Nurse's career blossoms through drive, tuition help

About a month ago Sara Hissong, BSN, RN-BC, let out a sigh of relief.

After completing eight classes, back-to-back, two at a time for the past eight months, the patient care manager at Carle’s Mahomet location finished her bachelor of science in nursing degree from Chamberlin College.

But that’s not all.

She did that while transitioning to her new position in Mahomet and being a wife and a mother of two daughters.

Her actions showcase dedication to the nursing profession, which she believes is about lifelong education and a firm focus on patient care.  

During this recent frantic stretch, Hissong also learned how to manage career progression, academic pursuits and a busy home life. But she hasn’t even had time to understand all that she’s accomplished.

“Not yet!” she said. “Maybe once I have some time back on weekends, then it will set in. I did this because I think  nursing is a field that requires constant learning. You don’t rest on your laurels as a nurse, and Carle offers us the right incentives to pursue furthering our education.”

Specifically, Hissong said tuition assistance helped make her path manageable.

This program provides $4,000 over the course of a full calendar year for full-time employees. Part-time employees receive $2,000. The program is in partnership with more than 30 colleges.

Hissong described this financial support as “a tremendous opportunity and was one I took because I knew my continued progress here depended on it.”

When she started pursuing her bachelor’s degree, Hissong was a coordinator in the Allergy department. She now has been at Carle a total of seven years, starting as a nurse in Post-Partum, OB, the Newborn Nursery and Antepartum. She also spent three years in Family Medicine at Carle on Curtis.

After moving up to her coordinator position in Allergy, she quickly earned a supervisor position at Carle on Windsor. Then in December she accepted her current position in Mahomet.

As she climbed the ladder, Hissong’s desire to finish her degree became stronger. That’s why she crammed it all in over the last eight months, but the experience was worth it.

Now, she can tick off a few ways she grew from her education in nursing:

  • “Thinking about my education, I really benefited by seeing things through the big picture. This allows me a greater understanding of what we do and how we try to do it.”
  • “I’ve also learned how to drive change and how to involve your staff in change.”
  • “I gained a different outlook on time management – both in my personal and professional life. I feel like I have learned how to prioritize the right way and still expect to get things done.”
  • “Finally, I’ve learned how to focus on implementing evidence-based change to best focus on our patients.”

While her growth equates to an even better nursing leader for Carle, it also means Hissong is fulfilling the goal she's had since fourth grade.

“I still have a paper that I wrote then that my grandma saved. In it I talked about how I wanted to be a nurse and work with the babies,” Hissong said. “I’ve always known that I wanted to be a nurse, and I still get a kick out of the way we can make a difference in somebody’s life.”

She also believes Carle is a great place to make that dream come true, a point she’s proven through her own dedication.

Apply or learn more about being a nurse here.