Phi Tran admits she’s the stereotypical “lifelong student.”
With a long list of military and other educational credentials and degrees, Phi made her way to American Sentinel for the MSN Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership in 2014. “I realized after advancing through the profession that what I really want now is to go back and teach one day,” says Phi, who is a flight commander in clinical management stationed in Japan.
A passion for helping others
Phi’s interest in healthcare comes from her father, who was a doctor in the country where she was born and raised until age 11, Vietnam. “When we came to the U.S., he was unable to practice, but he always encouraged me to become a healthcare professional,” says Phi. “To me, nursing meant taking care of others. And that was always something that appealed to me.”
Phi joined the Air Force in 2005 after graduating from San Jose State University. Since then, she has lived around the country and the globe, gaining experience in a variety of clinical areas. “I’ve done medical-surgical, pediatrics, primary care and flight nursing,” she says. To teach, Phi says, would be the culmination of a rewarding career. “I’m interested in giving back to my profession and helping new nurses prepare for their careers.”
Earning advanced education at her own pace
Phi started at American Sentinel while stationed in Joint Base Elmendorf – Richardson, Alaska. “The ability to pursue my education from wherever I am has been perfect for me,” she says. “In the military, we are moving all the time. But I could do my degree from anywhere and that’s been really wonderful.” After years of hard work, taking breaks when she needed, Phi crossed the finish line in February 2021.
The feeling of achievement is unlike any of her other accomplishments. “It is such an exciting feeling,” she says. “It’s been hard, but it has been worth it. I believe that if you’re passionate and dedicated, you can do anything you want to do. I am blessed with a tight community of friends who love and push me to excel, and I am thankful to American Sentinel and the staff who have assisted me along the way.”
A doctorate in the future
Phi intends to take a well-earned break for the rest of 2021. But she’s already thinking about earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice. “School isn’t easy for me, but that’s part of what makes me want to keep doing it,” she says. “I always feel like the things that are hardest for us are the best for us. If I can do this, anyone can. Learning is a lifelong journey for all of us.”
Starting a nonprofit
In 2020, Phi founded a nonprofit called Fostering Our Youth Inc. with the assistance of a small group of friends. The organization provides mentorship and scholarship for young people ages 18 and younger, exposing them to career opportunities and helping them achieve their dreams, regardless of their background and circumstances. She wants to help the next generation achieve their dreams.
Phi believes that everyone could positively impact another person. “I can think of teachers from middle school who had a big impact on me and I want to be that kind of influence for others,” she says. “I think if kids have people in their lives who are a positive influence, they can really be successful. If I could be that mentor for someone—either through this organization, through nursing or as a future nurse educator, and serving in the military—I would be honored.”
Inspired by Phi’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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