After graduating high school, Gini Sprague went off to Rutgers University. But the 18-year-old New Jersey native didn’t know what she wanted to do and left school to take some time to figure things out. “I ended up back home at a vocational school and decided to become a Licensed Practical Nurse,” says Gini. The career choice worked well for her life, as she went on to get married and raise a family. For 27 years, Gini worked in the emergency room and in long-term care, always working her schedule around her family needs.
An opportunity turned life change
In 2003, Gini got a foot in the door at Shore Memorial Hospital. In fact, she was the last LPN hired in the emergency department “fast-track” unit before the hospital started requiring the BSN. “I got really lucky,” she says. A colleague and friend encouraged Gini to go back to school to become a Registered Nurse and she knew it was important for her long-term career. She went to the local community college and graduated with an A.A.S. degree in 2009. That same year, Gini was moved into the full emergency department as an RN.
Growing her experience
For the next several years, Gini gained experience as a vascular access nurse for a home healthcare organization. She joined Atlanticare Regional Medical Center in 2012 as an emergency room nurse and took a position at a specialty hospital in 2016, a role she still fulfills today one day a week. “I really love my experiences in nursing,” Gini says. “But the ER is a difficult job, even if you love it. It’s hard on you emotionally and physically.” In 2015, Gini moved to Atlanticare’s recovery department, where she cares for anesthesia patients.
Inspired to earn a BSN
Shortly after her move to the recovery department, Gini decided it was time to return to school once again—and she convinced a coworker to join her in the endeavor. “With the push for all nurses to become BSN prepared by 2020, I knew it was important,” she says. Gini heard about American Sentinel University from several other nurses at Atlanticare—the organization is an educational partner—and decided to explore the university’s BSN program for herself. “I’m not in a place in my life where I can go to class in person several days a week. This program was ideal for me and came recommended.” Gini enrolled in 2015.
Today, Gini admits that the BSN program was more involved and challenging than she imagined. “I took three classes and I think I was just overwhelmed,” she says. “With my schedule, it just wasn’t working for me.” When her student success advisor encouraged her to look at the SIMPath® BSN program, which allows students to complete competencies at their own pace to earn credit toward their BSN. “That worked so much better for me. Thanks to the flexibility of that program I was able to make this goal a reality.”
In addition to the great support she has received from her colleagues at work and her employer, Gini is grateful to her husband and grown children for their constant support. But there’s one other person who has inspired many of her life decisions in the last 13 years: her brother, who passed away in 2005. “He was my biggest fan and always told me how smart I was, even though he was the smartest person I knew,” she says. “The person cheering me on most of all is definitely him. He taught me to set goals and work toward them.”
A bright future
Gini hopes to complete her SIMPath® course work in 2019 and graduate in June. Although she’s happy in her current role, she hopes that the BSN credential will strengthen her resume. “I know that the bachelor’s degree has made me a more thoughtful professional who asks questions and has a broader perspective,” she says. “I’m excited that doing this will earn me respect and open doors.”
Inspired by Gini’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.