When Dana White was growing up in Virginia, she grew close to an aunt who was a nurse. “I remember playing nurse when I was a kid to be like her,” says Dana. “I’ve always had those traits that a nurse has: a people person, a caregiver, a nurturer.” After graduating high school, Dana went to Petersburg General Hospital School of Professional Nursing and graduated in 1985.
Medical-surgical, the operating room and the Emergency Department
Dana started her career in medical-surgical before moving into the operating room at Petersburg General for six years. In 1993, she joined HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services made up of locally managed facilities across the U.S. and in the U.K. She has been with HCA Healthcare ever since.
Until 2013, Dana was an Emergency Department nurse at HCA Healthcare’s Chippenham Hospital and John Randolph Medical Center, both in Virginia. She also became a clinical coordinator. In 2013, Dana had the opportunity to try something new and became the director of skilled care at Colonial Heights Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, where she later served as interim director of nursing. But she missed the ER—and HCA Healthcare. “I knew that my heart was in acute care,” she says. “HCA Healthcare is a place that offers so much opportunity. What brought me back was the integrity of the organization.” Dana rejoined HCA Healthcare at the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center in 2015 as director of medical-surgical.
Her turn for education
For years, Dana had considered going back to school for the BSN, and even made herself a promise that she would get her bachelor’s degree once her two children graduated high school and were on their way toward their own career goals. But the push really came when a friend and colleague gave her a nudge. “She knew that the bachelor’s was going to become an expectation since I was at the director level, and encouraged me to start researching programs,” says Dana.
When Dana learned that HCA Healthcare is an educational partner of American Sentinel University, she looked into the university—and liked what she learned about the BSN program. Several coworkers had enjoyed great experiences at American Sentinel as well, so Dana decided to take the plunge herself. She began classes in September 2016, also accepting a position as director of emergency services, a role that required a bachelor’s degree. For Christmas that year, her children gave her a laptop with a note that read, “Mom, now it’s your turn.”
Ignited a spark
Being back in school has ignited a spark of excitement in Dana. “The BSN has taught me how to better understand the importance of evidence-based practice,” she says. “There’s nothing more important! It’s also really gotten me thinking about things like teaching online one day and finding ways to contribute to my organization. Formal education makes us better leaders. I know that doing this has prepared me for the leadership challenges ahead.”
Dana will graduate with the BSN in June 2019, completing her final class on her son’s birthday (she began her first BSN class on her daughter’s birthday just over three years ago). She’s considered continuing on for an MSN as well, but wants to savor her accomplishment. “I don’t want to just check this off a bucket list,” she says. Dana’s aunt, who was her inspiration for becoming a nurse in the first place, got her BSN last year too. “Really, this was a journey and getting the BSN was a big milestone in that journey.”
Inspired by Dana’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.