By Geneva Nodland, Marketing Intern
Although MSUM is offering a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) this fall, the university has provided various nursing programs for more than 40 years. Jennifer Kastl is an alumna of those programs.
In 2013, Jennifer graduated from MSUM with her bachelor’s degree in nursing through the RN to BSN program. She was grateful to work full time while pursuing that degree, but she had more to accomplish. She was inspired by her time working toward her bachelor’s degree and continued on to get her master’s degree in nursing administration. Jennifer was part of the first class to graduate from MSUM with that degree in 2016.
“I knew I wanted to be a manager one day, so I was so excited when MSUM announced their master’s in nursing administration program. I just jumped right in,” she said.
After graduating, she explored various areas within the nursing field. She has done a lot in her nine years as a nurse and says that is one of her favorite things about the profession.
“I started out as a nurse on the floor, then I became a charge nurse in a procedural area, and now I’m in management. I feel like I’ve been in three different worlds.”
Jennifer’s nursing career began back in her third year of high school, and now years later she works as a manager at Sanford Health. She oversees about 80 nurses, which includes various tasks like aiding them with any concerns they have while providing patient care, facilitating the schedule, and hiring staff.
Jennifer said the RN to BSN’s online format and low cost were the biggest factors in choosing MSUM. She later discovered the benefits of her faculty connections and the campus community.
“The sense of community and culture when you come to campus, and even when I come back, is nice,” she said, “The instructors walked in nurses’ shoes, so the real-life experience they bring and how they can relate to that is important to me.”
During her undergraduate program, she traveled to Nicaragua with other students and set up a clinic. To meet her required clinic and hospital hours in her master’s program, Jennifer worked with her advisor to find a spot in the community that would help her gain an understanding of what her career would look like after graduation.
“My advisor set me up for success,” Jennifer said, “They checked in with me throughout my practicum, making sure I felt comfortable with my decision to go for my master’s.”
Jennifer was impressed with the way MSUM’s program allowed her these experiences. After graduation, she recalls her first year as a nurse as one of the most challenging experiences but found comfort in her peers.
“In your first year you might ask yourself, ‘did I make the right choice?’ but know that once you get through that, you’ll be fine,” she said, “When you’re in the unit, everyone is in it together as a team, and it doesn’t feel like you’re isolated because everyone is in the same boat.”
Her advice to nursing students is to have a plan, like whether or not to work during their education. In Jennifer’s experience, the university was accommodating and knew the steps she needed to take from start to finish to be successful.
“To be in leadership, I had to have that foundation, and MSUM gave me that. My education really prepared me for the role I’m in.”
“To be in leadership, I had to have that foundation, and MSUM gave me that. My education really prepared me for the role I’m in,” she said.
Jennifer’s experience with the online BSN program and master’s program were extremely positive, and she’s excited for future nurses in the new BSN program, which offers an on-campus curriculum.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for students. We desperately need more nurses, and having a program that will allow for more nursing students and more nurses locally is exciting,” she said.
To learn more about the BSN program, or MSUM’s other nursing programs, go to mnstate.edu/nursing.