Healthcare Insider Blog

Vast experience enables Mary Arbogast to connect with nursing students across all generations

  • Healthcare Alvernia

Nursing student In her role as the Nursing and Healthcare Outreach Coordinator at Alvernia University, Mary Arbogast is often the first person a prospective nursing student meets. Thanks to her background, she’s able to relate to practically every type of student.

Can she connect with students considering a career in nursing? Yes. She draws upon what she remembered from being a staff nurse in the operating room at Ephrata Hospital and her experience working at Reading Hospital. Mary says she, “grew up in the hospital system,” since both of her parents worked at Reading Hospital. She also owned and operated a legal nurse consulting business and worked in medical debt collections.  Bottom line; she has a wealth of healthcare experience that’s extremely valuable in helping students decide on their next step.

Is it possible for her to truly understand what it’s like to juggle studies with work? Absolutely. She recently earned her master’s degree in healthcare administration while working full time. Mary admits that combining studies with work can be stressful but she says it’s manageable. “Being organized and disciplined are extremely important. Plus, having a good support system is also vital.”

What if a student asks Mary for advice on looking for another job? She again, taps into her past experiences and says, “Do it. Do not stay for one more minute at an employer you feel doesn’t value you. Nothing is more precious than your time- time with your kids, time for yourself, time for work, etc. Don’t let money drive your decision. Money will follow when you are happily doing what you love. So often times we are lulled to inaction because we are comfortable and don’t want to leave that comfort for whatever reason. But in my experience, nothing ventured is nothing gained.”  (To read more about Mary’s advice for nurses considering a job search, read about her recent interview in Advance Healthcare Network.)

What does she say to a RN considering returning to school for a BSN degree?

Whether a nurse graduated from a diploma program, associate degree program, or a bachelor’s degree program, they all sit for the same licensure exam. So the clinical functionality generally is indistinguishable.

The BSN, however, does provide more opportunity within the healthcare system. Having the BSN not only will allow nurses to climb their clinical ladders in the workplace, but serves as a stepping stone to continue their education. She realizes that some established nurses feel pressured to advance their education and says that she “explains that I understand their frustration, as I feel it too. This is a nursing bureaucracy problem. I share my own story and hope to give them insight on all the various avenues they can pursue. Many use me as a sounding board and find it refreshing to hear that someone can validate their feelings. “

She’s worn a lot of hats over the years — nurse, business owner, writer, nursing instructor – but one common thread throughout her career is her passion for healthcare administration.

She recommends two books for anyone interested in improving the way healthcare is delivered in this country: The Patient Comes Second by Paul Spiegelman and Britt Berrett and The Self-Pay Patient by Sean Parnell.

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