When Jessica Todd graduated high school in her small Illinois town, her future looked bright. She earned a full-ride scholarship to Illinois State University, where she started out as a speech pathology major. But her freshman year, Jessica decided to switch majors—to nursing.
“My mom was a nurse and at age 16, she had me shadow a CRNA,” recalls Jessica. “It must have had a delayed impact, because once I made the change in college, I realized nursing was right for me.” In 2005, she graduated with a BSN. She started her nursing career at Memorial Medical Center, a 500-bed hospital and trauma center, where she worked as a medical/surgical float nurse. After marrying her husband in 2007, Jessica moved to Missouri, where she continued her career. She became a critical care nurse and she and her husband started a family.
University of Missouri Healthcare
In 2009, Jessica got a foot in the door at University of Missouri Healthcare, where she started in the burn intensive care unit. “I worked in the intensive care unit after that and as a float nurse, I’d often go all over,” she says. She discovered a love for the emergency room and spent time as an educator for the ER, a service line specialist and eventually a clinic nursing supervisor. “As much as I loved the ER, leaving there allowed me to go back to school. I’d tried to go back before, but as a mom of three children and a full-time nurse, it was just too difficult.” In fact, Jessica started and stopped twice in an MSN program at the University of Missouri.
Discovering American Sentinel University
Jessica was still itching to finish what she’d started when she heard several coworkers talk about their experiences at American Sentinel University. “Everything I was hearing sounded great to me,” she says. “The professors, the affordability, the eight-week classes. It was time for me to finally make this happen. I was thinking about management and I didn’t want not having my master’s degree to hold me back.”
She started the MSN, nursing leadership specialization, in January 2016—but quickly changed to the informatics specialization. Several months later, she transitioned to a role in health IT with the company that was working with MU Healthcare employees to manage the EHR and other technology solutions—while helping improve patient outcomes. Jessica made the change in September 2016 “I feel that I have an impact on patient outcomes more than I ever have in any other nursing role,” she says. “It’s important for clinicians who understand bedside nursing to be in roles like this.” Naturally, she switched her MSN specialization to nursing informatics.
After lots of hard work, Jessica graduated with the MSN in July 2017. Her school work proved highly applicable to her job as a senior clinical informaticist and helped her prepare to pass the Informatics Nursing certification exam in January 2018.
In June 2018, Jessica had another exciting opportunity arise: a new position within her company as application manager. She will manage an IT applications team at an MU affiliate health system and help them implement new EMR. “I’m very excited about how things have come together,” she says. With her MSN under her belt and a great new job, Jessica is even thinking about more school in the future. “I’ve considered going back for the MBA to gain that business side of things. Education helps open doors, so why stop here? We will see what the future holds for me.”
Inspired by Jessica’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.