Maryrose Knutson | Director of Inpatient Services, Catholic Health Initiatives St. Gabriel’s Hospital

Maryrose Knutson | Director of Inpatient Services, Catholic Health Initiatives St. Gabriel’s Hospital

Rural Health Scholarship Recipient

When Maryrose Knutson was a young girl, her mother went back to school in her late 40s to become a nurse. 

“That really had an impact on me and I started working in a nursing home at 16,” says Maryrose, who grew up in Aitkin, Minnesota. After high school, she took a few college classes and started working odd jobs before getting serious about her education. She became a Licensed Practical Nurse in 2007 and earned the Associate Degree of Nursing in 2011. 

Critical access hospitals

Maryrose started her nursing career at Mille Lacs Health System, where she worked as an LPN and RN. Her experience spanned the emergency department, medical-surgical, pediatrics, OB, urgent care and outpatient services. She also worked part time at Catholic Health Initiatives’ St. Gabriel’s Hospital in central Minnesota in the intensive care unit. 

To open more doors, Maryrose returned to school for a BSN and graduated in 2016. That led to an opportunity at St. Gabriel’s to become the director of inpatient services, a role she accepted the same year. “My job is to oversee the nurses,” she says. As she built her management experience, Maryrose realized something about herself: she loves patient care. “I really love where I work, but I will admit that I’m very pulled to the bedside. I started thinking about earning the Nurse Practitioner degree so I could expand my options.” 

Researching NP programs

Maryrose was referred to American Sentinel University by the director of quality at her hospital—an alumna. “It was affordable, flexible and accredited,” she says. “I really thought it looked like a great program for me and the goals I had in mind.” Maryrose started the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program in July 2020—shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak. “It was a high-stress time and I had a lot on my plate at the hospital. American Sentinel was great and supportive of all of us as we were dealing with a lot of change and uncertainty.” 

A career dedicated to rural health

For her entire career, Maryrose has worked and lived in rural communities in Minnesota. “In rural health, you have to be a jack of all trades because you might have a patient come in with a heart attack or have to deliver a baby in a moment’s notice,” she says. “Minutes lost could lose a life. You have to be everything to your patients.” 

Maryrose applied for and received the Rural Health Scholarship shortly after starting at American Sentinel. The support, she says, means the world. “It was such an honor for American Sentinel to consider rural health nurses as being worthy of financial support and this kind of recognition,” she says. “It reinforced for me personally that I’m on the right path. It meant so much.” 

Future goal: Returning to the bedside

When Maryrose graduates in 2022, she hopes to work as a Nurse Practitioner in a family clinic. “I want to provide primary care to patients of all ages, because that’s who we serve in my rural community,” she says. 

As a mother of six children, ranging from one to 15 years old, Maryrose has a lot of responsibilities, but says working toward the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner has been achievable. “It’s amazing that I can do all of this after my kids go to bed and on weekends,” she says. “I’m so glad I found American Sentinel, and I’m excited to make an impact with this degree in my community.” 

American Sentinel has created the Rural Health scholarship program to help healthcare providers and patients overcome obstacles that are different than those in urban areas. Eight scholarships are awarded per year. Congratulations to this quarter’s recipients. Learn more and apply here

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