Cynthia Dixon

Associate of Science in Nursing, 2011

ICU Nurse Designs Medical Record Systems That Help Save Lives

On June 25, 2012, Cynthia Dixon wrote to Dean Sheila Burke of the School of Nursing. “I just passed the boards! I can’t believe it—on my first try! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If it weren’t for you and for Kaplan University I would have never achieved my goal!”

Cynthia had just passed the grueling, 265-question, 6-hour NCLEX-RN Exam. In fact, she says that due in part to using Kaplan Test Prep to get ready, she only had to answer 75 of the questions, and it took her only 1-½ hours to complete. It was the culmination of a little over 2 years of studying and hard work. She was now a registered nurse.

"Cynthia is an inspiration. Her commitment to finishing her degree—despite the challenges she faced—is a strong message of what a person can do if they truly are committed."

—Sheila Burke
Dean, School of Nursing

Her story is an interesting and unique one.

Cynthia is a software engineer by trade. She has been designing medical record systems for hospitals for more than a decade.

“I really love my job and I am passionate about patient safety. I’m always thinking: How can this system be better? How can I help protect the patient? Am I doing everything I can to make their experience as seamless and smooth as possible? The patients’ lives are in our hands, and it is my responsibility to make sure their information is accurate and gets routed properly.”

Cynthia, middle center, with the ER staff at Physician's Regional Hospital in Naples, Florida

Cynthia knows first-hand what it is like to be in a hospital. She struggles with sarcoidosis, a painful inflammatory illness, and has been hospitalized and in a doctor’s care frequently.

“I figured if I could experience what it is like to work in a hospital, to deal with the patients and their records, just like when I was in the hospital, that I could design the best systems. I want my systems to be really user friendly and to help advocate for the patient—rather than work against them.”

To gain this experience, Cynthia, who has an undergraduate degree in IT as well as her MBA, decided to go back to school to earn her nursing degree. She turned to Kaplan University because she wanted to earn her degree online. It was the only way she could manage school, full-time work, caring for her husband and daughter, and her chronic illness.

Cynthia, left, with the Clinical Coordinator at Physician's Regional Hospital in Naples, Florida

“Kaplan University has such an amazing staff. Dean Burke was such an inspiring mentor. I learned so much, and they helped motivate me and keep me going. There were times I was in a great deal of pain. I had some trouble making it to my clinicals, which were two hours away. They were there every step of the way, encouraging me, listening to me, and helping me. When I passed the boards, they were just as thrilled as I was!”

Cynthia continued, “I am designing systems for patients with such a different outlook and a renewed confidence. My peers have trouble understanding the clinical side of our work. I used to struggle with it as well! But now I understand how the records are being used. I see the entire process in a whole new light. I know firsthand the sense of urgency and the need to obtain accurate information. Importantly, I’ve learned the critical need to develop new ways to ask questions and find out patient information while trying not to make the patient embarrassed or uncomfortable. That’s the importance of great bedside manner!”

Already, Cynthia has seen a difference in her work, and her supervisors, colleagues, and clients have noticed too. In fact, Cynthia just went to one of her client hospitals, Physician’s Regional Hospital in Naples, Florida and was introduced to the ICU Director. After hearing about her background and that Cynthia was a recent graduate from Kaplan University with her RN license, she was offered a part-time position in their ICU, in addition to her current full-time career.

“I am so excited because that is a difficult unit to get into fresh out of school. The ICU director said that there were no doubts in his mind that I'd be a great addition to their nursing staff!”

Now Cynthia is a registered nurse working part-time in a hospital, as well as enjoying a successful career designing medical record systems. In two ways, Cynthia is helping to save lives.

This testimonial was solicited by Kaplan University. Views and opinions stated herein are the individual’s and not necessarily those of Kaplan University. Individual student experiences may vary. Kaplan University's programs are designed to prepare graduates to pursue employment in their field of study, or in related fields. However, the University does not guarantee that graduates will be placed in any particular job, eligible for job advancement opportunities, or employed at all. Additional training or certification may be required.