How She Did It: Sharon Gunn
Occupation: Clinical Nurse Specialist, or CNS
Location: Baylor Health Care System
Why she wanted to enter the field: Clinical Nurse Specialists are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. We are educated as expert clinicians in specific areas of nursing practice. We look at patient outcomes, nursing practice, and hospital systems and implement proven techniques to insure that the best care possible is delivered. I had practiced in Critical Care for about 18 years as a staff nurse, charge nurse and nurse educator. I wanted to obtain my Masters of Science in Nursing, or MSN, degree as a CNS so that I could take nursing practice in my facility to the next level. As a CNS I learned how to implement practice change in hospital settings, how to work with other health care disciplines to achieve optimal patient outcomes, and quantify the value of nursing practice to patient outcomes such as hospital length of stay, safety during hospitalization, and patient satisfaction, to name a few. As a Registered Nurse, it is important for me to make a difference: a difference in patient care, nursing practice, and future health care needs.
How she entered the field: I worked in various nursing roles in the Critical Care Department at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for 18 years. I knew I could learn more and do more with an advanced nursing degree. The opportunities and challenges offered to me by becoming a CNS are endless.
How she paid for it: Hospital reimbursement, Texas Christian University educational grant, and out of pocket.
Most memorable experience thus far: Implementing a delirium screening program throughout the Baylor system critical care department. We demonstrated that nursing practices were vital to reducing the number of people who became delirious in the hospital. Delirium prevention is important in reducing costs, complications, and long term memory difficulties in our patients.
Would she do it all over again: Most definitely. In fact, I would have become a CNS sooner.
One career tip for others: Don't let the thought of going back to school hold you back! I worked full time while doing my online nursing degree at TCU. The faculty were fantastic and very understanding of students' having to work while going to school.
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