me leadership knowledge I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and the DNP taught me all about best practices in teaching,” she says. “I am forever grateful to American Sentinel. I had excellent advisors, including Abigail, and a great experience overall.”
With two of her three children now in college, Jenny says she will move to Florida once her youngest heads to college in two years. She plans to teach, pursue an administrative position, and of course, work as a nurse. “I will always work with patients because I think when you do that, the more credible you are to students you teach and serve,” she says. “I want to do it all but I’m excited about having more of an administrative focus. I’m very hopeful for my future.”
Inspired by Lucy’s story? A DNP with a specialization in executive leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in the healthcare system. 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.