After Steve Finelli graduated high school in the small town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, he admits he thought he had it all figured out. “I started college, left with intentions to go into the military, and eventually got a job in retail, working my way up into management over the course of many years,” says Steve. After his third child was born and a move to Florida, the timing seemed right to make a change.
In Florida, Steve decided to follow in the footsteps of his father, a barber. He went to beauty school and worked as a hairstylist for 10 years. Later, life changes pushed Steve to revisit the idea of returning to college. “It turned out I only had a few classes left to actually finish my bachelor’s degree,” he says. “It’s something I thought about doing for a long time, and with my kids getting older, seemed like it was becoming even more important. So, I finally went for it.”
Steve returned to Fort Hayes State University—by then in his early 40s—and got a bachelor’s in sociology, followed by a master’s in psychology from Capella University in 2015. “Really what I wanted was to find a career where I could help people.”
For years, Steve—also a longtime volunteer firefighter—had considered nursing as a possible career. “I grew up around nurses, including my mother, several aunts, and several family friends,” he says. After completing his master’s, he adjusted his plans to continue on for a doctorate and instead enrolled in nursing school at Southern Technical College. Steve graduated in fall 2017.
With his Registered Nurse credentials in hand, Steve started applying for jobs and was lucky enough to gain acceptance into the HCA Healthcare facility, Fawcett Memorial Hospital. Steve joined the StaRN (Specialty Training Apprenticeship for Registered Nurses) program, which transitions new nurses from the classroom into the clinical setting. After completing the yearlong clinical orientation and professional development program, Steve joined the progressive care unit at Fawcett Memorial as an RN.
American Sentinel University’s SIMPath® Program
Through HCA’s educational partnership with American Sentinel, Steve learned about the SIMPath® program, which lets students complete online competencies at their own pace instead of structured traditional classes. “I know there will be a time in the very near future that I will not be eligible for jobs without holding a BSN,” Steve says. “I want to further my education as quickly as I can.”
Steve started his competency-based education program at American Sentinel in 2018. “It really was a great fit for my situation,” he says. “I’m highly motivated to complete the BSN and continue moving forward.” One day, in fact, Steve would like to teach online. “My gut is telling me that my next degree will be an MSN Nursing Education. It’s a goal I have for 2019 to start that next.”
Laying out his future
When Steve does go to graduate school, he’s likely to return to American Sentinel. “The university’s entire staff works hard to make things smooth for you,” he says. “I’ve told everyone I encounter at my hospital that American Sentinel is where they should go. You’ll get a great education at a fair price. It’s a university where you will be supported.”
No matter where his career takes him, Steve is excited about where he is today. “First and foremost, I want to keep getting more nursing experience,” he says. “And one day, I’d like to give back to the nursing field by teaching. I love the idea of helping the next generation of nurses prepare for their careers.”
Inspired by Steve’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.