Nurse Practitioner Reveals Value of Master’s in Nursing Degree

posted by

Yvonne Grigsby


Yvonne Grigsby, director of health services at The Forum at The Crossing in Indianapolis, Ind. earned her Master of Science in Nursing and Nurse Practitioner in 2001 after recognizing the value of advanced education in the nursing field. While Yvonne enrolled in on-ground nursing programs, King University offers online MSN degree programs for the working nurse looking for more flexibility out of their education.

We sat down with Yvonne to learn about her pursuit of advanced nursing education, and its value to her overall career path. Read on to see what she has to say about her career and her nursing education.



Explain your educational path as it relates to your career

My educational path began as a dream at 18 years old and culminated with my first vocational degree in 1988. For the next 10 years, I was in my dream career working in diverse settings from the physician’s office and the oncology unit to the rehabilitation hospital and beyond. A kind physician suggested that I take my education to the next level and pursue an advanced practice degree in nursing. With much support from family and colleagues, I enrolled full time at a well-respected college with a highly revered nursing program. My short-term goal was to obtain my RN degree, which was the next rung on my career ladder.

Two years later, I graduated with an associate in nursing and was recruited by a local liberal arts college to enroll in an RN to BSN program designed for adult learners. I successfully passed the NCLEX exam and continued on my career path. After 19 months, I graduated cum laude and was again recruited to enroll in a master’s-level program for advanced practice nurses. My excitement and passion for nursing and nursing education never waned. With unbridled support of my three teenagers and husband, I successfully completed the traditional program for nurse practitioners with a focus on primary care of the adult and geriatric patient.

As an advanced practice nurse, I have had the opportunity to touch lives and make a difference in ways I never dreamed of as a young woman with an unchartered course. My continued educational pursuits have equipped me to be all that I can be, and I’m still learning.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree?

I decided to pursue a career in nursing at a young age. Looking back, it always mattered to me that I was helping someone else, that I was fixing something. I was a natural born leader and chose to channel that leadership trait into something higher than a career. It really became my calling, and it still is.

What MSN course has been most beneficial in your career?

The MSN course that has been the most beneficial to my career was Transitions in Nursing. In this class, I learned the difference between a nurse and nursing. The key element to being a successful nurse is critical thinking. This involves asking a lot of questions and looking deeper than what is on the surface. In diagnosing a patient with multiple, often vague symptoms, one must stop and ask the question “What else could this be?” It may not be the obvious answer.

What drew you to geriatric care and eventually the Alzheimer’s unit?

My first job as an LPN was in a geriatric setting as a night shift supervisor. I knew a little about being a nurse and absolutely nothing about how to manage people, much less a multi-unit long-term care facility. So, I partnered with my staff who are a group of seasoned nurses that knew how to take care of their patients and learned a lot. That experience set the standard for my career. Although I have had many wonderful opportunities to use my nursing skills, I have channeled my passion and expertise to the geriatric population. With my Alzheimer patients, I have learned to “join their journey.”

What are your day-to-day job responsibilities?

Day-to-day responsibilities in my current role include management of 50-plus staff persons in a campus setting that includes independent living, home health, Alzheimer’s unit and skilled rehabilitation services for the geriatric population. From state and federal regulatory compliance to simple customer service, I am responsible to ensure quality care and cost containment. Patient-focused care is my daily theme as my patients set my agenda. My personal motto is “Whatever it takes, and then some!”

How will advanced education play a role in the growth of health care?

Advanced education is already playing a role in health care. Hospitals, among other medical facilities, are phasing out the vocational nurse and replacing them with bachelor’s- and master’s-prepared nurses. The reason is that advanced education brings a new level of commitment, a broader depth of knowledge, refined analytical skills and diversity in role development. From academia to administration, the opportunities are unlimited. As health care becomes more complex and America ages, the need for higher education will supersede the technical aspect of nursing. The “expert clinician” will become the face of health care as physician extenders and professional mentors.

Do you have any tips for students looking into a career as a nurse practitioner?

I remember the time in my life when I made the decision to spread my wings. From an LPN to an advanced practice nurse, I started a journey of almost six years. Risks? Yes, including family issues, significant financial adjustments and lifestyle changes. Each rung of the ladder was harder, but the view was worth it. Advanced opportunities, professional growth, personal satisfaction – it doesn’t get any better in this business.