When Queen Onwuteaka was a young girl growing up in Nigeria, she was always intrigued by nursing. Her uncle and aunt, who lived in Chicago, practice as a doctor and nurse practitioner, and encouraged her to consider the career path. She became a nurse and a midwife in Nigeria before moving to the United States in 2006, by way of Maryland. “It took a while to transfer my transcripts so I could take the board exam here and get my Registered Nurse license,” says Queen. In 2008, she got her RN credentials and started work at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Frederick, Maryland.
For much of her early career, Queen worked in med-surg for Frederick Memorial and George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. In 2011, she moved into case management and soon landed at Prince Georges Health Department HIV/AIDS Clinic. “I really love helping people who are sick and an important part of that, I discovered, is in case management,” says Queen. “In my job, I link patients to services and coordinate with their care delivery. I love it.”
Inspired to get a BSN
Almost as soon as she joined Frederick Memorial and George Washington University Hospital, Queen decided it was time to work on her BSN. “I had the intention of going back to school for nursing when I very first came to the United States,” she says. Once settled in a career she loved, she started researching online schools, knowing that a brick-and-mortar school would be difficult with her busy schedule and life. “I came across American Sentinel University and was so impressed with the people I talked to.”
Queen enrolled in the BSN program in 2012. “The advisors were wonderful and guided me through every class and every step of the way,” she says. Although health issues made it challenging to get to the finish line, Queen graduated in 2015.
Next step: MSN
Queen’s experience in the American Sentinel BSN program was so positive, she decided after graduation to continue on for an MSN, nursing management and organizational leadership specialization. “A master’s degree on my resume makes me more marketable and opens more options,” Queen says. “One day, I’d like to work with a federal government agency, and having the MSN will allow me to do that.”
Reaching the finish line
In November 2018, Queen graduated from American Sentinel with her second degree: an MSN, nursing management and organizational leadership specialization. The milestone means more to her than simply an academic achievement. “I am the first person in my immediately family of 10 children to get a bachelor’s degree,” she says. “I had acute heart failure during my BSN program. This didn’t come easy, but I’m so glad I got here.”
To other students facing challenges along the way, she says to keep working. “There were times I wanted to give up, but I knew that I could not and I had great support from my husband, my five-year-old twins and American Sentinel. At American Sentinel, you’ll get the support you need. The school is structured in a way that you will learn and achieve, and they will never let you fail.”
Inspired by Queen’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or case management. 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.