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Sharon H. Allan, MSN '05, CCRC, RN

Sharon Allan

Program: MSN Health Systems Management/Clinical Nurse Specialist

Through Their Eyes

"The program opened up my eyes to see so much more than just clinical nursing."

Sharon Allan, MSN '05, CCRC, RN, knows a good fit when she sees one. After all, when Johns Hopkins Hospital hired her as a nurse, she figured that she would give it two years to get a little experience then find a hospital closer to her Annapolis home. That was in 1976.

After nearly three decades working in cardiac surgery and with heart/lung transplant patients, Allan decided to pursue a master's degree. Where to get her degree wasn't even a question: Hopkins was her home for its "diversity, ethics, and cutting-edge approach," says Allan, who is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Cardiac Surgery and the QI Team Leader.

She found those qualities at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, first in the Business of Nursing certificate program, and later in the Health Systems Management/Clinical Nurse Specialist Dual Track MSN program. Her years on the cardiac unit had also sparked an interest in teaching: "Every nurse is a nurse educator," she believes. Though she'd been away from a classroom since the mid-1970s, Allan found the multi-generational classes an easy fit. "My classmates were at all stages of career and all ages, but the one common denominator with nursing is that we are all there for our patients," she remarks. "There was no generational gap." And the program's commitment to teaching the latest technology has kept Allan at the forefront of digital advances in healthcare.

The dual track turned out to be the best of both worlds. "The Health Systems Management program helped me to understand the global effects of healthcare and healthcare reform, while the Clinical Specialist track focused on teaching," says Allan, who worked full time while attending graduate school. "The program opened up my eyes to see much more than just clinical nursing." After graduating in 2005, she put her degree to work as JHH's in-patient clinical nurse specialist for lung transplants. With her expertise in systems management, she overhauled the entire patient lung transplant discharge binder.

In February 2010, she began a new position as Quality Improvement Team Leader overseeing cardiac surgery and heart/lung transplants at Hopkins. "I am able to use every aspect of the MSN program," explains Allan. "I work with teams to develop dashboard metrics to review the entire transplant system and evaluate the whole process flow, and I serve in the clinical nurse specialist role by working with clinical teams to promote quality patient care and improve outcomes." She also teaches quality improvement to all new surgical nurses, a role that has her thinking about the possibility of teaching at the SON. For now, she's more than happy with a career where her years of experience and educational focus fit together seamlessly.

Learn more about the Health Systems Management/Clinical Nurse Specialist program