“I wanted to be a nurse ever since I can remember,” says Mary Lynn Dunbar, who grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. “I love people and helping them be the best they can with their health, and I would become a nurse all over again. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to care for others.” While in high school, Mary Lynn worked as a nursing assistant, after high school, she became a Licensed Practical Nurse. In 1985, she earned her associate degree in health sciences – nursing and eventually made her way back to Southwestern Pennsylvania, where she was employed by Indiana Hospital for over 10 years.
Along the way, Mary Lynn was encouraged to consider obtaining her BSN, as she was working as a nursing supervisor in an acute care setting. She enrolled in school, but a few classes into the program, her father passed away unexpectedly. “I told my supervisor at the time that I wanted my BSN, but I needed to take care of my mother,” she says. “I kept thinking that one day maybe I would find a university that appreciates my clinical background as a nurse and some of those classes would transfer into the new program. I decided I would wait until I found that school.”
A cross-country move
In 1999, Mary Lynn met her husband. They were married in 2001 and moved to Kansas City, where he was from. She joined North Kansas City Hospital as a clinical staff nurse, gaining experience in the medical/surgical/telemetry unit and the IV/PICC team. Eventually, she was inspired to become a case manager. “My own journey transitioning my parents during times of illness through the healthcare system and eventually into long-term care, while advocating for them, really caused me to realize that after so many years at the bedside, I wanted to do that for other people,” she says.
For years, Mary Lynn had been thinking about returning for her BSN, and in 2013, she finally decided to take the plunge. She found American Sentinel University and felt it was meant to be. “In today’s healthcare environment, it’s so valuable to learn with, and from others around the country, and you get to do that at American Sentinel,” she says. “I was fearful of school, but once I started, I loved all that I was learning. I learned more than I even thought my brain had capacity for.” To focus on her studies, Mary Lynn left North Kansas City Hospital—after over 12 years with the hospital, seven of which were in case management.
Crossing the finish line
In March 2017, Mary Lynn completed her BSN. She is now ready to return to the workforce and has been applying for different nursing positions while pursuing her Accredited Case Manager Certification, which she earned the 28th of June. Also in June, she walked in American Sentinel’s commencement ceremonies in Denver.
“I am proactively searching and I know that doors I’m meant to walk through will open,” she says. As for taking the time to commit to her education, Mary Lynn says it was well worth it. “I can’t yell loud enough from the mountain tops how important it is to keep up in one’s area of practice and continue learning, whether formal or informal education. If a nurse is looking for flexibility, diversity, thinking and learning outside of the box, American Sentinel is the place to further one’s nursing education. The experience exceeded my expectations.”
Inspired by Mary Lynn’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.