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Why Saving One Man's Life Changed This Nurse's Career

Jan 17, 2019

There’s nothing like the feeling of being in the right place at the right time. In your career. In your life. In someone else’s life.

Just ask Kristine Perry, whose career has tracked from ER nurse to firefighter medic to forensic nurse examiner and, ultimately, to a position of nursing leadership at a hospital in the Pacific Northwest. The high standards she continues to set for herself have led to an ongoing series of professional accomplishments, academic achievements, and life-changing experiences.

The crystallization of Kristine’s grit and determination to help others may have played out in the back of an ambulance where, as the lead medic tending to the needs of a critically ill patient, she refused to give up and ultimately played a key role in his survival.

Six months after that harrowing transport, the fire department received an invitation to the man’s 72nd birthday, and Kristine new her calling in life had been made clear: “I was there and got to see him bouncing his great‑grandkids on his knee, and I realized this is my career.”

“You've got to follow your gut.”

Careers in nursing rarely follow a prescribed, linear path, but one of the many advantages of being a nurse is the ongoing education and specialization that can open up new avenues to pursue and fresh opportunities to explore. For Kristine, the seed was planted when a friend and fellow forensic nurse recommended she check out Western Governors University and its highly acclaimed degree programs in healthcare and nursing.

“Early in my nursing career, I had always thought I would get my master’s degree, and leadership and management had always been a track that I was interested in.” Fortunately for Kristine, she found a school and curriculum at WGU that offered her the freedom and flexibility to study and learn at her own pace – and one that would apply her significant professional and life experiences towards the completion of her requiring coursework, thereby accelerating her timeline to graduation.

WGU’s RN-MSN is CCNE-accredited and designed to help graduates become transformational leaders the rapidly evolving healthcare industry demands. Kristine studied topics including leadership theories, strategic planning, and financial and HR management as they apply to modern healthcare settings. “To see what was new not only in the field of nursing, but where I could go in my thinking with my master's was... amazing to me,” she said.

“Having my degree has allowed me to think about where I want to go next.”

Although Kristine currently holds a position that does not specifically require a master’s degree, she has been asked to head up a new program at her hospital that will.

“Because of my experience and my master’s, I know how to build this program from the ground up,” she said. “I’m excited, and I never would've had such an opportunity without this degree. I wouldn't have even considered it ‑‑ or attempted it.”

The National League for Nursing named WGU’s nursing programs a Center of Excellence™ in Nursing Education for creating environments that enhance student learning and professional development. Over 3,300 graduates of WGU’s MSN in Leadership and Management have gone on to assume important roles at major employers including Anthem, Ascension Health, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the U.S. Army, and the UCLA Health System.

“Just go for it.”

Kristine’s enrollment counselor and student mentor at WGU played key roles in helping her understand how an advanced education could open doors and opportunities she had not previously considered.

“My student mentor was an amazing source of encouragement and resources,” she said. “She not only helped me see what was new in the field of nursing, but how far I could go in the field once I’d completed my master's degree.”

If you are a nurse with aspirations to demonstrate transformational leadership in the workplace and promote high-quality patient care, take it from someone who has been there, done that, and looks toward even more amazing opportunities down the road.

“Nursing is an amazing field,” Perry said. “You can make a good living whether you work two to three days a week or full‑time. Because of my degree, I've got the credentials to be able to write my own ticket. I really have no closed doors to me right now. And there's no ceiling.”

Start writing the script to your own amazing story in the field of nursing. Then, come back to share your WGU experiences with us once you’ve reached the pinnacle of a satisfying, rewarding career. You’re in the right place at the right time to get started!

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