Philadelphia Nurse Defines His Future with MSN Nursing Education

Philadelphia Nurse Defines His Future with MSN Nursing Education

DJ Schnabel was interested in healthcare from a young age, but after a high school “careers in medicine” program, he found himself especially intrigued by nursing. 

“I started shadowing nurses and working at our town volunteer ambulance squad,” says DJ, who grew up in New Jersey. He went to William Paterson University and pursued the BSN, continuing to volunteer. Halfway through college, he became a technician in the Pediatric Emergency Room. 

Pediatric ICU Nursing

After graduating in 2012, DJ joined Joseph Sanzari Children’s Hospital at the Hackensack University Medical Center as an RN in the pediatric ICU. “Once I started doing that, I’d found my place,” he says. “My entire nursing career has revolved around pediatrics and emergency medicine. And I truly love it. It’s different than what I thought my career would be after all those years volunteering on the ambulance squad and working in the ER as a tech, but I’m exactly where I should be.” Since 2012, DJ has also travelled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to lead a nursing team for a dental/oral surgery clinic.  

DJ moved into the pediatric cardiac ICU in 2015 at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York, but soon, he and his wife moved back to New Jersey, where he joined Goryeb Children’s Hospital of Morristown. Over the next several years, his wife’s career led them to different areas of New Jersey. He always worked in pediatrics. 

Off to Philadelphia

When DJ’s wife got a job in Philadelphia in 2018, he accepted a position at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as member of the emergency transport team. Now, he is a clinical nurse expert. “I am half nurse educator, half clinical nurse,” he says. “It’s the first time I’ve stepped away from the bedside, but I really love the blend of my roles.” DJ still does one 12-hour clinical shift a week. 

To support the position DJ now holds, he enrolled in a master’s degree program. “I debated for a while about what degree to earn, but I ultimately decided that I want to be able to teach in some capacity,” he says. “When I took the step beyond just precepting, I realized how special nursing education is. I feel the MSN in Nursing Education will give me the ability to advance my career and pursue nursing education.” 

American Sentinel University

When American Sentinel came onto DJ’s radar, he found many aspects appealing—including the cost, the curriculum of the MSN Nursing Education and the applicability to his actual job. “American Sentinel was the best fit of the programs I’d looked at, and I have some excellent universities right in my backyard,” he says. He started the program in January 2020 and hopes to graduate in winter 2021. 

Perfect for the self-directed learner

DJ says that this is his first time doing online learning. “I really enjoy it,” he says. “I’m becoming a much more self-directed learner, and I feel that I’ve learned to leverage technology to submit really relevant, meaningful assignments.” The connections he’s made with faculty and students from around the country has been a bonus. “It’s awesome that my professional base has extended beyond the Northeast.” 

Goal for the future: PhD

After he graduates, DJ would like to pursue a PhD—and he’s already exploring a program in the Philadelphia area. “The MSN course work has made me realize that I want to do research, and thus, I want a PhD in Nursing,” he says. “My goal is to bring new ideas to the area of nursing. I see myself drawing on my clinical background, working with nurses at the bedside and leading clinical research teams.” 

Long term, DJ envisions himself teaching as well. The MSN has been integral in helping him figure out his path. “I’m so grateful I went this route, because I think it has offered me that clarity and provided the stepping stone I seek,” he says. “I would recommend American Sentinel for many reasons, but for me, it’s been so helpful in helping me determine what I love and where I want to go in the future.” 

Inspired by DJ’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing educationinformatics, 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.

Have you dreamed of earning your BSNMSN or DNP? With American Sentinel, you can make that dream a reality.

Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.

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Nadia Williams | Quality and Peer Review Coordinator, St. Petersburg General Hospital
Ashley Yerry | Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse, Albany Medical Center