Frontline Scholar: New Jersey Neuroscience Nurse Striving Toward MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

Frontline Scholar: New Jersey Neuroscience Nurse Striving Toward MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

Christina Salazar says that in high school, she was influenced by shows like ER in choosing healthcare for her profession. 

“When I learned about nursing, it seemed like it might be the best fit,” says Christina, who is originally from Pennsylvania. “I loved the idea of caring for patients and working at the bedside.” After graduating high school in 1999, she went into an ADN program at Gwynedd-Mercy College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 2002. 

Pinnacle Health System

Christina started at Harrisburg Hospital in the medical-surgical/neuro-telemetry unit as a staff nurse, where she stayed for eight years. It was a well-rounded foundation, and eventually, Christina moved to another Pinnacle Health hospital, Community General, to join the intensive care unit. 

Encouraged to earn a BSN

Along the way, Christina was encouraged by Pinnacle to get a BSN degree when the system was working to achieve Magnet status. “There were several of us who ended up going to American Sentinel University, which was perfect for my work schedule,” she says. “It was such an adaptable program that allowed me to apply my knowledge from nursing. It was also great for my life as a busy nurse and mom of three children.” Christina completed the BSN at American Sentinel in 2014. 

A move to New Jersey

In 2015, Christina and her family moved to New Jersey for her husband’s business. She worked for an agency for nine months before getting hired full time at JFK Neuroscience Institute as a nurse clinician. “The position is challenging and we cover all things neurology, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, movement disorder, sleep medicine, and pediatric neurology,” she says. “This was a new side of patient care to me and really opened my eyes to the possibility of becoming a Nurse Practitioner.” 

American Sentinel MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

In early 2020, Christina’s mother had a brief hospital stay, which pushed her even more toward returning to school. “I saw that Nurse Practitioners are used in inpatient a lot as well, and I work outpatient currently,” she says. “I realized the many options that could be available to me.”  

She started kicking around the idea of the Nurse Practitioner program. “I learned that American Sentinel had an FNP program when I started researching different programs out there and my manager told me she had enrolled there too.” Before long, Christina was following suit. She started her first classes in June 2020.

Frontline Nurse Scholarship

Christina applied for the Frontline Nurse Scholarship shortly after starting her classes and was “shocked and honored” to receive it. “It felt so good to be recognized and deemed worthy of such a wonderful award,” she says. During the pandemic, Christina was often deployed to work in the hospital side of JFK (JFK Medical Center). “My critical care experience proved valuable. I consider it an honor to help other nurses, doctors and healthcare team members during this crisis.” 

When Christina finishes the MSN FNP program, her goal is to work in inpatient critical care or neurology. “I know that being a Nurse Practitioner will make me more marketable. I hope I can become a more diversified part of the healthcare team, and I hope to continue the tradition of teaching to new people in the profession.” 

The Frontline Nurse Scholarship awarded five American Sentinel BSN alumni working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic to support patients and their communities. It was a one-time, not recurring, scholarship.

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