When Jody Kutchko went to college in the mid-1990s, she never thought that one day she would become a nurse. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in finance and struggling to find a job, she decided to join the Army—the first female in her family to do so.
Over the next eight years Jody traveled to various areas throughout the world for her annual training, such as Texas, Egypt and Germany. Just before getting deployed to Kuwait in 2003, she decided that she wanted to make a change in her career. Jody sought to help soldiers in the military by pursuing a career in nursing. She started taking nursing school prerequisites before her deployment and was accepted into a local nursing school program but had to put nursing school on hold until she returned home. She returned home from Kuwait in 2005 and started at nursing school in Pittsburgh, PA. She graduated in 2007.
Veterans Administration Healthcare System
In 2008, Jody started her career at the Veterans Administration Healthcare System in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a clinical staff nurse on an acute dual diagnosis inpatient psychiatric unit. “I enjoy helping patients, whether they are suffering from substance abuse or a geriatric patient,” she says. “It feels good to see the patients make progress and know that I made a difference in their lives.” Along the way, Jody earned the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 2010 at another university in Pennsylvania.
In 2012, Jody volunteered as a nurse case manager on an active-duty assignment with the Army’s Warrior Transition Program in Utah. “I like being able to help injured soldiers navigate through their medical care and see them progress in their treatment program,” she says. “It can be overwhelming to know what’s out there for them. I have learned a lot through the years that I have been in the Army, so I try to help educate them on their medical benefits.”
American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Sciences
In 2016, Jody started a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program. After 18 months into the program, she decided that the career path was not a good fit for her and stopped. She volunteered for a two-year active-duty tour as a nurse case manager at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Walter Reed, Maryland, in their Warrior Transition Programs. A coworker told her about American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Post University.
I knew how much I liked case management,” Jody says. “I enjoy helping patients on a different level compared to inpatient nursing.” Jody liked what she learned about American Sentinel and enrolled in May 2019 in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in Case Management. “Everyone I talked with was excellent from the start. The support for military students was wonderful too. I liked that I could incorporate what I enjoyed doing as a case manager into an MSN program. I knew that would be a good fit for me.”
A Good Learning Experience
Jody hopes to complete the program in January 2023. “It’s been a really good learning experience overall,” she says. “The instructors are great to work with and I’m learning so much about the civilian side of case management.”
Jody still works for the VA Healthcare System and hopes to open the door for a role in case management. “I believe I will be a much stronger candidate with this degree,” she says. “I believe I can incorporate the knowledge I’m gaining in this MSN program into my work in helping veterans find resources in the civilian sector.”
Being a student at American Sentinel, Jody adds, has been a fulfilling experience. “I would definitely recommend others go to American Sentinel,” she says. “This program was very high quality and the American Sentinel staff is great. They really do enjoy helping others.”