Sheila Sherman started her career at a real estate land development company for seven years in Scottsdale, Arizona, before taking a completely different path. “I moved with my children to Colorado, where my sister was living and attending the teaching program at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), and it seemed like the right time to do something different,” says Sheila. She completed the RN-BSN bridge program at Aims Community College and UNC in 1992 and spent 10 years at the North Colorado Medical Center (Banner Health) as an ICU staff nurse. For a number of years, she also worked as the director of medical/surgical pediatrics at Platte Valley Medical Center.
A range of clinical experiences
In the early 2000s, Sheila decided to further her education and went back to UNC for an MSN. She left Banner Health and stepped down from her director position at Platte Valley Medical and turned her attention to oncology, taking a clinical oncology position. In 2006, she completed the MSN and passed her national boards for Advanced Practice in Diabetes Management. For the next decade, she built her resume with many rich experiences.
“Many of my jobs overlapped, and I was a certified diabetes educator for 11 years, an RN case manager, a nurse educator, and a clinical nurse specialist,” says Sheila, who eventually landed back at Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton, where she served as director of medical-surgical, pediatrics, and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation from 2008 to 2012. “As a leader, I think it’s important to have depth of clinical experiences because your job is to support those areas.”
Recruited to the Vail Valley
Having spent much of her career on the Front Range of Colorado, in 2012, Sheila received a call from a recruiter for a director of inpatient services position at Vail Valley Medical Center, a 58-bed community hospital. The position appealed for many reasons. “I’m always up for a new challenge, and the position would eventually lead into a VP position,” says Sheila. She accepted the job and moved to Vail. In 2014, she became the hospital’s VP of patient care services, and soon after, the CNO.
Motivated to earn a doctorate
When Sheila first moved to Vail Valley Medical Center, she decided it was important to earn a doctorate. “While it isn’t required that I hold a doctorate, I think it is so incredibly important to achieve a terminal degree in nursing,” she says. “Most importantly, it demonstrates the commitment to furthering my entire education and positioning myself as a role model in the field of nursing. Pursuing my own higher degree puts me in a position to mentor nurses more effectively.”
Sheila started another DNP in 2013, but discovered that the program wasn’t an ideal fit. “It required numerous hours of clinicals, and it seemed like it just didn’t align with what I was really striving for,” she says. She dropped the program in 2014, but was still committed to earning a DNP. “I looked at many universities online, but the value for the content was what appealed to me most and the reason I ultimately decided to go to American Sentinel.” Sheila started the Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership in February 2016. She plans to graduate in early 2018. “It’s been a great experience. I’m getting great content and curriculum at a fantastic value.”
Making it work
Without question, the challenge of balancing life as a CNO at Vail Valley Medical Center and school is immense, but Sheila says the DNP aligns well with her job. “The course work has prepared me for things that I didn’t expect,” she says. “In general, the knowledge I gain weekly and from course to course has prepared me to contribute in high-level discussions about current practices in healthcare.”
As one who believes in making a difference at every place she works, Sheila is starting to think about her next adventure after she graduates. “There is a great deal of work to accomplish in healthcare and I cannot imagine having this much passion for any other profession,” she says. “Nursing has afforded me with many opportunities.” Sheila is currently pursuing a fellowship with the American College of Healthcare Executives as well. “We’ll see what is next for me, but I know that this DNP will help me. Healthcare is a complex industry. As an executive, you have a span of responsibility that has hundreds of people depending on you. You cannot guide, lead and advise if you haven’t challenged yourself with advanced education and immersed yourself in multiple clinical areas along the way.”
Inspired by Sheila’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.