Q&A with American Sentinel’s MSN Chair

What is your nursing background?

Melissa Penner

Melissa Penner, DNP, MATL, RN, CNE
Chair, MSN Program
Associate Professor of Nursing

I gained experience as a Certified Nurse Aide and an LPN in the long-term care setting. As an RN, I worked in the office and surgery with an ophthalmologist. We performed eye and plastic surgeries in three communities. My experience also includes working at a Level I Trauma Center in the 22 suite Operating Room. I was a member of the Ortho team, however we scrubbed and circulated for all specialty cases. I had the opportunity to work with an early generation of the Da Vinci robot for pediatric and bariatric cases.  When I returned to school to pursue my BSN, I transferred to the adult Emergency Department.

Upon earning my BSN, I started teaching Fundamentals in a brand new PN program. In time, I became the campus Director of Nursing.  I was promoted to the Simulation and Clinical sites Manager, where I lead the implementation of a simulation program for 16 campus-based pre-licensure programs across the nation and integrated simulation into the online curriculum of the BSN, MSN and DNP programs.  I have been teaching full time at American Sentinel for 6 years in the BSN program. I am pleased to have been recently promoted to Chair of our MSN program.

What are you most looking forward to doing in your program chair role?

I look forward to collaborating with students, colleagues, leaders and stakeholders to generate ideas and discuss feedback to continue to improve our program offerings.  I am so inspired by the expansive projects and solutions applied in class work that represent positive evidence-based change that can immediately influence practice. I hope to meet you in Denver at graduation!

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I was drawn to healthcare because I wanted to help the hospital feel less scary for patients.  I was hospitalized at 3 years old for six weeks and had several follow up appoints into my teen years.  My interest in nursing was sparked by my days volunteering at the Iowa Veterans Home as a Girl Scout.    

Where do you live?

Central Iowa. Go HAWKS.

What fictional place would you most like to go?

I’ve always wanted to go to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, however I am really trying to live a healthier life style.  So, let’s get in the thingamajig and go to Whoville.

What are some small things that make your day better?

Fresh air, sunshine, water, laughter, structure, and my three little children.  Not so small things 😊

Online MSN Program

Earning your Master of Science in Nursing is more than a way to advance your career.

It’s an opportunity for you to shine. You get to develop expertise in an area that interests you, choosing from seven specializations, each in high demand. American Sentinel’s online MSN program is CCNE – accredited, and 100% online, giving you the flexibility you need to balance work, school and home. Learn more about our MSN program.