Ashley Yerry | Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse, Albany Medical Center

Ashley Yerry | Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse, Albany Medical Center

Year of the Nurse Scholarship Recipient

Some of Ashley Yerry’s earliest memories were seeing her mother, a nurse, dress in scrubs and get ready to go to her job in the operating room in her small upstate New York town hospital. “My mom used to wrap our Christmas presents in random medical boxes she would bring home from work,” laughs Ashley, who has lived most of her life in the Albany area. “I was used to seeing those around and hearing about my mom’s nursing job, and she was really passionate about it. It definitely had an impact.” 

Finding her nursing path

Although nursing was on her mind, Ashley wasn’t 100% sure it was the career for her, so she worked as lifeguard and a bartender after high school before eventually going to college to earn her general education credits. She started nursing school in 2012 at Hudson Valley Community College. “I had a rotation during school in the PACU with babies and that’s where I wanted to start,” she says. 

Albany Medical Center, neonatal intensive care unit

When Ashley graduated from nursing school, she joined Albany Medical Center, which has a level 4 neonatal ICU, as a neonatal intensive care nurse. “We take in the highest acuity patients from a large geographic area,” she says. “We see a wide variety of babies and I really admire the level of care we provide here. I came here to get the best experience and I’m still here!” 

Along the way, Ashley started thinking about getting a BSN. “I wanted to advance my nursing career, and move internally from a level three to a level four nurse, and I had everything checked off to do that—except I didn’t have a BSN,” she says. “For me, getting the BSN was a personal goal and also planning for the future. I never wanted to get stuck in my career.” 

Discovering American Sentinel University

Two coworkers of Ashley’s went to American Sentinel University and recommended the school to her. “Once I looked into it myself, it was a no-brainer based on how helpful people were and the affordability,” she says. “They were responsive, quick to answer my questions and the curriculum of the degree was really applicable to the work I do.” Ashley started the BSN program in 2018, taking two classes a year in order to not exceed her hospital’s annual tuition reimbursement.

Year of the Nurse Scholarship and a new plan: SIMPath®

At the pace she was going, Ashley knew that the BSN would take her five years to finish—but she couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket for classes. “A colleague of mine mentioned the SIMPath® program, where you could complete competencies—as many as you wanted during a semester—and it just seemed perfect. I can go at my own pace, work hard, and finish my BSN a lot sooner.” 

In fall 2020, Ashley applied for the Year of the Nurse Scholarship “on a whim.” “When I found out I received it, I was so amazed and so grateful,” she says. “I haven’t felt this proud in a long time, and aside from the obvious financial help, I’m just honored.” As a single mom of two toddlers, it’s a lot of effort to go to school, Ashley says, but worth it. “I remember seeing how hard my mom worked when I was younger and I was inspired by that. I hope that they see that I want the best for them and that even though they are young, I’m instilling that work ethic into them a little bit.” 

Goals for the future

With plans to finish the BSN in January 2021, Ashley says she’s been bitten by the education bug and might continue working toward an MSN degree. “I’m not sure what specialization yet, but being in school has really motivated me,” she says. “I have thought about management and I’ve even considered becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Whatever I do, I know the BSN will help me achieve the longer-term goals I have in the future.”  

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” and American Sentinel is celebrating by offering a Year of the Nurse Scholarship. Several scholarships are awarded per quarter in 2020. Congratulations to this quarter’s recipients. Learn more and apply here

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