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When Mark Strickland decided to go to college a couple of years after graduating high school in Mississippi, he narrowed his options to cardiopulmonary science, medical technician studies and nursing. “I was interested in healthcare and good at math, so I ended up getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of South Alabama,” says Mark. The work came naturally to him, and it wasn’t long before he fell in love with his chosen career path—and sought opportunities to continue growing and learning.

A Start in Hospitals

Mark’s career began in the University of South Alabama Hospitals, where he gained clinical experience in many different units, including the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU), long-term care, rehabilitation, post-anesthesia care unit, post-anesthesia critical care, medical ICU, trauma ICU, surgical ICU, burn ICU, neurosurgery ICU and pediatric intensive care. A move to Florida in 1995 led him to Florida Hospital, where he worked his way up from staff nurse to nurse manager before joining the Florida Hospital Foundation to work in rural clinics and villages in other countries.

A Quest to Improve Emergency Departments

Seeking a new opportunity and challenge, Mark, for several years, was a travel nurse, working in various countries and U.S. states. Due to his wide exposure to different emergency departments, he started a consulting business to help hospitals improve them. To equip himself with the skills, he pursued an MBA from Southern Adventist University in 2004 and a Ph.D. in health services administration in 2006.

That year, Mark moved to New Mexico and started Emergency Services Improvement Solutions, providing emergency department service line enhancements, assistance in expansions, coaching for physicians and new managers, and more. When he moved back to Florida in 2013, he expanded his healthcare experience even more as a clinical research nurse, managing studies for new pharmaceuticals, medical devices, stem-cell research and procedures. In 2016, he returned to the hospital, working primarily in the operating room—yet another new experience to add to his skill set.

An Unexpected Dream Job

In 2019, Mark was recruited to join the Cardiac Specialty Institute, a role in which he visits hospitalized cardiac patients and helps them manage their care. “I truly love what I do,” he says. After two years on the job, Mark learned a great deal about cardiology but realized that he needed further education to fully deliver the type of care he wanted to give. What would help him do so? The Master of Science with a Nurse Practitioner Specialization.

“I started exploring MSN degrees with Nurse Practitioner Specializations, and a nurse I worked with mentioned that her daughter was attending American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Post University,” Mark says. “I looked into their program and was so impressed with the affordability and the curriculum.” Mark started the Nurse Practitioner program at in April 2021.

MSN Nurse Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Specialization

With a 2024 completion date in mind, Mark says that the knowledge gained in areas new to him has been the highlight of the Nurse Practitioner Specialization. “American Sentinel has been great, and I’m really liking how we apply what we know already to what we learn in class,” he says.

As for future career goals, Mark is excited to be able to influence patient care even more as a Nurse Practitioner. “I love cardiology because I am always learning something new. I’ll continue to do that, but I’m earning this master’s degree because I want to practice to the fullest extent of my knowledge.”