Nancy Keenan, RN

Nancy KeenanMS degree in Nursing with a specialization in Leadership and Management, 2008

CURRENT JOB: Vice President/Chief Nurse Executive at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, Texarkana, Texas

HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT WALDEN? One of the instructors at a nursing school in town told me about Walden's master's degree in Nursing.

WHY DID YOU ENROLL? I was a diploma nurse with a bachelor's in health care administration and a master's in business. My hospital was working toward achieving Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and one of the requirements was that the nurse executive have a degree in nursing, so I went back to school to meet those qualifications.

WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE PROGRAM? Walden reemphasized the importance of concepts like evidence-based practice and shared governance in building an infrastructure for my nursing team. I've been a nurse executive for 17 years—Walden brought to light aspects of my nursing practice that required more emphasis and validated many of the actions that I had already taken.

SINCE THEN, HOW MANY NURSES HAVE YOU REFERRED TO WALDEN? I've referred three nursing directors and one clinical coordinator. All four are in the program right now.

WHY DO YOU REFER THEM TO WALDEN? My goal is to get my staff back into school to obtain their bachelor's or master's degree in nursing. Walden is convenient for people who are already working full time. When you have multiple priorities, you obviously can't go to school during the day, so I recommend Walden because people can work it into their schedules and earn a degree on their own terms.

WHAT ARE YOUR REFERRAL CONVERSATIONS LIKE? People's biggest concerns usually revolve around how much time and effort the degree is going to take and the process for getting started. I tell them that the enrollment advisor is very helpful and will guide them through the entrance process. In respect to time commitment, I acknowledged that it is a significant commitment but if they are determined, Walden gives them the means to accomplish the goal.

WHAT HAS REFERRING SHOWN YOU? I wish I had known about Walden sooner. I wasn't a young chick when I started—53 years old and going for a master's degree. I guess I needed someone to take me by the hand, which is what I'm doing for people now. I think we all need someone to say to us at one point or another, “I did it and you can do it too.” If you look at the bigger goal it seems overwhelming, but if you take it one piece at a time you're there before you know it.

Refer someone to Walden. If you've already referred someone who is a current student at Walden, send an email to

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