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Even though his mother was a nurse for 40 years, Milton Clark says his plan as a first-year college student was to become an electrical engineer.

“I graduated high school at 16 years old, and having attended small schools my entire life, a large university overwhelmed me,” says Milton, who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. After a year of college, Milton returned home and took a few months to regroup. He then enrolled at a nearby community college. “My mom encouraged me to think about the potential of nursing, which was a stable career that offered the chance to do a lot of different things.” Eventually, Milton came to the same conclusion.

Finding His Way to Psychiatric Nursing

After earning an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Nursing degree and becoming a Registered Nurse in 1995, Milton joined a small community hospital as a medical-surgical nurse. While there, he got a second part-time job in behavioral health. “I fell in love with psychiatric nursing,” Milton says. “I have the demeanor and the heart for it, and I communicate well with patients, even when they become aggressive.”

For much of his career, Milton worked in the behavioral health setting, including in other clinical areas along the way, like hospice. In 2003, he began working with adolescent patients, which he found especially rewarding. Milton held various management positions and joined University of Illinois Health as part of its intensive inpatient program.

When Milton lost his mother in 2015, he sought a change and took a utilization review job at a long-term acute hospital. “I was able to help many families who were processing the trauma of losing loved ones, just as I had gone through myself,” he says. He moved into case management for utilization review, working at two different hospitals.

Motivated to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Milton started working from home and thinking about his future. “I have moved around a bit and started to realize that I need to continue working into my 50s and 60s,” he says. The physical aspect of bedside nursing was in the back of his mind as well, and Milton knew that earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and possibly a Master of Science In Nursing (MSN) would strengthen his résumé. “Although I have management experience, a BSN is the minimum requirement for many jobs today.”

A friend recommended American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Post University, and Milton did his own research into the BSN program. “It seemed achievable, and enrollment was simple,” he says. He started the term-based RN to BSN program, but found that the flexibility of the BSN viaSIMPath® fit his life better. “I liked that I could complete as many of the classes as I could handle each 16-week semester. I was able to fit school around my life and work at my own pace.”

Now on to the MSN

After completing the BSN via SIMPath® in November 2023, Milton now has a new goal: to earn the MSN – Nursing Education and Organizational Leadership Specialization. He began the program in this month (December 2023).  “Nurse managers and leaders hold master’s degrees and doctorates, and that drives me forward,” he says. “My mom was always encouraging me to further my education, which is something she did not have an opportunity to do as a single mother. Education opens doors.”

As for why American Sentinel College, Milton says that the fit is undeniable. “I like how encouraging the professors are at Post—they really stood out during the BSN. And I’m familiar with the SIMPath® program, which is great. I just can’t say enough about the University.”

A Worthwhile Experience

Milton admits that he returned to school for practical reasons, but the experience has exceeded his expectations. “I did this to gain credentials I need to take the next steps in my career, but I’ve learned a whole lot about nursing along the way,” he says. “I am so glad I decided to go to Post University, and I’m very happy to have completed the BSN. That gives me a sense of security about future job options. Overall, the investment has definitely been worth it.”