She’d been out of school for more than 20 years. Having graduated with a nursing degree in 1996, Kelli Buckley wore many hats as she helped patients, nurses and everyone in between. Recalling her experience in the field, Buckley said, “I’ve always been kind of attracted to being boots on the ground and being able to be in the midst of everything. You’re able to help patients, you’re able to help nurses and you’re able to strengthen leadership.”
While she certainly found satisfaction in directly benefiting so many people’s lives, she felt like she wasn’t being challenged enough. Therefore, after 20 years of service in nursing, she decided to challenge herself in the classroom, and the reward would be well worth it in the end.
Gearing Up for a Major Change
Buckley did a lot of research as she considered pursuing graduate school. While she lives and works in the Chicago area, she found that location had nothing to do with her decision to attend Saint Xavier University (SXU). Instead, she saw the reviews and how the program ranked overall as the major motivating factors in applying to SXU.
More importantly, she found the flexible, 100% online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program fit her life perfectly. Though she had concerns throughout the application process, she focused on the numerous benefits and chose to submit her materials.
One area that she was nervous about was writing. Even though she had a good handle on the technical writing aspect of her job as a nurse, she found that the style of writing required for contributing to discussion boards and completing research papers in a master’s program had completely different expectations. Her other concern was being able to find information. When she worked at the hospital, she was able to rely on the help of in-house librarians.
Buckley admits that while finding the tools was the biggest hurdle she had to navigate, she was relieved to be offered thorough support from her advisor and other online resources to help alleviate her writing and research qualms.
Taking Her Career to the Next Level
Buckley found the Executive Leadership track to be one of the most attractive offerings of SXU. Before she enrolled in courses, she had already been working in a hospital that focused on nursing and nursing leadership. As she considered the new career opportunities at the hospital where she worked, she decided to take the next step in her career growth by pursuing a master’s in nursing.
Through the program, Buckley was able to pick up a number of skills that she immediately applied to her work life. For one, she found that she was able to keep up with current trends in the field and found them adaptable to her own practices and professional behaviors. She also discovered that health policy was especially important as a growing trend in nursing. As a direct result from her experience in the online MSN program in Executive Leadership, she’s been able to “learn how to speak a different language,” which allowed her to engage in meetings and contribute to issues that have impacted her group of nurses.
Buckley said, “The content of the classes was similar to what I was familiar with, but now I have the language required to advance my career.”
Additionally, she found being an alumnus of the program a significant perk. Before she entered the program, she didn’t know anyone who’d gone through it, but once she started telling her colleagues and friends, more and more shared with her how they’d also attended SXU and had great experiences. As she spoke with more people, she realized her span of networking and resources grew greatly.
Since Buckley graduated in 2019, she’s already achieved professional advancement. After graduation, she was promoted to Director of Ambulatory Oncology Nursing, leading oncology nurses in her hospital’s network.
When she reflects on SXU’s online MSN program’s strengths, she’ll always remember the direct, personalized support she received in a time of panic early in her graduate student career. Buckley recollects, “I was sitting in my car, and I asked my advisor ‘what about this?’ ‘What about that?’ And it was a Saturday, and she spent the whole time talking to me trying to talk me off the ledge…These people care about me. I felt like it was above and beyond what I expected.”