Changing Healthcare Requirements Prompt Registered Nurses to Continue Their Education Online
To call Chamberlain alumna Lori Gutierrez, BSN, RN-C, DON-CLTC, accomplished is a bit of an understatement. In her 35 years in nursing, she has gone from staff nurse to her current position on the Arizona State Board of Nursing, where she helps provides oversight to all of the nurses in the state.
It’s already been quite the journey – but as Lori began considering her next step, she realized that she was going to need to return to school.
Lori earned an associate degree in nursing in 1980. She became a board-certified geriatrics nurse and long-term care specialist and eventually rose to the position of director of nursing and then vice president of clinical operations for a managed care operation.
A bachelor’s degree in business helped her as she worked in sales for patient care products, owned her own business as a long-term care consultant, and served as a speaker and clinical educator for long-term care providers on topics such as osteoporosis, fall prevention and depression in the senior population.
In 2009, Lori’s varied career took another turn when she was nominated by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to the state board of nursing, representing long-term care. She was reappointed in October 2014.
In her position on the board, she helps provide oversight to the state’s certified nursing assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including providing recommendations on disciplinary action. In addition, Lori also chairs the board’s scope of practice committee, where she helps draft advisory opinions that clarify regulations and help give direction to both nurses and employers throughout the state.
“Serving on the board allows me to help keep the public safe and serve the profession that I love,” she said.
Despite her many accomplishments, Lori knew that the next step in her career called for additional education.
“Throughout my years, I always wanted to get my bachelor’s degree in nursing but never really had a reason to,” she said. “The older I get, the more I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to do for the rest of my career. My end goal is to teach, and to teach, I need my master’s degree.”
And so 32 years after earning her associate degree, she decided to take the plunge and enroll in Chamberlain College of Nursing’s RN to BSN degree completion option. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at age 55.
“It was scary to go back to school,” she said. “But it really helped me understand my nursing career, especially my role as a nurse leader. I learned a lot about evidence-based practice, nursing theory and leadership. I loved it.”
At her graduation in February 2015, the audience included her husband, sons, grandson, mother and 93-year-old father – the person who encouraged her to become a nurse in the first place.
On the next step to her goal of becoming an educator, Lori is now pursuing her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree at Chamberlain, with an expected graduation date of December 2016.
Reflecting on where’s she’s been and where she’s headed, Lori said, “It has been a phenomenal career.” And she’s only getting started.