When Connie Schroeder graduated from high school, she went to secretarial school and worked as a secretary for a few years. But after meeting and marrying her husband, who encouraged her to consider the field of nursing, she switched gears, earning a practical nursing certificate, followed by a nursing diploma in 1983.
“I discovered my passion,” says Connie, who has lived in Milford, Illinois, her whole life. She started her career at Iroquois Memorial Hospital, where she stayed for 12 years, working primarily in the emergency room. When the opportunity to teach at Danville Area Community College’s School of Nursing arose in 1995, Connie jumped at it. “Teaching had always interested me, so I eventually transitioned away from the hospital to teach full time.” Along the way, she earned a BSN at Lakeview College of Nursing in Danville and an MSN from Governors State University.
Climbing the ladder
During her career at Danville Area Community College, Connie had the chance to work as director of nursing education—the role she held until her retirement in 2012. Once retired, however, Connie didn’t want to give up teaching entirely. She joined Olivet Nazarene University as an adjunct and stayed on at the community college as an ACEN consultant. She also joined Chamberlain College of Nursing in 2013 as a visiting professor in the RN to BSN program, a role she holds today.
On the road
Connie’s semi-retired life means that she travels as much as possible while teaching from wherever she happens to be. “I take my computer with me, teach from the road, and we spend our winters in Florida,” she says. “Teaching online keeps me fulfilled, and I can do it from anywhere.”
Getting a doctorate entered Connie’s mind when three nurse colleagues started Doctor of Nursing Practice programs of their own. “It was something I’d been thinking about for a long time, but I wanted to find the right program.” Eventually, she discovered American Sentinel University.
DNP Educational Leadership
When Connie met an American Sentinel representative at an educator conference in Las Vegas, she knew immediately that the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership was the program for her. “It felt like a sign, and I really liked the educational leadership specialization,” she says. She enrolled in October 2017—taking advantage of the military tuition discount, because her husband (whom she calls her “biggest cheerleader”) is a Vietnam veteran. She will graduate in October 2019. Connie’s capstone is focused on simulation lab faculty and self-efficacy.
The online structure of the DNP Educational Leadership program fits Connie’s life. “I wouldn’t be in a doctorate program right now if it wasn’t an online program,” she says. “It has been great and a program I’m really comfortable with, having taught online for 11 years now. I was up for the challenge, but I’ve definitely had to work for it.”
Future goal: Keep teaching
Connie admits that nobody forced her to earn a doctorate, but she wanted to. “My goal is to be able to continue teaching online at any level,” she says. “I really believe that the better educated the nurse, the better the patient outcomes. I love this program and believe that it is preparing me for a great future.”
Inspired by Connie’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.