When Mandy Branderhorst was in high school, she was introduced to nursing as a dual enrollment student at her local community college. “The human body always intrigued me and I thought about medicine or nursing, but this was a great way for me to get a start on college affordably,” says Mandy, who is from Bitely, Michigan. After graduating high school, she started working toward her associate degree, taking one class at a time while working full time as a Certified Nursing Assistant. In 2013, she graduated with the Associate Degree of Nursing.
Starting her career
Toward the end of nursing school, Mandy started working as a Licensed Practical Nurse in the hospital setting. Once she graduated and became a Registered Nurse, she tried a few other things, including school nursing and home healthcare. For a while, she worked as a school nurse during the day and did PRN home health visits on weekends or early mornings.
Four years ago, Mandy and her husband moved to Traverse City, where she became a case manager for a home health provider in northern Michigan called Munson Healthcare. While she worked full time, her husband returned to college to earn a bachelor’s degree.
A new chapter
Mandy too laid out academic goals when she joined Munson in 2016. “I had to sign a contract that said I would start my BSN within two years of getting a job there,” she says. “So, although I didn’t have plans to go back to school, I recognize that education is so important. I know it will help me.”
American Sentinel University came onto Mandy’s radar when she learned that the university is an educational partner of her employer. “I knew that with my husband in school, tuition reimbursement was the only way I could return to school at the same time,” she says. “Thankfully, that educational partnership made all the difference. I chose the university for that as well as its online structure and overall flexibility. It seemed like a program I could fit around my life.”
A journey worth taking
Being a college student again—especially as the mother of a newborn son—hasn’t been easy, but Mandy says she’s gained more from the experience than she expected she would. “It’s so great to hear different perspectives from other students, many of whom are in the hospital setting, which I’ve been out of for so long,” she says. “I had a lot of fear with writing at first, but my husband has helped me a lot.” In 2018, Mandy became a mother. In May 2019, she decided to leave her position at Munson to focus her attention fully on motherhood and completing her BSN.
Planning her return
For now, Mandy is focused on raising her son and finishing her BSN in 2020. She knows that the degree will allow her to secure a good job, and one day, she would love to pursue a leadership position.
“I enjoy children and I could see myself getting back into school nursing, but I also loved case management as well,” she says. The pursuit of the BSN has been well worth it, she adds. ““I really am enjoying being in the school mindset. I know this will all help me in the long run.”
Inspired by Mandy’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.