Emily Toczydlowski graduated high school knowing she wanted to go into nursing. With several family members who are nurses and a propensity for helping people, the career appealed to her from a young age. She participated in a high school career training program and became a Certified Nurse Assistant as a senior.
“I always liked the idea of helping people and started working at Spectrum Health when I graduated and taking classes at Grand Rapids Community College,” says Emily, who is from Sparta, Michigan, just 30 minutes from Grand Rapids. Emily transferred into a unit secretary position in the post-partum area and held the job for five years while finishing up nursing school.
ADN in 2016
After a lot of hard work and dedication, Emily graduated with her nursing degree in 2016. She accepted a job in an urgent care facility, where she assessed, screened and triaged patients with a range of problems. In 2017, she moved to Cherry Health, where she had completed her last clinical rotation in nursing school. She started in employee health, then moved into internal medicine triage.
As her career progressed, Emily came to a realization: she needed the bachelor’s degree. “Since I was a secretary at Spectrum, I knew that as a Magnet facility, nurses need to hold BSN degrees,” she says. “That’s becoming the minimum education level and I do not want to be left behind.” Emily started asking colleagues what schools they recommended and learned about American Sentinel University’s SIMPath® program, in which nursing students can learn at their own pace and leverage their skills and knowledge to complete as many competencies as they want to in 16-week terms.
“That really sold me,” says Emily, who has a 16-month-old son. “I liked the structure of this program and the fact that I could work at my pace. I work, I have a son and I have a busy life. Flexibility was important for me.” She started the SIMPath program in October 2018 and will graduate with the BSN in September 2019.
A new opportunity
In March 2019, Emily was offered the chance to blend her clinical experience with an administrative role. She is now a clinical operations coordinator, a role in which she will assist with oversight of the daily operations of Cherry Health, including training staff on biomedical equipment, infection prevention and control practices, and more. “I’m excited to try something different, to go out to all our different facilities and increase my administrative duties,” Emily says.
Looking to the future
Long term, Emily hopes that holding the BSN will allow her to continue to move up into management positions—and perhaps into a director of nursing role one day. An MSN might be in her future. “Everything in the BSN SIMPath has been really great so far,” she says. “I think if I’d known that doing this isn’t that scary, I would have gone back to school for the BSN a long time ago. I’m just happy to have it in process now!”
Inspired by Emily’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 BSN, MSN or DNP? With American Sentinel, you can make that dream a reality.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.