Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Christensen (Cox)
By: MMACHS Staff
Today we catch up with Stephanie Christensen a 2008 MMACHS graduate and current Cardiology Nurse Practitioner in Omaha, Nebraska.
What did your education look like after you left our hallways?
After graduating from MMACHS I attended the University of Idaho with the intention of pursuing a career in the medical field, but really wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go. Throughout my time at U of I, it became more clear to me that a career in Nursing with the goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner was most in line with my personal and professional interests and values. I graduated from U of I in 2012 with a Bachelor's degree in Biology. During my senior year at U of I, my advisor recommended I consider an accelerated BSN program and mentioned that a former student enjoyed their experience in Creighton University's nursing program. I applied to several different accelerated nursing programs and found that the one year accelerated BSN program at Creighton would be the best fit for me. I packed my bags and moved out to Omaha, Nebraska to start the program. It was a whirlwind of a year, but I really enjoyed the program and graduated in 2013 with my BSN and a job lined up here in Omaha at Creighton University Medical Center in the critical care float pool. After 2-3 years of bedside nursing, I decided it was time to go back to school. I was accepted into the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care DNP program at Creighton University with an emphasis in Cardiology. I was able to work part-time and pursue my degree as a full-time student. This degree was a lot of hard work, but is also the degree I am most proud of. I graduated with honors in 2019 with my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and passed ANCC boards shortly thereafter.
Where are you working now? What does a typical day look like? What do you enjoy about your job?
During my time as a nurse, I was really drawn to caring for cardiac patients and was very interested in the concepts of Cardiology as well, which has led me to my current position. Nowadays I work in a Cardiology practice with CHI Health in Omaha, Nebraska. A typical day of work includes seeing cardiac patients both in the hospital and in the clinic for follow up. I round with an attending physician when we are seeing patients in the hospital. The majority of the patients we see are presenting with heart failure, heart rhythm problems, or coronary disease (heart attacks), but we see patients with a wide range of cardiac issues which help make my job interesting. There is always something new to learn! Fortunately I work with a group that promotes their APPs (advanced practice professionals) practicing to the full extent of our scope of practice. This means that I see patients independently in the cardiology clinic for follow up. I also get to do outreach clinics in some smaller rural towns in Iowa. This is really rewarding for me and where I feel like I can make a big impact on the lives of my patients. We get to discuss their diagnoses, medications, procedures, and lifestyle choices. It's very rewarding to work with patients and see their quality of life improve with our help. Now that I have been a nurse practitioner for a few years, I am able to help precept NP and PA students which is something that I also really enjoy.
What have you been up outside of work?
During my time here in Omaha in the accelerated BSN program I ended up meeting my now husband. We got married in 2016 and had our first kiddo, Audrey, in October 2021. She is so much fun and we love spending time outside together and traveling as a family. We make it back to Boise a couple of times each year.
Looking back, what do you remember about your time at MMACHS?
I really enjoyed my time at MMACHS and appreciated having a curriculum that reflected my interest in science and medicine. My favorite teachers were Mr. Melby (math) and Mr. Kinnaman. It was evident even as a student that they enjoyed teaching, took the time to make complicated concepts interesting, and cared about us as individuals. They really helped to foster my love of learning and ongoing curiosity about the world.
A huge thank you to Stephanie for filling us in on her journey. Check back in next week for another alumni spotlight!