Inspired by several family members who work in medicine, Valerie Daniels headed straight for nursing school right after high school, graduating with an associate degree in 2008. “Science and those types of subjects came easily to me in classes,” says Valerie, who has lived all her life near Flintstone, Georgia. During nursing school, she worked as a CNA, and once she graduated, started working as a Registered Nurse on the cardiac medical surgical floor at CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ten years later, Valerie is still with the not-for-profit healthcare organization that serves Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia.
In 2010, Valerie decided to gain additional experience by taking on a second job with Siskin Hospital for Rehabilitation. There, she worked with stroke victims and patients who had experienced traumatic injuries or serious accidents. “It was a great experience and really taught me so much about the power of patient care,” she says. “We had patients come in unconscious and then be able to walk out on their own three months later.”
After that experience, Valerie decided to think about going back to school. “It seemed like good timing in my career to bolster my resume,” she says. “I knew that there was a push across the nursing industry for nurses to hold BSN degrees. I didn’t want to be held back.”
Finding American Sentinel University
Valerie learned about American Sentinel University’s BSN program through an online search. She liked the structure of the courses and the “positive feel” she came away with after every conversation with a university staff member. In 2012, Valerie began the program. “It was definitely worthwhile,” she says. “The BSN gave me different perspective and taught me why certain issues matter on a more global level—things I wouldn’t have really had an understanding about working at the bedside.” In 2013, she graduated with the BSN, ready to seize any opportunities that came her way.
Waiting for the right thing
In 2017, an infection prevention specialist position opened up at her hospital and Valerie was encouraged to apply. “It’s an area that interests me a lot because there’s so much respect for the role in our organization,” she says. In May, Valerie was hired for the position, stepping away from the bedside after 10 years. Excited, nervous, and ready for the chance to expand her skills, she adds that after just a month, she missed working with patients. “I decided to work the floor two weekends a month to stay connected. I think doing so reminds me in my infection prevention job what nurses are actually dealing with each day.”
Next challenge: MSN, Infection Prevention and Control
In her new role, Valerie has been encouraged to earn Certification in Infection Prevention and Control, but she has her eye on another goal as well. “I’d actually been thinking about earning the MSN and looking at schools with infection prevention and control as a specialization and realized that American Sentinel had exactly that program,” she says. Valerie enrolled at her alma mater in the MSN, infection prevention and control specialization, in September 2017. She plans to graduate in early 2019.
“I’m really excited about doing this,” says Valerie, who is now a mother of three and whose husband is also in school. “I hope the MSN will help me learn more about my new role and position me to take on new challenges that come along.” Another important reason behind her pursuit, Valerie adds, is her children. “I keep in my mind all the time that this isn’t just for me. I want to show my children that education is important and that to progress in life, you should never stop learning.”
Inspired by Valerie’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.