Lisa Zemski always dreamed of becoming a nurse, but for more than a decade, she set the pursuit aside and put her family first.
“My family always called me ‘Nurse Nightingale’ because I was always trying to get people back to health,” says Lisa, a native of New York. But after high school, her plans changed when she got married and started a family. Then the world changed on September 11, 2001.
A new perspective
Lisa’s husband worked in New York City in the World Trade Center. “When the towers were hit, I spent the entire day thinking he had been killed,” Lisa says. “I didn’t hear from him until midnight.”
The fear was an eye-opener for Lisa, who had never earned a college degree and was concerned about how she would support her and her children—ages 2 and 5 at the time—should the worst have happened. “It was a tragic day and it also made me realize that I needed to do something for myself.”
Enrolled in school in 2001
With two young children, Lisa was motivated to better herself and enrolled at Orange County Community College, working hard to graduate with the ADN by 2003. Her first job was working at Crystal Run Village, which serves people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in the Mid-Hudson and Catskill regions of New York. In 2006, she joined Garnet Health Medical Center as a float nurse, working medical-surgical and eventually moving into mental health.
Time for a BSN
In late 2016, Lisa got a new job at Bon Secour Community Hospital on the inpatient psychiatric unit. “I had been grandfathered in at my previous hospital with the ADN, but when joining Bon Secour, I signed an agreement that I would obtain a BSN within five years,” says Lisa. She started her research on programs that would meet her goals and discovered American Sentinel College, which happens to be an educational partner of Bon Secour.
Soon, Lisa was signed up for the RN to BSN program, but when she heard about the Powered by SIMPath® program, she was intrigued. “I asked my advisor about it, and realized that the opportunity to complete competencies not classes was ideal for me,” she says. “I have a family and animals to take care of and a full-time job, and I’m really great at working independently. I knew it would work well for me.” Lisa started the program in June 2019 and will finish by early 2021.
Making plans for the future
As she nears completion of the BSN, Lisa says she’s thinking about the future and getting an MSN at American Sentinel College might be part of her plans.
“I have found the BSN to be very enlightening and I have learned more than I hoped I would,” she says. As for how her career might unfold, Lisa would love to try a new area of nursing one day—and she knows that the MSN would help her get there. “I love that about nursing. There are so many options and opportunities. Expanding options for myself through education is extremely important.”
Inspired by Lisa’s story? A BSN is ideal for nurses who want to expand their knowledge base, become more marketable and enjoy greater career stability and mobility. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of nursing and 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 BSN, MSN 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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