Nursing wasn’t Christy Simpson’s first career. The Minnesotan started out after high school going to college for a diploma in travel business, working for a corporate travel agency for three years. After having her first child, she spent a few years at home before returning to the workforce in office management roles. In her early 30s, she decided to make a career change.
“I’ve always been a caregiver, and nursing was a longtime interest of mine, but it took a while for me to get there,” says Christy, whose early career was in North Dakota. After a move back to Minnesota, a remarriage, and two more children, the timing was right. Christy started her nursing education at a four-year college, but when she and her family relocated to New Ulm, Minnesota, she transferred to South Central College, earning the LPN in 2007 and the ADN in 2008.
A passion for working with the elderly
In 2006, Christy landed a job at Oak Hills Living Center, a long-term care facility. She’s been with the organization ever since. “I started there as a nursing assistant, and when I became an RN, I was a charge nurse before getting promoted to RN case manager in 2009,” she says. In 2015, Christy became the minimum data set (MDS) coordinator, developing individual care plans for Oak Hill’s residents.
Christy says she’s grateful to have discovered the home for her. “I fell in love with this job,” she says. “I love the facility and I really enjoy working with the elderly population,” she says. In April 2018, she will celebrate 12 years with Oak Hills.
Furthering her education
In summer 2016, Christy and a coworker decided they wanted to earn BSN degrees—and they set out to find a school they would both enjoy. An instructor from her ADN program with whom she was still in touch told Christy about American Sentinel, where she was an adjunct instructor. “From the start, people at American Sentinel were so helpful in sharing all about the program and the classes and getting registered,” she says. With her family behind her and a full-tuition scholarship from her employer in hand, she started in July 2016, eager to build her leadership and management skills. “I knew this degree would help my career as a manager and make sure I’m never left behind since a bachelor’s degree is pretty much required for nurses today.”
Though she was excited to learn, Christy says getting back into school mode for the first time in over a decade was the hard part. “I’m a busy mom who works full time, so it was really about setting aside the time each day,” she says. “I admit that originally, I wasn’t sure how much I could really learn, since I’ve been a nurse for a while. By the second class it was clear—I learned something new with every single class.”
In November 2017, Christy completed her final class, completing her BSN in an impressive 16 months. She plans to celebrate her accomplishment by attending graduation in June 2018. Although she has no plans to leave her home away from home, Oak Hills, she’s excited about what the BSN will do for her career. “I know it will open doors for me,” says Christy, who plans to keep the education momentum going by pursuing certification in wound care. “I am using the knowledge I’ve gained to add value in the role I have now. I think eventually, the BSN will become a requirement in long-term care and definitely for managers.” Another benefit: setting a great example for her children. “My family has been so supportive, and I’m glad I’ve shown my kids that you can fulfill your educational dreams no matter how old you are.”
Inspired by Christy’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.