Since Deborah Deemer was a little girl, she’s always wanted to be a nurse. But after marrying young and starting her family shortly thereafter, she waited until the time was right to go after her dream—when her youngest child started kindergarten. Deborah graduated from Edison Community College in Fort Myers, Florida, in 1987 and began her career as an office nurse. “I started in an ear, nose, throat doctor’s office, and then got to tag along in the operating room for surgeries,” says Deborah. She stayed in the OR for four years.
Open to all opportunities
As Deborah’s career evolved, she stayed open to new opportunities—always eager to learn. That willingness to try new things led her to a plastic surgeon’s office on the IV team, an oncology office, and a home infusion company. Her husband’s job moved the couple around the country, so Deborah worked PRN in the operating room. She even gained experience in education as the nurse educator for an ambulatory center.
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital
In 1996, Deborah settled in Virginia Beach, became certified as an operating nurse and nurse educator for perioperative nursing, and joined Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. She spent a number of years in the OR before moving into outpatient pain management. In 2013, when her parents became ill, she took leave to care for them out of state. Deborah was able to return to the hospital five months later, but had to agree to earn a BSN.
“The hospital has magnet status and to get rehired, I had to agree to get the BSN within five years,” Deborah says. Then in her 50s, she was resistant to the idea, but with many years at Sentara under her belt at that point, she recognized the importance of furthering her education.
Finding American Sentinel University
As an educational partner of Sentara, American Sentinel University came onto Deborah’s radar through her company newsletter. She and three other employees decided to take the back-to-school plunge together, and she enrolled in her first class in 2016. And although Sentara waived its BSN requirement for employees over the age of 55 when Deborah was in her fourth class, she opted to continue.
“I had really come to enjoy school and was surprised by how much I was learning,” Deborah says. “At that point, I didn’t want to stop. I figured I have the support of my employer and I’m learning so much.” Deborah forged ahead, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. “It’s been a rewarding experience for me overall.” Deborah is finishing her final classes and hopes to graduate by January 2019.
Goals for the future
Deborah says that she has gained new perspectives and knowledge throughout her BSN program. “I’m inspired in new ways,” she says. “I’ve learned about so many issues and it makes me realize that educating myself helps my patients. By bettering myself as a nurse, I can help change American health care.”
She has set new goals for herself too. “I would like to move into management or leadership, and I’m seriously considering continuing my education and getting an MSN,” Deborah says. “Even though I haven’t decided where I’m headed next in my career, I know that education will open doors for me. That’s been the best surprise of all of this.”
Inspired by Deborah’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.
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