At the age of 19, Summer Haywood moved from Michigan to Alabama, where she became a Certified Nurse Assistant. After getting laid off, she received funding through the Alabama Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to return to school for an associate degree in nursing at Chattahoochee Valley Community College. Summer became a Registered Nurse in 2003.
“I enjoyed taking care of people,” says Summer. However, she also had an interest in criminal justice and while working in a nursing home, pursued a B.S. from Faulkner University, graduating in 2008. Summer considered law school but couldn’t imagine leaving healthcare. She started working with veterans, but eventually moved into travel nursing, where she did a little of everything: medical/surgical, intensive care, emergency, hospice and home health.
Landing in Georgia
Eventually, Summer ended up in Georgia, where she worked for an agency that had her doing primarily medical/surgical telemetry and working in the emergency room. When a full-time opportunity doing the same popped up at Jasper Memorial Hospital in Monticello, Summer jumped at it. “We are the smallest hospital in the state of Georgia,” says Summer, who is the night shift rehabilitation nurse but also fills in in the emergency room when needed. “I love it here. The community is small and special and I’ve come to really appreciate serving a tight-knit, rural population.”
Earning the BSN: A natural step
With healthcare changing rapidly, Summer says that for a while, she has been looking forward to broadening her scope through further education. “I actually searched for the right online BSN program in 2016, but I was an agency nurse at the time, so my schedule wasn’t as stable,” says Summer. After waiting for the right time, Summer decided on American Sentinel’s RN to BSN program—which especially appealed to her because of the SIMPath® program that allows students to complete online competencies, not courses.
“That really sealed the deal for me, because I can do the course work at my own speed,” Summer says. “I really love American Sentinel. My instructors have been great and I appreciate how the program fits the way I learn best, which is independently and at my pace.”
Next step: Family Nurse Practitioner
After she graduates in 2018 from American Sentinel, Summer plans to apply to an online Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner program. “American Sentinel has given me the tools to succeed, and I’m reinvigorated and energized about taking my career to the next level,” she says. “There’s so much going on in nursing, and I want to be a part of it.”
Summer is so excited about school that she’s even thinking about taking her studies to the terminal level and one day returning to American Sentinel for the Doctor of Nursing Practice. “I just want to keep going,” she says. “I tell every nurse I know who is thinking about any kind of degree to look at American Sentinel. It’s been an excellent choice and a phenomenal experience.”
Inspired by Summer’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.