Tammy Liepe went into nursing originally for practical reasons but found that the profession fit her well. After earning an Associate Degree of Nursing from Atlantic Community College in 1992, Tammy started her career with Atlanticare Regional Medical Center. First, Tammy worked on the medical-surgical floor for six years before moving to the emergency room.
Finding her passion
“I loved the ER,” says Tammy, “The people, the work, the quick pace—it was all really enjoyable for me.” Tammy stayed in the ER for 15 years before switching in 2013 to the cardiovascular intensive care unit. “It was a lot of post-op patients who often were in critical condition. The role was very different and very challenging.”
Two major changes
While the experience in open heart was valuable, in 2017, Tammy decided it was time to make a change after 25 years with Atlanticare. So, she did two things: she accepted a position with the Veteran’s Health Administration as an RN care manager and she enrolled as a student at American Sentinel University.
Time for a BSN
“I was hesitant about school at first because I’m approaching the end of my career, and 25 years ago when I finished my nursing boards, I said I would never go back to school!” she says. “But that positive peer pressure was strong.” Tammy enrolled in the RN to MSN program, earning the BSN first.
Despite some nerves, being back in school was great for Tammy. “At first I thought there might not be much for me to learn in school because I’ve been working for so long,” she admits. “But, wow. Every single class I have learned something new. Now I am one of those people who says all nurses should get the BSN. There’s so much happening in the healthcare industry that I wasn’t even really aware of before, and being in school has opened my eyes to topics like the changing nursing environment, nursing in a global economy and more.”
At the VA, Tammy’s role was to encourage veterans to give their health the attention it deserves. “It’s a different job than being a hospital nurse but also quite rewarding,” she says. “My boss always reminded us that we are privileged to work for the VA. We get to serve these people after they have served us.”
A focus on the finish line
In September 2019, Tammy resigned from the VA to focus on finishing her MSN Nursing Education—she’s just a few courses away. “As I move toward retirement, I’d like to work in a third-world country,” she says. “I’ve worked overseas in recent years, but you’re limited without a bachelor’s degree.”
Whether she returns to the VA or gets a job working full time overseas down the road, Tammy says her hope is to secure her future. “I believe that holding a BSN and MSN will open up doors of opportunity to teach nursing students in underdeveloped countries. I’m excited to do something else that’s good for the world while still working in nursing.”
Inspired by Tammy’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or case management. 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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.