In 1988, Stacie Litke gave birth to a daughter—who was born several months premature. “She spent quite a bit of time in critical care and the nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit were absolutely amazing,” says Stacie, who grew up in Farmington, New Mexico. “They took such great care of me and it sparked this idea that nursing was what I wanted to do.”
Life got in the way of Stacie’s dream, however, and instead of nursing school, she became a Certified Nurse Aide at San Juan Regional Medical Center. She has worked there ever since. After remarrying in 2002—her three children then older and more independent—she finally decided the time was right to become a Registered Nurse. “My husband is a critical care nurse and was the one who pushed me to do it,” she says. In 2006, Stacie went back to school, graduating with the ADN in 2010.
Straight into critical care
Immediately after graduating, Stacie became a charge nurse in the intensive care unit at San Juan. The intensity of her job led her to pursue numerous certifications, but in the back of her mind was the goal of the BSN. She enrolled in a BSN in her area but grew unhappy in the program. “That’s when I looked around online and found American Sentinel,” Stacie says. “It was one of the most affordable programs I found and I loved the eight-week courses, the curriculum and everyone I talked to.” In 2014, she started at American Sentinel.
A supportive experience
In 2016, the unexpected death of her son-in-law and father-in-law and several other family tragedies sent Stacie and her husband into a tailspin. “It was a really hard time for me and my family,” she says. To her surprise, however, one of her greatest supporters was her American Sentinel family. “I had some incredible support from my advisor, Abigail, and the professors at American Sentinel. They were understanding about my challenges and worked with me when they didn’t have to. That personalized the experience for me. I was treated like a human, not a student.”
After a four-month break, Stacie returned to school in May 2017. She has completed her BSN coursework and is now working toward the MSN, infection prevention and control specialization, aiming for a 2018 graduation. “I’ve dreamed of getting a master’s degree for years,” she says. “I was denied that ability for so long that today I’m making it a priority. My education is something I have control over, that nobody can take away from me. I’ve worked hard for it and I’m proud of it!”
A nursing family
Stacie’s husband holds the BSN as well and the couple is considering doing a Nurse Practitioner program together after she graduates with the MSN. Together, they have seven children—all grown—five of whom also work in healthcare (two RNs, two CNAs and a physical therapy assistant).
Her education, Stacie says, will equip her with job security and the ability to work in epidemiology, an area in which she has become interested in recent years. “I love my job today, but I love the idea of earning an education in something that has become such an important focus area for nursing,” she says. “If these degrees lead to other opportunities one day, I’m open to that. Overall, education is something that has always been important to me and I’m just happy that I did it.”
Inspired by Stacie’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.