From Veteran Sailor to Nursing Leader
Michelle Schindler, BSN, RNC-MNN, recalls a moment when she was sitting on a city bus alone at age 16, wondering what she’d do with her life and what it would take to survive in the real world. She didn’t come from a family who had money, nor were other resources accessible to her. Her parents were always working, doing the best they could do.
How Do You Make Room for a New Trajectory?
Facing an uncertain future, Michelle joined the Navy after graduating from high school: “The Navy opened the door to opportunities that I never knew were possible. I was able to learn from so many great leaders, while also seeing much of the world.” Michelle’s love for her country is evident: “Just the idea that you can join the military and gain the type of training you need to advance in life is amazing.”
She says the Navy encouraged her to grow, take classes, and instilled the leadership values that have helped her thrive even now, as she works to earn her Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Leadership & Management from Regent University.
Currently a clinical nurse, her time overseas ignited a passion to help people through missionary work. “My weekends were free while on deployment. I’d sign out, get a briefing from the chaplain and go help where I was needed — places like orphanages and hostels,” she shares.
Redeeming Tragedy & Pressing Through Pain
“It was in this season, helping my brother relearn his alphabet and taking him to physical therapy, that God placed nursing on my heart,” she says.
Michelle served in the military for four years. She would have stayed longer but sensed that God had a new assignment for her — a path that would ultimately lead to her career in nursing. She explains, “My older brother had gotten into a horrible car accident and was in a coma for nearly five months. My mom had difficulty understanding the doctors because of the language barrier, and she needed me home to help her and my brother during this family crisis.”
Michelle’s leaders were supportive and encouraged her to continue her passion for helping others, pointing out, “You don’t have to be in the military to carry out a mission.” She carried their words with her as she returned home to a distressed place that didn’t appear very promising.
“I just had to trust God. As I started caring for my brother, I learned from the nurses,” explains Michelle. “It was in this season, helping my brother relearn his alphabet and taking him to physical therapy, that God placed nursing on my heart.”
Through pain and uncertainty, God clearly revealed that He could use the nursing profession in her life to help and impact others: “My brother was told he’d never walk again, but God always has the final say. Now he’s functioning on his own and works for the IT department in a hospital.”
Michelle had a new destiny to follow as well, fully embracing the pursuit of her nursing degree. “I love being a nurse,” she says. “I love the people you meet in nursing. I love helping the sick and providing moral support and prayers to the families in your care.”
How to Position Yourself for More
Her decision to earn an MSN at Regent University was not because of career dissatisfaction or even financially motivated: “As a clinical nurse, I had maxed out a lot of things I could do professionally. Getting my master’s in nursing with a focus on leadership is a big, smart move.” She explains that, without an MSN, certain professional roles are limited. “This degree will open up new opportunities and positions me to influence policies and patient care. In fact, I’m already seeing the benefits of leadership, and I haven’t even graduated yet,” Michelle says.
Gratitude marks her every move and decision. She is quick to give God the glory and is grateful that due to her military service, she was able to use the G.I. bill to pay for her nursing degree. “I’m still reaping the rewards of my military service,” she says. Regent offers a 25% discount for veterans, which is helping me pay for my MSN degree. That’s pretty incredible!”
Michelle wants everyone to know that throughout her life experiences, she’s been blessed with many opportunities despite her humble beginnings. She is quick to quote Romans 11:29: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Her advice to others? “Trust the Lord’s calling and stay focused on continuous growth. Through Christian leadership, you can be the voice of reason and make impacting decisions to help others have better experiences.”