Life-Long Learning in Action

“I’d always wanted a bachelor’s degree. It was just a race to see if I’d get my degree or I’d retire first,” laughs Sheila Smith, BSN, RN. The nurse navigator at Washington Cancer Institute is one of a number of veteran Hospital Center nurses who return to college each year to earn a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree. Smith, who turned 66 this summer and has been at the Hospital Center for 10 years, proudly notes she graduated from Trinity Nursing School the same year as her granddaughter graduated from college.

For Catherine Flack, BSN, RN, it was a matter of finally having time to get her degree. Her 20-year-old son is now in college and “that’s when I went to college myself. It wasn’t easy!” Flack, who has been at the Hospital Center for 28 years and works in the perioperative admissions testing center, begins studying for a Master’s in Nursing this fall. “I’m a good teacher, and we need teachers for nursing school.”

Both credit their supervisors and the Hospital Center with providing the support, scheduling flexibility and tuition reimbursement that helped them achieve their education goals. “We are lifelong learners,” says Flack. “You won’t find a better place to make that education happen.”