When Chris Raup started nursing school right out of high school, she didn’t realize it, but she was setting the stage for something of a family tradition. Taking care of people came naturally to Chris, the oldest of five children who grew up in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. She started her nursing career at Geisinger Medical Center in 1990 as a staff nurse in the adult inpatient physical rehabilitation facility. Soon, she started working with pediatric patients.
“You can’t describe the feeling you get when you care for children and their families,” says Chris, who worked in inpatient pediatrics and was a core staff nurse for the pediatric recovery room at Geisinger for many years before becoming the resuscitation program educator in 2016. “One thing I’ve loved about nursing is the opportunity to do so many different things. The bedside was always rewarding, but education, where I am now, is too.”
Anne (Traugh), Chris’s younger sister by 12 years, looked up to Chris, but didn’t go to nursing school immediately. She was educated as a medical assistant in 2003 and got a foot in the door—thanks to Chris’ recommendation—as a desk clerk in the pediatric intensive care unit at Geisinger. “Chris mothered me in a lot of ways, so it was definitely influential to see her career in pediatric nursing flourishing,” says Anne. Soon, she started nursing school herself, graduating in 2006. She joined the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) thereafter, where she has been ever since.
Motivated to get a BSN
Despite their age difference, Chris and Anne concluded that furthering their education was important at about the same time. For Chris, it was something she had been considering for many years but presenting at a 2012 national Magnet conference was the motivator. “I realized how much I loved to teach about new ideas,” Chris says. She received lots of encouragement from her associate vice president, who told her that the BSN would augment her great accomplishments to date and only open more doors in her career.
At the same time, Chris was aspiring to move into an education role at Geisinger. “I realized that as much as we need great nurses, we also need great leaders and educators,” she says. “I knew I needed my BSN to reach this goal.” She started taking classes at other schools but didn’t enjoy the experience. Colleagues recommended American Sentinel University, an educational partner of Geisinger, and when Chris checked out the university herself, she was impressed. She started the BSN in early 2014 and graduated in 2016. Months later, an opportunity to work in Geisinger’s new resuscitation program as an educator arose, and Chris decided to go for it.
A “together” pursuit
Anne was in the same boat as her sister, with a team coordinator job in the PACU opening up that required a BSN. “I applied and was named the interim coordinator until I earned the BSN,” Anne says. On the advice of Chris, she explored American Sentinel and followed in her sister’s footsteps, starting classes in fall 2016.
“American Sentinel is a great program and really fits the lifestyle of a busy nurse,” Anne says. “The workload is manageable, and the curriculum is very relevant.” Anne “fast-tracked” her way to the finish line, graduating in just 15 months—December 2017. Once she had that BSN behind her name, she was officially named the perioperative team coordinator in January 2018.
Supporting one another
Chris and Anne overlapped in school by about a year, cheering each other on along the way. “I went before Anne, so I told her all the time, ‘You can do this!’” Chris says. “I think Anne saw that I was getting through school and that it was doable, and it encouraged her to believe she could do it. We were good moral support for each other.”
The women admit that they must have “started something,” in their family. Chris’s 25-year-old daughter is an intensive care nurse and their niece is currently in nursing school. Anne’s children are elementary-school aged, and she says that seeing their mom in school is meaningful for them. “They see me working hard, and just like I admired Chris growing up, I think they appreciate that I’m bettering myself to advance my career,” she says. Anne’s next goal is to earn an MSN, nursing leadership and organizational management, at American Sentinel.
Chris too is considering the MSN—and American Sentinel would be at the top of her list if she followed her younger sister’s lead. For now, however, she’s basking in her BSN success. “I’m very happy I got the BSN, because it helped me attain the type of position I’ve always wanted.”
Inspired by Chris and Anne’s stories? 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.