Connie Workman has known since middle school that she wanted to become a nurse one day. She started her education at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing, where she earned associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing in 1989. Her first job out of school was teaching at a vocational technical school.
“I really enjoyed teaching,” says Connie, who is originally from Ohio but moved to Kentucky at the age of 12. As a nursing educator, she did many psychiatric clinicals, and realized she had discovered not one but two passions: teaching and working with the mental health population.
Focus on her family
When Connie became a mother, she stepped away from the workforce for several years to focus on motherhood. When her daughter went to school, she decided it was time to return to the setting she enjoyed so much before: mental health nursing. She joined Three Rivers Medical Center as a staff nurse in the psychiatric unit, holding the position for five years. Along the way, Connie earned the MSN and became board certified as a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
Until 2017, Connie worked at different facilities as a psychiatric mental health NP. And while she loved her career, she also came to a realization. “There is such a need for psychiatric nurses,” says Connie. “I wanted to do something and the best way I felt I could impact the profession was through education.”
Back to school
In 2017, Connie accepted a position at the University of Pikeville as an assistant professor of nursing. “They needed a faculty member with my experience and the timing was good for me, as I was looking for a change,” she says. At the same time, Connie decided to earn a doctorate.” I have always wanted to get a terminal degree. I could’ve taught without it, but I want to set an example for my family and the students I teach. Education in nursing is a lifelong process. To be a great nurse, you have to continually educate yourself and it is the same with being a great nurse educator.”
Discovering American Sentinel University
As she did her research for an online program, Connie knew that a practice-focused program suited her needs best. “I felt like American Sentinel had the most to offer and the quality of education that I have received since I enrolled in fall 2018 has been excellent,” says Connie. Her capstone project is a study of how a wellness program can impact stress levels of undergraduate nursing students. She is also studying health behaviors and how they decrease stress levels in order to best advise her students on developing resilience and improving their productivity.
Goals for the future
When she graduates in spring 2021, Connie says she will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. “As a professor, I want my students to realize that we are only limited if we limit ourselves,” she says. “This degree was not something I had to do but it was something I wanted to do. With this achievement, I feel like I will be contributing to the improvement of the nursing profession, and that feels good.”
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.