Arkansas NICU Nurse Works Toward MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

When Lettie Taylor became pregnant at the age of 17, her first emotion was fear. “I wasn’t sure what I was trying to do or be, but I certainly wasn’t trying to be a mom yet,” she says. One thing Lettie was certain of, however, was that she still had dreams and goals, and she wasn’t going to give up on them—even if motherhood was suddenly her first priority. She earned the GED and went on to become a Nurse Aide and started taking nursing school prerequisites at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

The start of a career in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

In 1999, Lettie got a job at Arkansas Children’s Hospital as a unit secretary in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Being in the environment, she started to grow interested in NICU nursing and enrolled in nursing school in 2001. She transitioned to a lactation tech job in the NICU while in school and after earning a nursing diploma and becoming a Registered Nurse in 2004, became an RN in the same unit. “I fell in love with the patient population and the work,” says Lettie. 

Continuing her education was important to her as well. While at Children’s, the hospital became a Magnet hospital and all diploma nurses were encouraged to earn bachelor’s degrees. Lettie started a BSN program at University of Arkansas at Little Rock and graduated in 2014. 

Expanding horizons

As much as she enjoyed her job, after nine years, Lettie decided to make a change, seeking a slower pace. She became a case manager at Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, working with mothers with high risk pregnancies and/or babies admitted to the NICU. Soon, Lettie missed the bedside, however. “About a year and a half later, I went back to the bedside, switching from AR Children’s to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as a NICU nurse once again,” she says. Today, Lettie continues to work for UAMS. 

Along the way, Lettie started thinking about earning an MSN. “Honestly, my goal was to earn a master’s a long time ago, but I took a break after the BSN and once you stop, it can be hard to start back again,” she says. Eventually, Lettie applied to an MSN program, but was devastated not to be accepted. “I got discouraged, but after a little time, I told myself I would not let that road block stop me.”

Discovering American Sentinel University

Lettie started doing more research on online MSN programs and was referred to American Sentinel University by a colleague who was earning the Doctor of Nursing Practice. She was drawn to the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner, knowing it would boost her career options at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “The NP is a great path and I know it will open up a lot of opportunities,” she says. “There were many things about American Sentinel that I liked, including the ability to take one class at a time and the structure of the program.” Lettie started the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner in July 2018. “The program looked awesome when I was researching and it has lived up to my expectations. I’m growing as a person and nurse.” 

Plans for the future

Lettie hopes to expand her horizons with the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner degree and is open to the idea of exploring career options outside of the NICU. “I’d love to go into a clinic to work with a physician as a partner or find a rural community with a need where I could make a difference,” she says. One day, Lettie adds, she might like to teach online. 

Proud of where she is

Lettie’s four children are all grown now, and she is a proud grandmother of two. One of her daughters is starting to work toward becoming a nurse. “She has seen what a great career it is,” she says. “Life is all what you make it. When I was younger, I never envisioned my life would be what it is today but I’m very proud and very grateful.” 

Inspired by Lettie’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. Have you dreamed of earning your BSNMSN or DNP? With American Sentinel, you can make that dream a reality.  

Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.