“I wasn’t one of those people who always knew that nursing was what I wanted to do,” says Vivienne Pierce McDaniel, American Sentinel graduate and now an adjunct faculty member at Aspen University. The Virginia native graduated high school in the mid-1970s, and although she’d worked as a nurse aide and a medical assistant as a teenager, nursing school didn’t cross her mind until much later.
Instead, Vivienne pursued her passion for photography, working freelance for the Boston Celtics. Her day job was managing doctor’s offices, which she did for many years. She always worked in the healthcare area, but in roles away from bedside care—she had her own medical coding and billing business and worked as an RN auditor for a while.
Inspired to start a new chapter
In Vivienne’s early 40s, the community college where she lived was recruiting students for its nursing program and Vivienne was intrigued. “I went back to school and got the A.A.S. in Nursing in 2006,” she says. She started her RN career in telemetry at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. Thereafter, she joined an assisted living facility as an administrator/director of nursing. She became a practice manager for a medical practice at Riverside Health System group in 2009.
Through Riverside Health System, Vivienne also had the opportunity to teach Nurse Aide students at four of the system’s many long-term care facilities. “I really fell in love with teaching and a cousin of mine who was going to school at American Sentinel University convinced me to pursue my BSN,” she says.
American Sentinel University BSN and MSN programs
Vivienne completed the BSN program at American Sentinel in 2012 and continued on immediately for the MSN Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership, graduating in 2014. The new credentials allowed her to further her career. She became the lead nurse aide educator in the workforce development program at her alma mater, Thomas Nelson Community College. And she became the acting assistant chief nurse executive for a behavioral rehabilitation center before moving into an occupational health supervisor position. Once she had a master’s, she started teaching in the ADN program as an adjunct at John Tyler Community.
But her education did more than expand her career options. “The master’s program at American Sentinel is really what set me up for what I wanted to do later on,” Vivienne says. “I took a healthcare policy course in the MSN program and it set me off in a whole different direction. I got into healthcare policy and advocacy and I’ve been there ever since.”
A consultant, professor and passionate advocate
After American Sentinel, Vivienne served as an executive nurse consultant, helping long-term healthcare facilities improve their practices and standards. She has gotten involved with her local and state government, serving on the Virginia Governor’s COVID-19 Long-Term Care 2020 Task Force. She is often in attendance at Virginia General Assembly advocating for long-term care and mental health issues. “My love is healthcare policy and advocacy for long-term healthcare facilities, where I’ve worked a lot, and I advocate to increase the availability of the clinical workforce for nursing homes in Virginia,” she says.
DNP graduate and diversity, equity and inclusion consultant
Vivienne might be in her 60s, but she’s just getting started on some of her goals. She graduated with a Doctor of Nursing Practice from Walden University in 2018 and in 2019, accepted a position as an online adjunct professor of nursing at Aspen University. In mid-2020, Vivienne became a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant for SentinelU™, a division of American Sentinel University that creates virtual and clinical nursing simulations for nursing programs and hospital systems around the country.
What’s left on her list? “I am currently writing a book about the careers of Black nurses in American from 1960 to 2020, and I would love to get more involved in developing programs for colleges and universities on diversity, equity and inclusion,” Vivienne says. “I’m really excited to be teaching and I’ll always advocate for patients and marginalized populations.”
Inspired by Vivienne’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.
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