Although Liz Hunnicutt’s mother was a nurse, she did not follow in her footsteps right away after high school. “I’ve always been interested in healthcare but I went the hotel, restaurant and tourism route after graduating high school,” says Liz, who grew up in Louisiana, Virginia and New Jersey before attending college at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
A hospitality career first
Liz graduated with a B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration in 1987. She spent a few years working at a hotel during the day and a bar at night before landing at Prudential Securities, where she got her series 6 and series 7 broker’s licenses. For the next five years, Liz worked as a registered sales assistant for Prudential. When her husband opened up his own brokerage firm, Liz joined him.
The start of a nursing career
When Liz had her daughter, she took a few years away from the workforce. But as her daughter neared school age, she started to think about returning to work. “It was time for a change and nursing came to mind immediately,” she says. “I went back to school at Midlands Technical College to earn the ADN and graduated in 2003.”
At the age of 37, Liz started a new career in nursing. Her first job was at Palmetto Health Richland as a pediatric RN. When she became pregnant with her second child, she became an agency nurse, working in a variety of positions—from post-surgical to stroke to medical-surgical to orthopedics.
Lexington Medical Center
In 2012, Liz joined the float pool at Lexington Medical Center, filling vacant positions in physician practices. In 2017, she took on a new challenge: working as a quality review specialist. “I liked working with the EHR system when I was in the float pool and when this opportunity came up, I was excited to try it,” she says. “This role afforded me a regular work schedule so I can enjoy family time and get to my kids’ sports and everything else.”
Taking the BSN path
In 2019, Liz’s employer offered her a choice: get the BSN within three years (and a different title) or continue without one. She initially chose to not earn the BSN and stay where she was, but had second thoughts immediately. “I realized that everyone around me had the BSN or above,” she says. “I knew it was important and that I need to stay relevant and maintain credentials to continue in my job. And should I ever move to a different hospital, it would definitely be expected of me that I have the BSN.”
Finding American Sentinel
Liz began researching online programs and came across the BSN SIMPath program. “A friend at work told me about the competency-based education structure of the program and it sounded really good to me,” she says. Despite some fear about returning to school late in her career, Liz went for it and started in August 2019. “You’re given rubrics to show you how to prove what you know, but you’re also learning new things as you go. It was challenging at first, but I’m learning and getting more enjoyment out of each class.” Lexington Medical is supporting Liz with tuition reimbursement.
An eye on the future
In the future, Liz says she might continue her education with an MSN Nursing Informatics. “The possibilities in nursing are endless, which I’ve learned with my move into the data side of things,” she says.
Without question, Liz adds, she’d return to American Sentinel for her master’s. “I absolutely recommend this university and the SIMPath program. The staff and professors are so kind and the flexibility has been key to my success. I’ve enjoyed learning in this kind of environment and I’m excited to see where the BSN will take me.”
Inspired by Liz’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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.