Aggie Read is someone who has wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember. “My grandfather was a physician and two of my uncles were doctors as well,” says Aggie, who grew up in Michigan. “I remember visiting my granddad at the hospital and thinking how great it would be to become a nurse. My mom would buy me Florence Nightingale books growing up and I was a nurse for Halloween!”
Aggie went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Indiana University—a rare pursuit at a time when most nurses earned associate degrees. “My parents had high expectations for us and I knew I wanted a bachelor’s degree,” she says. She started her career at Methodist Hospital as a pediatric intensive care unit nurse. A move to Texas for her husband’s job led her back to school at the University of Texas Health Science Center, where she earned the MSN in 1986, focusing on nursing care of at-risk children. She rejoined the workforce at Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit.
A move to Nashville, the next chapter
In 1986, Aggie and her family settled in Nashville, Tennessee, and she began working part time at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. While at the nursing school, she developed a Certified Nursing Assistant program with a partner college in Nashville. Since 2005, Aggie has been a full-time instructor in the Pre-Specialty and ASN to MSN programs. She also received her Faith Community Nurse designation in 2011 and Certified Nurse Educator Certification in 2015.
Encouraged to pursue a doctorate
Earning a doctorate was something on Aggie’s mind for many years. “When my children were in elementary and junior high school, I even did some prerequisites for a doctorate program, but then they became high school age and life was busy,” she says. “I come from a family that valued education so much and I personally love the challenge of it.” In doing her research, she learned about American Sentinel University’s leadership-focused Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership.
The American Sentinel DNP program’s emphasis on theories of learning, methodologies of teaching and leadership, and online structure was very appealing to Aggie. “Our former dean at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing was on the American Sentinel board for many years, and there’s an American Sentinel-Vanderbilt connection,” she says of American Sentinel’s roots, when the merger of three universities, one founded by Vanderbilt, came together to form American Sentinel University. Everything fell into place and Aggie started the DNP in 2018.
Growth from the challenge
Returning to college late in her career for the DNP Educational Leadership has been no small feat, says Aggie, but she’s had great support and plenty of drive. “I’ve never done an online program before,” she says. “It taught me to be focused and how to research better, and I’m proud of my resilience. I’ve had great encouragement from my husband and three adult children as well as my colleagues at Vanderbilt.”
A better educator
Aggie will complete her DNP Educational Leadership next month, in June 2020. Her capstone project focused on whether educational intervention increases self-efficacy for faculty who are not engaged in advising.
As an educator, she loves what she does and feels that the education she has received will make her a better educator. “I’ve learned so much these last two years—this program was well developed, smooth and clear,” she says. “I have always been good at meeting students where they are. Now, with the education foundation, I hope I can connect with students and guide them even better.”
Inspired by Aggie’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.
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