When Laurie Itskov graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in Special Education, she started her career as a special education teacher for the Jewish Federation in Albany, near where she grew up.
“In special education, I became really interested in how physical abilities affect intellectual abilities,” says Laurie. That experience as well as an unexpected role as caretaker to her mother-in-law and father-in-law, both diabetic, led her to make a big change. In 2003, Laurie left teaching to become a patient care associate at Albany Medical Center, a role in which she supported nurses caring for diabetic and other patients.
Furthering her education
Soon, Laurie was enrolled in a BSN program at Russell Sage College. She graduated in 2007 and begin her nursing career at Saint Peters Health Partners, also in Albany. There, she gained a wide range of clinical experience at three different Saint Peters hospitals, working in long-term care, oncology, hospice, orthopedic, cardiac and neurological rehab. In 2016, Laurie earned an MSN with a concentration in Nursing Education.
Back into teaching
After 10 years of nursing, Laurie was excited to return to her roots. She became an adjunct instructor at Mildred Elley, a career-focused college with an Albany campus, working in their two-year LPN program. Within a year, she was offered a full-time position, which she has held ever since.
As it always has, teaching gives new meaning to her role in nursing and healthcare. “Even way back when I was working with diabetic patients, it occurred to me that the best way to help patients is to have the very best nurses,” she says. Laurie decided that a doctorate in nursing education would help her achieve her goals, and she started researching online programs. “When I found American Sentinel University, I was so excited about the educational focus and the practice-focused nature of the program. I was very impressed right away with the way the program was set up. I knew it would help me get where I wanted to go.”
In late 2018, Laurie enrolled in American Sentinel’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership. She hopes that when she completes the DNP, it will open doors for her to not just teach LPN students, but educate other nurse educators.
“I’m hoping I can get into a position where I guide new educators coming in,” she says. “I love mentoring nurse educators. I would really love to get into a position where I could develop a program as well as the educators in that program.” In fact, Laurie’s capstone project focuses on whether the mentoring of nurse educators influence job satisfaction.
An investment worthwhile
Laurie will graduate with the DNP Educational Leadership in 2021. The achievement will be meaningful in more ways than one. “When I think back to when I was first starting school, it’s amazing that I’ve come this far,” she says. “This degree will mean so much to me. It is a huge deal to me, and although it isn’t easy, it’s been a good experience and I know the effort is definitely going to be worth it.”
Inspired by Laurie’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.