Although Michelle Crillo grew up with a mother who was a nurse, it wasn’t until later in life that she decided to become one herself.
Out of high school, the Michigan native earned an associate degree in health information and did medical transcription work for doctors’ offices. “I was raising my kids, and it worked well for my life at the time,” says Michelle. But it was the birth of three of her four children and subsequent time spent in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that planted the seed for something else: nursing. “Having babies in the NICU had a big impact on me. I vowed after the third time that one day, I would go into nursing and try to make a difference for children and their parents going through the same thing.”
Back to college
After a move to Oklahoma due to her husband’s job, Michelle decided that the timing was right to go to nursing school—with all of her children in preschool and elementary school. She began the BSN program at the University of Central Oklahoma and graduated in 2011. During her clinical rotations, she spent time at McBride Orthopedic Hospital and fell in love with the organization. Michelle started as a staff nurse and has been with the hospital ever since. “This is a family-type atmosphere,” she says. “I’ve had great opportunities and really enjoy the work.”
While she was in school mode, Michelle kept going and earned the MSN, nursing education in 2012. “I’ve always loved teaching,” says Michelle who has homeschooled her four children. Armed with her master’s degree, she landed an adjunct teaching position at her BSN alma mater, University of Central Oklahoma in 2013. Soon, she began thinking more seriously about a future as an educator.
An open door
In summer 2014, Michelle was approached to take over as director of infection and prevention at McBride. “They knew that I had a master’s and had gained a lot of experience doing research on evidence-based practice, analyzing data and more,” she says. Michelle moved from charge nurse and supervisor into the director position. In January 2015, she was also asked to take over education and employee health. “I have always enjoyed education so it was a natural fit. I do love the roles I have here. It’s a lot of responsibility but I’m someone who does better when my plate is brimming.”
Taking on a new challenge: the DNP
Unsurprisingly, then, after acclimating to her new job, Michelle set her sights even higher: she wanted to pursue a doctorate. “Administration at my hospital doesn’t require it, but they are very encouraging,” she says. “For me, a big motivator is pride, but I also think translating research into hands-on clinical skills that our staff can understand is very valuable.”
Michelle came across American Sentinel University at the 2016 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) annual conference. She stopped by the university’s booth every day of the conference and by the time she packing her bags to return home, she was ready to apply. In August 2016, Michelle started her first class of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership.
Laying the groundwork
Although Michelle is excited about applying what she learns to her multifaceted job overseeing infection prevention and control as well as staff education and new hire orientation at McBride, she is also excited about the opportunities in education that the DNP will bring.
Michelle is grateful for the flexibility and structure of the online DNP program. “I thrive on having a lot going, but there’s absolutely no way I could do this if it wasn’t online,” she says. Above all, Michelle adds that she’s proud to set a good example. “I love showing my daughters that women can pursue careers and still be nurturing mothers, and I love that my son gets to grow up around strong women. I started out as a medical tech and today I’m getting a doctorate. I love that my children get to see that.”
Inspired by Michelle’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. 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.