Growing up in the Philippines, Carina Madriaga knew that college was in her plans. But a move to the United States (Colorado) when she was 17 years old—just one year into her college studies in the Philippines, where students graduate secondary school after grade 10—put her on a slightly different path.
“I went to vocational school to become a nurse assistant and started my career in that before going back to school for an associate degree in dental assisting,” says Carina. Although she enjoyed her career, she wanted more autonomy and the ability to focus on the whole patient, and decided to get the ADN in 2004 from the Community College of Denver.
Telemetry, cardiovascular surgery and intensive care unit
After becoming a Registered Nurse, Carina started her nursing career with Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver in the telemetry unit. She moved to another Denver hospital in 2007, Saint Joseph, and joined the cardiovascular surgery unit to care for patients recovering from open-heart surgery.
In 2009, she moved to where she remains today: the adult intensive care unit. “I really like all of my experiences, but working in intensive care is very rewarding,” says Carina. “Saint Joseph is a great place with a lot of opportunity.”
A life milestone that inspired her to learn
In 2011, Carina was diagnosed with breast cancer and recovered the following year. “I thought, you know, life is short, and I want to learn more and make my life the best it can be,” she says. “I want to advance my education and not wait any longer.” She earned certifications in cardiac surgery and critical care.
Expanding her knowledge with a BSN and MSN
As she continued working, Carina discovered that her desire to learn wasn’t satisfied. “I realized that I have so much to learn about nursing,” she says. “I have a lot of hospital experience, but there is so much more I could learn about nursing theories, the reasons we as nurses do things and other insights outside of bedside patient care.” As Saint Joseph moved toward Magnet status, Carina enrolled in a BSN program and graduated in 2019.
Going back to school was hard, but also exciting—and Carina knew she wanted more. “St. Joseph has a partnership with American Sentinel University and offers a tuition discount, and so I looked them up and really liked the MSN Nursing Education program,” she says, adding that she’s been thinking about pursuing nursing education in her career. “I can take one class at a time, and I can work full time. I want to make room for this in my life, and at American Sentinel, I can.” Shortly after graduating with the BSN in 2019, Carina started the MSN Nursing Education.
Beginning her journey
Carina has been thinking about moving into education for a while, and the MSN Nursing Education is her way of laying the groundwork. In the future, she hopes to continue working in intensive care but take on a clinical education role. “I think there are opportunities to get into education within the ICU and help experienced nurses enhance their knowledge,” she says. “I love nursing and I also love learning. I think that combined role could be perfect for me, and I’m excited to make education a continued part of my journey. This is only the beginning.”
Inspired by Carina’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or case management. 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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