When someone looks at Erin Hewitt’s life from the outside, it doesn’t seem possible that she could fit in school.
The mother of five—four of whom are still at home—spends her days at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, an HCA Healthcare facility, where she is the manager of clinical applications. Her evenings and weekends are filled with driving kids to swim, soccer, baseball and football; helping them with homework; volunteering in the children’s ministry at her church; and working toward the BSN and MSN at American Sentinel University.
“When I decided to go back to school, I had this vision of plodding through it, but I’ve honestly been surprised by how much fun I’m having,” says Erin, who has lived all her life in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she’s raising her family today. “I used to think I should have gone back to school years ago after getting the ADN, but I’m actually glad it worked out this way. I have experience to draw from that makes the school experience that much richer.”
Med-surg for 13 years, now IT
For the first 13 years of Erin’s career, she worked in the medical-surgical telemetry unit—10 years at Mary Washington Healthcare, then three at Spotsylvania Regional Medical, where she is today. In 2015, she had the opportunity to get into an educational role in which she trains newly hired nurses on the Meditech electronic health records system. “I’m comfortable with computers and I’ve always been interested in the IT side of healthcare,” she says. “I enjoy that teaching piece, helping the doctors, nurses, and other users figure out how to use the system the best way possible.”
Nudged toward school
In late 2017, Erin was getting a bit of “positive peer pressure” at Spotsylvania Regional Medical to go back to school. “People were saying, ‘HCA is an educational partner and will help with tuition,’” she recalls. American Sentinel came to the hospital to share more about its programs, and Erin liked what she learned. “I decided if I was going to go back for the BSN, why not do the bridge program to be able to get an MSN as well?” By February 2018, Erin was enrolled and on her way.
A fit from the start
Erin will graduate with the BSN in 2019 and the MSN, nursing informatics specialization, in 2021. “I love that I can schedule school around my life,” she says. “That way, I minimize time away from my family and I’m able to do a class at a time.” The informatics specialization is giving Erin new perspective on her role in the IT-in-healthcare landscape. “I’m enjoying the fact that my classes are lining up really well with what I do in my job.”
Plans for the future
Since moving into her position as manager of clinical applications—a job in which she acts as the liaison between clinicians, physicians and the information management team—Erin has discovered that informatics is where she’d like to stay. “I’m really liking the hands-on nature of what I do, the ability to help with advanced clinicals and all kinds of different things,” she says. One day, she hopes to blend her love of teaching others and passion for nursing to teach online.
With her BSN almost done and her eyes on the path forward toward her MSN, Erin says she’s grateful to her family and her colleagues for all the support. “Our organization feels like a family environment, and everyone is cheering me on—and many others are going back to school too,” she says. “And my husband and kids have been absolutely awesome. My kids see me working hard and they know it is for a good reason.”
Inspired by Erin’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, or infection control. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. 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.