American Sentinel University Recognizes Nursing Students Dedicated to Patient Care for National Nurses Week

– Advanced Education Plays Key Role in Providing High-Quality Patient Care –

AURORA, Colo. – May 5, 2015 – American Sentinel University is proud to celebrate the role nurses play in delivering the highest level of quality care to their patients during National Nurses Week May 6 – 12 and honor five students as ‘Extra Mile Achievers’ who go above and beyond their daily nursing tasks to improve patient care, community health and the nursing profession.

“Nursing is a field that requires dedication and hard work from those who practice it,” says Karen Whitham, EdD, RN, CNE, assistant dean, undergraduate nursing programs at American Sentinel University. “This year’s National Nurses Week theme ‘Ethical Practice Quality Care’ recognizes the importance of ethics in nursing and acknowledges the strong commitment, compassion and care nurses display in their profession. We are privileged to recognize those students that have played an important role to advocate for the health and safety of their patients while advancing the practice of nursing.”

Many nurses find ways to go the extra mile for their patients and working to improve the nursing profession and American Sentinel’s students, and nursing students are no exception.  

-On April 15, 2013, the day of the Boston Marathon, Stephen Sladek, a then first year BSN student and operating room nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston pushed his emotions aside and relied on his knowledge and training to care for patients who were victims of the bombing.

Sladek credits being an active member in BSN classes for his critical thinking skills and says that his experience as a BSN student had been a team approach and that played an important role in his collaborative ability to assure his readiness to care for multiple victims.

-After serving as a U.S. Army and infantry medic and licensed practical nurse (LPN), Jeff Berendsen decided to use his military training to become a nurse manager and care for fellow vets at the St. Louis VA Medical Center.

“With my military background, working at the St. Louis VA Medical Center has been the right decision. There’s a certain bond that military veterans have with one another – like a brotherhood. Being a vet and taking care of other vets is a great feeling,” he says.

-Becky Shelley, an MSN nursing graduate, specialized in nursing education and used her MSN training to create the Daytona Beach Veterans Affairs Patient Education program, as well as the MOVE! National Weight Management Program for Veterans.

Fueled by the success of her work building the Daytona Beach Veteran’s Affairs Patient Education Programs, Shelley says she envisions teaching as an adjunct at the local community college.  “My education helped me learn how to design classes that are successful at getting students excited and engaged. As a teacher, I want to be able to work with students and know that learning has transpired.”

-After earning her BSN, Debi Rafferty, a labor and delivery nurse at Delaware County Memorial in Drexel Hill, Pa., is now earning her MSN with both a nursing informatics and nursing education specialization so that she can help her hospital become more computerized and continue teaching nursing programs at Harcum College.

“School made me more aware of everything, from how the hospital runs to how to achieve the goal of providing high-quality patient care,” says Rafferty. “My informatics knowledge will help the hospital become more computerized.”

-MSN candidate Michelle James, a nurse manager at Kindred Healthcare in Louisville, Ky., plans to use her specialization in infection prevention and control to provide Kindred Healthcare with a comprehensive infection prevention plan. Her goal is to place Kindred in a position for maximum reimbursement for quality and safety of care, and ranking as one of the top hospitals with the best quality and safety reputation.

“My education allows me to make a bigger difference in my organization to keep infections down at our facility, thereby affecting the quality of patient care we provide,” says James. She will graduate with her MSN later in 2015 and plans to become an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing teaching infection prevention in the near future.

These student anecdotes involve circumstances that many nurses may never have experienced, yet Whitham says even when nurses are not faced with a patient who has dramatic needs or challenges, there are many ways they can go the extra mile for their patients, in general, to work for improvements in the healthcare environment.

Whitham explains that mentoring a younger nurse may be seen as a form of patient advocacy. Sharing knowledge with new or less experienced nurses can make a positive impact on their professional development – thereby enhancing their ability to provide high-quality nursing care.

“When you seize on every opportunity to act as an informal mentor, you can provide coaching, advice, and an empathetic ear to someone who needs a sounding board – all in an unstructured, casual manner. It’s a great way to advance the nursing practice at your hospital and throughout the profession,” she adds.

But Whitham points out that the greatest way for a nurse to go the extra mile for their patients is to advance their education.

“Continued personal and professional growth is a necessity for the professional nurse,” she says. “The continuous acquisition of knowledge, such as advancing to a role as a baccalaureate prepared nurse, improves the healthcare environment by providing relevant knowledge regarding the standard of nursing practice.”

Of greater importance, Whitham notes that nurses with advanced education are prepared to meet today’s demands with skills in critical thinking, leadership, and health promotion to meet the highest standards of patient care.

“Healthcare is changing and nurses can only do so much for your patients without advancing their education. Advanced nursing programs helps nurses to develop skills and open minds to new ideas and new models of care – resulting in the highest possible standard of patient care that you’re able to provide,” she says.

American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees, including an RN-to-BSN program and advanced degree programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case management, infection prevention and control, nursing education, nursing informatics and nursing management and organizational leadership.

Learn more about American Sentinel University’s online degree programs at or call 866.922.5690.

About American Sentinel University
American Sentinel University delivers 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. American Sentinel University is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, DEAC (Formerly Distance Education and Training Council-DETC), 1601 18th Street N.W., Suite 2, Washington D.C. 20009, (202) 234-5100, For required student consumer information, please visit:

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