Nurse Earns Advanced Degrees to Achieve Career Goals

Graduate Goes from Floor Nurse to Training Other Nurses, Cites BSN Degree Triggers Career Advancement

AURORA, Colo. – September 11, 2014 – More healthcare employers prefer, and often require, nurses with a combination of experience and education to fill higher-level positions in hospitals. That’s why longtime Kindred Healthcare employee, Michelle James, decided to expand her career opportunities by earning a BSN degree from American Sentinel University.

James, a Kansas City native, started as an LPN with Kindred Healthcare in 1996 where she learned firsthand that the company is committed to helping its employees further their education. “They put patients and employees first and they invest a lot into helping their people by supporting their educational and career goals,” says James.

Taking Advantage of Kindred’s Educational Benefits
When James felt the time was right to pursue her BSN, she looked to American Sentinel University, one of Kindred’s educational partners, and liked what she heard.

“The fact that Kindred offers tuition reimbursement and American Sentinel discounts tuition for its partners made a huge difference, but I also really liked the feel of American Sentinel,” says James. “The faculty members have worked extensively in healthcare and nursing, so they relate to what you do day-to-day.”

Most importantly, James felt that the professors at American Sentinel were highly focused on helping to develop her career.

“Michelle had the experience, but without a BSN she would have been passed over by her employer for a nurse with both experience and a BSN,” says Vi Wilkes, MA, MS, Ed.D., RN, associate professor, graduate nursing programs at American Sentinel University. “Being able to add the BSN to her resume made her more marketable for a higher position in nursing at a time when experience is no longer enough to qualify for positions in nursing other than staff nursing. Nurses like Michelle, who recognize the need and take advantage of opportunities to upgrade their qualifications, are ensuring their individual future as an employed nurse.”

The experience was so positive that when she graduated from the BSN program in 2013, James immediately decided to continue on to earn the MSN degree with an infection prevention and control specialization.

“I’m motivated to move up in my career, and luckily for me, I work for an organization that helps its people do that,” says James, now a MSN, infection prevention and control specialization student at American Sentinel. “I wanted to get a better understanding of what we can do at my level to keep infections down in our facility.”

From Running the Floor to Training Other Nurses
James says that a big motivator in pursuing her degrees at American Sentinel was to arm herself with the skills and credentials to move beyond patient care.

“I love what I do, but I’ve run nurse floors for 20 years and I feel I have the experience to do other things,” she says. “You really need at least a BSN to have more mobility in your nursing career.”

So in May 2014, when there was a need for a new nurse manager at her hospital, armed with her BSN – and her MSN underway – James was an ideal candidate.

“I don’t think I would have gotten the job without my education,” she says. “I’m very excited. Now, I can make a bigger difference in my organization by affecting the nursing staff, thereby affecting the quality of patient care that we provide.”

James’ specialization in infection prevention and control will equip her with the knowledge and skills she needs to provide Kindred Healthcare with a comprehensive infection and control plan. Hospitals are now required to report the results of their infection prevention surveillance results to the state and to the National Health Safety Network (NHSN).

“Michelle will be able to monitor prevent and control the healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) at Kindred, placing Kindred in a position for maximum reimbursement for quality and safety of care, and a ranking as one of the top hospitals with the best quality and safety reputation,” says Wilkes.

Next Stop: A Doctor of Nursing Practice
James will graduate with her MSN, infection prevention and control specialization in 2015. “It’s been a very positive experience so far, despite that I was a little nervous about going to school online,” she says. “I’ve been very pleased with the personal education provided by the professors and the quality of the education.”

James is so pleased that she is considering going for her Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership (DNP) degree to help fulfill one of her other career goals: teaching as an adjunct professor at nearby Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

“With Michelle’s goal of obtaining her DNP and her MSN, with specialization in infection prevention and control, she is likely to find herself as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing teaching infection prevention in the near future,” adds Wilkes.

Learn more about American Sentinel University’s online nursing degree and certificate programs at

About American Sentinel University
American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited online degree programs in nursing, informatics, MBA Healthcare, DNP Executive Leadership and DNP Educational Leadership. Its affordable, flexible bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), of One Dupont Circle, NW Suite 530, Washington, D.C., 20036. The DNP program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) of 3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850, Atlanta, Ga., 30326. The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), of 1601 18th St., NW, Suite 2, Washington, D.C. 20009. The Accrediting Commission of DETC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. For required student consumer information, please visit:

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