Caring for others is in Krystal Donley’s DNA.
Now an accomplished psychiatric nurse and healthcare leader, Krystal’s focus includes caring not only for patients — but also for her fellow healthcare professionals through morale-increasing gestures like sending gift bags or procuring much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) like facemasks.
Her journey in nursing started early: Krystal has known where she wanted to go in her career since she was a teenager.
“I started taking nursing classes when I was in high school and just sort of followed that path all the way through,” she says.
Along the way, she’s accumulated some impressive credentials, including a bachelor’s in nursing, a master’s in nursing education, and most recently, a post-master’s certificate in psychiatric mental health through Maryville University’s online program.
It was her experience in the workplace that kept pushing her to redefine her career. As a new graduate in 2009 during a recession, nursing jobs were hard to come by. Krystal ended up starting her career in a rehab center.
From there, she moved into a hospital job, where she tried to get as much experience as possible. That meant starting out on the new nurse precepting unit. She then moved to the recovery room and soon after became a floater to all different units before ending up in trauma ICU.
That was a major turning point for her.
“That experience really kind of pushed me in the psych direction,” Krystal says. “I always loved it, but just seeing the complexity and the need that was there for this population, I felt like it was a calling.”
She had challenges. Maryville had solutions.
As a mom and full-time psychiatric registered nurse for Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Arizona, Krystal’s life and schedule are busy to say the least. Although there are many schools in the area, she doesn’t live close to the physical campuses, which means driving would cut into the little time she has.
The flexibility of online classes was a must, so she began narrowing down her choices. Maryville proved to have just the right combination of content, quality, and features to fit into her busy life.
“With the price, program, and flexibility, Maryville really stood out — they had the exact program I wanted,” she says. “After talking with enrollment advisors from each of the schools about how long it would take, how much it would cost, how much of my time is invested — Maryville came out on top.”
With the price, program, and flexibility, Maryville really stood out — they had the exact program I wanted. After talking with enrollment advisors from each of the schools about how long it would take, how much it would cost, how much of my time is invested — Maryville came out on top.
Earning skills for today’s world
For a psychiatric registered nurse, 2020 presented more than its share of challenges, such as the spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States — and Krystal will be called on to put her skills to the test right away.
“This large, invisible threat has caused tension, anxiety, and depression for people who are alone and scared,” she says. “They can’t go to school, they can’t go to work, they can’t go on vacation — there’s no escape.”
She understands that beyond the virus itself, the effects will be felt for some time in lost jobs, financial stress, relationship strain, PTSD for frontline workers, and more. Although her tools are limited right now because of the environment, Krystal is doing what she can to help.
The same drive that inspired her nursing career continues to inspire her to lead through action. In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she led an initiative to provide support for frontline healthcare workers and nurses by producing and delivering gift bags and cutting-edge facemasks.
It’s just the kind of person she is: She saw a problem, and she worked to fix it.
“There were places that did not have any masks at all, like clinics and nursing homes — people who were working directly with COVID patients,” she says.
Making a difference any way she can
As a nurse — and especially during the global outbreak of COVID-19 — Krystal knows how tough it can be to provide care in stressful situations. She also knows nurses can’t take anything for granted and must remain sharp. That’s why she decided to help wherever and however she can.
“After talking to a nurse who was working the front lines in Queens, New York, I was able to send care packages to nurses at the hospital,” Krystal says.
These packages were full of goodies any nurse would appreciate — things like a pen, some gum, mints, Starbuck’s tea and coffee, moisturizer products, and even a little note written by her friend’s 10-year-old daughter thanking the nurses.
But that was just the beginning. Krystal saw another opportunity to impact change and help the healthcare workers most in need during the pandemic.
As a leader in her unit, she set the example by wearing a mask all day long even before it was a requirement — which ended up having a trickle-down effect and inspired her to go further. She now leads an effort to produce and deliver cutting-edge, laser-cut polypropylene masks to organizations that need them — she’s already received a 4,000-unit order from the Phoenix Police Department.
I think brave means just putting yourself out there, taking risks, and trying things that maybe other people don’t think will work.
Sometimes brave means doing what others won’t
In today’s climate, the word “brave” takes on a lot of different meanings.
For Krystal, the definition goes beyond words — it shows up in her actions.
“I think brave means just putting yourself out there, taking risks, and trying things that maybe other people don’t think will work,” she says. Like wearing a mask 12 hours a day when everybody else thinks you’re crazy. Or calling anyone and everyone trying to get donations. Or trying to change an entire culture.
“I’m just kind of going against the grain by knowing what’s right and following through with those beliefs and living them — despite what anyone else says.”
Krystal credits Maryville Online for giving her the confidence and resources to help her grow as a professional and step into her new role as a provider. “Maryville was the vehicle for me to move into the next phase of my career,” she says, “and I’m very grateful for that.”
If you’re ready to see how Maryville Online can help you be brave and pursue your educational and professional goals, we’re here for you. Check out our online degrees or schedule a call with an advisor today.
If you’re ready to see how Maryville Online can help you be brave and pursue your educational and professional goals, we’re here for you. Check out our online bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees, or schedule a call with an advisor today.
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