Nursing runs in the family for Erica Dewey, 2016 graduate of the RN to MSN program at American Sentinel University.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I was younger, but after a few years of waiting tables and some technical school after high school, I decided to follow my mom’s path into nursing,” says Erica, who is originally from Macon, Georgia. She earned the ADN at Macon State College in 2007, and started her career in critical care at the Medical Center of Central Georgia, working in the intensive care unit, emergency room and cardiovascular intensive care unit—leaving the hospital for a brief stint as an agency nurse. In 2010, Erica moved into electrophysiology at Coliseum Medical Center.
A move to Washington D.C.
When Erica’s then-husband, active-duty military, was stationed in Virginia, she took a position in the electrophysiology lab at Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C. The commute from her Alexandria, Virginia, home was difficult, however, so Erica explored opportunities at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, a 237-bed community hospital. She joined the interventional radiology (IR) lab initially. “I loved electrophysiology, but IR really grew on me,” she says. “It made me well-rounded as a nurse and more aware of the bigger picture in terms of body systems health.”
Pursuing a Master’s degree
Before Erica moved to Virginia, her employer had approached her about taking a director position. “The one barrier was that I had an associate degree, so I would’ve had to agree to get a BSN for that job,” she says. Once she arrived at Inova Mount Vernon, she started considering the idea more seriously. “I figured that I might as well go for an MSN instead of just a BSN. And I decided on nursing education as my specialization because I’ve done a lot of hands-on teaching as a nurse and really love it. It seems like there is a big need for high-quality teachers in the field today.”
When researching MSN programs, Erica decided early on that an online program would best fit her life. “I learned about American Sentinel through a colleague in interventional radiology, and felt that in addition to the online platform, the school had everything else I was looking for,” Erica says. “Military pricing, eight-week classes, the recommendation from others at Inova—it all lined up.” Today, Inova Mount Vernon is an educational partner of American Sentinel.
Three years of hard work
In 2013, Erica started the MSN, Nursing Education specialization. “I took college with me everywhere I went,” Erica says. “To my kids’ practices and activities—everywhere. My kids learned that we are all lifelong learners and that education boosts your career.”
In fact, when Erica finished the MSN in March 2016, she applied for and got a job as the clinical nurse educator for critical care at Inova. “I manage the education for nurses in the CCU, emergency department, intermediate care and the observation unit,” she says. “It’s very different from anything I’ve done before, and very rewarding.” Without the MSN, Erica adds, she wouldn’t have been a candidate for the job. “I wanted to use the degree I was pursuing, and it was amazingly perfect timing. I feel like it was meant to be.”
More education in her future
One year after finishing the MSN and taking on her new role, Erica says she is thinking about pursuing the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership at American Sentinel. “There’s a lot of opportunity for me to grow as an educator here at Inova,” she says. “I had such a good experience at American Sentinel and the DNP intrigues me. As I’ve moved into leadership, I know that a doctorate would benefit me. I’m taking a break before take my next step, but I’m definitely not done with education.”
Inspired by Erica’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.