JoAnn Lionarons has always been the motherly type, so it’s no surprise that after a little uncertainty right after high school, she quickly discovered nursing and has never looked back. “I’ve always sort of had that caregiver personality,” says JoAnn, who is from the Albany, New York, area. She started her post-ADN nursing career in medical surgical in the late 1980s.
Arizona, California, then home to New York
With a husband in the Marine Corps, JoAnn got a job in labor and delivery in Mission Viejo, California. In 1995, they returned to New York, where she joined St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany as a labor and delivery staff nurse. After a promotion to nurse manger in 2007, JoAnn started thinking about furthering her education.
“When my son was 14, I decided it was time for the BSN,” says JoAnn. “It was a requirement of my job to get a bachelor’s so it prompted me along.” In 2011, she graduated from the State University of New York, Polytechnic Institute.
Discovering American Sentinel University
After 11 years as a nurse manager, JoAnn grew eager for a new challenge. “My daughter was actually the one to give me the nudge to consider getting a master’s degree,” she says. “Once I started to look into it, I went to my peer group at the hospital and realized that many of them had graduated from American Sentinel University.”
That encouragement led JoAnn to explore the university’s MSN Nursing Education program and enroll in 2018. “I love leadership but the progression of my career has led me to do a lot of teaching: as a lactation consultant, a Lamaze childbirth educator and as an adjunct faculty member at Russell Sage College,” she says. “I want to make sure there are great nurses coming up in the ranks. It is our responsibility to do that as we progress as nurses in the profession.”
A promotion along the way
In October 2019, St. Peter’s—now St. Peter’s Health Care Partners—offered JoAnn a new position: as director of women’s and children’s services. In the home stretch of her MSN Nursing Education, JoAnn decided to take the leap. “We’re part of Trinity Health, one of the largest multi-institutional healthcare delivery systems in the United States. This is a big opportunity that I’m excited about.”
Proud and excited
In April 2020, JoAnn earned the MSN Nursing Education, and the world was different practically overnight. “Twelve hours after I submitted my capstone project, New York was on fire with COVID-19,” she says. “We were making difficult decisions on a topic that nobody knew much about and I was practically brand new to the job.”
The aftermath has been challenging, and JoAnn says she’s grateful that her education has supported her in acquiring new knowledge. “I’ve always been a leader in my profession, and having the MSN solidifies that,” she says. “I’m really proud of myself for pushing through this and setting myself up for whatever opportunities come my way.”
Always a face at American Sentinel
With this being her first online education experience, JoAnn says that American Sentinel exceeded her expectations. “You might think you would be a faceless name in an online university, but I never once felt that way at American Sentinel,” she says. “I felt supported at every step. It has been a great experience that I know will help me advance my career.”
Inspired by JoAnn’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.
Learn what American Sentinel has to offer:
Let us answer any questions you have. Fill out the form below, and we will be in touch quickly.