When Maimuna Jatta was a child growing up in Gambia, Africa, she unfortunately became quite familiar with what it was like to spend time in a hospital. “I got malaria at least one week of every school year until about seventh grade,” she says. Her experiences with the “wonderful nurses” who took care of her and comforted her parents during such times influenced her path. She became a Red Cross volunteer as soon as she was old enough and went straight into nursing school as soon as she graduated high school.
Experience in a teaching hospital
After nursing school, Maimuna gained experience in OBGYN at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Gambia. She soon switched to the medical-surgical unit, before moving to the United States by way of Iowa in 2011. Her first stop was Grand View University, where she earned a BSN in 2013. Thereafter, Maimuna joined Broadlawns Medical Center, a community hospital, as a staff nurse.
But life led Maimuna to move to Virginia, where she had family and friends. “I was looking for a great opportunity in a teaching hospital, ideally a Magnet facility, where I could learn and grow,” she says. She joined Carilion Roanoke Hospital in July 2015 as a clinical team lead. “I have a lot of floor responsibilities and some management duties as well,” she says. “The unit is like an acute care unit and was new when I joined. It’s been exciting to see how it has grown into a full-sized unit. I love working here and the sense of community throughout the hospital.”
Time for an MSN
Maimuna knew when she completed the BSN that she wasn’t done with school. “I fell in love with nursing as soon as I started my career,” she says. “I know the impact you can have as a nurse and I’d like to at least get a master’s degree.” After browsing many programs, she learned about American Sentinel from her best friend, also an American Sentinel student. She enrolled in the MSN in 2015. “This is one program that gave me the opportunity to study both public health and nursing through the infection prevention and control specialization. That’s very appealing to me because of my background working in public health back in Gambia. This really is the perfect curriculum for my goals and the fact that it is online and I can continue to work full time is a bonus.”
An eye on management
A longer-term goal for Maimuna is to equip herself to move up within her organization. “There might be a day when I don’t want to work 12-hour shifts on the floor and I want to ensure I’m able to balance my life goals with my career,” she says. “I want to plan for the future.”
In her free time, Maimuna also dedicates herself to a nonprofit that is near and dear to her heart. Your Change for a Change provides bed nets for children under the age of five and women to help prevent the spread of malaria in African countries. One day, she could see herself getting more involved—and the MSN, infection prevention and control specialization, will give her more knowledge to make a difference.
A sense of pride
Earning a graduate degree focused on infection control has earned Maimuna the respect of many. “I don’t think it’s as common as far as MSN programs go,” she says, adding that the learning experience has been richer than she even expected. “Everything I’m learning is totally new to me, which makes the program really interesting.” When she finishes the MSN in October 2017, more education isn’t out of the question. I’ll take a break, but then, who knows? I love to learn and I love gaining new knowledge.”
Inspired by Maimuna’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.