When Kristen Hale was growing up, the plan was always for her to work for the family industrial engineering business. “I went to Kansas State University with plans to study engineering, but when I got there, I realized I it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” she says. Drawing on a powerful experience she had in high school when she had surgery and was hospitalized, Kristen began thinking about nursing instead. “I remember that experience so clearly and it was the nurses who made me comfortable. They had a big impact on me.” Kristen transferred to a nearby community college to get an ADN and never looked back.
Labor and delivery
After graduating in 2008, Kristen started her career at Overland Park Regional Medical Center as a labor and delivery nurse. After two and a half years, she joined a former manager at Children’s Mercy Hospital to help open a specialized labor and delivery unit. She became a perinatal nursing program coordinator in 2012 and returned to school for a BSN. “I knew that further education would help me take advantage of new opportunities as they arose,” she says.
Time for an MSN
In 2017, Kristen went back to school once again—but for something totally new. “Technology has interested me for a long time, so while I was still a perinatal nursing program coordinator, I started looking for nursing informatics MSN programs,” she says. Kristen even started one at a school in her town, but it wasn’t a fit for her goals. “I started looking around for other programs and discovered American Sentinel University’s MSN Nursing Informatics program. I liked the eight-week classes and the curriculum.” She enrolled that year.
When a position opened up at Children’s Mercy in nursing informatics in 2018, Kristen jumped at it, excited to try something new. “I was always the person who everyone would call if something tech-related broke,” she says. Pursuing the MSN, she adds, gave her a distinction as a new informaticist. As of her November 2019 graduation, Kristen is the only person in her group who holds an MSN in Nursing Informatics.
Benefits at work
The MSN course work has helped Kristen tremendously at work. “I actually started my new job at the same time that my specialization courses began,” she says. “In a lot of ways, it felt like orientation for my position.” As for her position, she is a builder and a fixer by nature, which means the role suits her well. “I’m assigned to my old labor and delivery unit, which is really fun. I’m helping my former team provide better care for patients.”
Doable at any life stage
As a full-time nurse and mother of a toddler, Kristen says that the flexibility of American Sentinel made the endeavor possible. “I could choose one class at a time or take breaks if I needed to,” she says. With a goal of one day becoming a chief nursing informatics officer, Kristen is glad she made the decision to return to school. “There is a lot of opportunity where I am to grow and I’m excited that I’m now more prepared for that. With my education, I’m up to date on a field that is constantly changing, and I have the credentials to pursue my future goals.”
Inspired by Kristen’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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.
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