As the daughter of a soldier, Karen Rose moved to El Paso, Texas, during grade school, where she volunteered as a candy striper for two years. “I really liked the hospital setting, and decided I would pursue nursing in college,” says Karen, who started her career in medical-surgical nursing after earning the BSN at the University of Texas El Paso in 1999. She did travel nursing for three years thereafter, and eventually ended up working for the Department of the Army. Her husband has served in the military for nearly 35 years.
Wounded Warrior transition brigade
In 2007, Karen became a permanent employee with the federal government and she joined the Warrior Wounded Transition Brigade from 2011 to 2014. “I really like working with patients who have been through something difficult and having the opportunity to help them and their families,” she says. She spent time as a nurse clinical case manager for the William Beaumont Army Medical Center and held several roles with the Veterans Health Care Clinic as well.
Time for a challenge
In early 2017, Karen decided it was time to challenge herself in a new way: by going back to school. “It’d been in the back of my head for many years, while my husband was deployed, that I might earn a master’s degree, but the timing wasn’t ever right,” says Karen. However, once her husband took a position in the Pentagon in Virginia, she started thinking more seriously about the idea. At a case management conference, she encountered American Sentinel University.
“American Sentinel was great from the start,” says Karen, who had even started an MSN program at a different online university in 2016 but was finding its platform to be less than user-friendly. “My student success advisor was patient and wonderful and walked me through everything.” In January 2017, she started her first class in the MSN Case Management program. She hopes to graduate in late 2018.
Planning her future
With her work experience and MSN degree, Karen hopes to pursue management as her career goes forward. “I think with master’s credentials I’ll be more prepared to do that and to make a greater difference for the patients we serve,” she says. In fact, it was that inspiration that pushed Karen to take a nurse case manager position with Sterling Medical in Fort Bliss, Texas, in December 2017. “This job is different than any other I’ve ever had, but I really enjoy it. We help soldiers get ready for worldwide deployment and those returning with medical concerns or conditions. It feels like an important role.”
Enjoying the learning stage
Now more than halfway through her MSN Case Management, Karen says she’s enjoying the program so much, she just might keep going when she graduates. “We’ll see how I feel, but I surprised myself with how much I’m liking being a student again,” she says. “My view is that this MSN will help me no matter what, but it’s also something that nobody can ever take away from me. Education is never wasted, opens many doors and create many opportunities.”
Inspired by Karen’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like case management, 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.