Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates and students share why they chose to pursue a DNP and how it has influenced their careers.
HealthAlliance Hospital, Leominster, Mass.Lisa M. Colombo, RN
Since graduating from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, the DNP has enhanced my ability to bridge the gap between empirical evidence and practice. The DNP gives me a platform for establishing the practice of executive nurse leadership as a legitimate and recognized advanced practice in nursing.
The practice-focused doctorate affords the opportunity to facilitate the process of putting evidence into practice by giving the nurse leader the knowledge and appreciation for research, the ability to understand relevance, validity, and applicability. That, coupled with the skills that nurse leaders are required to have, such as resource allocation, operations management, clinical quality management, mentorship, and operations management, provide a complete portfolio of skills to impact positive patient outcomes in the dynamic and challenging healthcare environment.
The DNP also has afforded me a level of credibility with peers and other members of the healthcare delivery team, including physicians, consumers, and governing body members.
Lisa M. Colombo, RN, MHA, DNP, corporate vice president and chief nursing officer, HealthAlliance Hospital, Leominster, Mass.
Dovetail Health, Needham, Mass.Stephanie W. Ahmed, RN
My DNP concentration at MGH Institute of Health Professions was administrative, which helped develop the expanded toolbox advanced practice nurses need to meet the demands of increasing patient acuity. Although the curriculum does not specifically expand my scope of practice, it includes healthcare finance, population health and technology, which are essential to impacting patient care on an individual and population basis.
The U.S. spends more per capita on healthcare than any other country in the world. It has been estimated that as much as 70% of those costs are attributable to only 10% of the population. To make a tangible impact on these most complex patients, rethinking care delivery models becomes essential. In such a setting, the contemporary DNP must have the ability to evaluate healthcare trends, design appropriate evidence-based interventions, leverage available technology and measure outcomes. The DNP curriculum establishes a foundation for competency in the aforementioned areas. In conjunction with a multidisciplinary team including nursing, pharmacy and support staff, Dovetail Health provides support for the most complex patients with chronic illness through implementation of novel care delivery models including transitional care and patient-centered medical home projects. In my role at Dovetail, I have the opportunity to use the DNP skill-set.
Although the nurse practitioner role was designed to meet the primary care needs of rural America, NPs are practicing in increasingly complex environments. They have expanded their practice into tertiary centers, delivering care that was only previously offered by MDs. It was clear to me there was a need for greater education to prepare APRNs to meet the acuity needs of the patients we serve. The DNP is designed to prepare APRNs for the highest degree of leadership in practice and scientific inquiry. Recognizing a desire to expand my leadership and influence on practice through the development of unique care delivery models that impact access to care, the DNP was a natural choice for me.
Stephanie W. Ahmed, DNP, FNP-BC, director of clinical and nursing services, Dovetail Health, Needham, Mass.
University of Massachusetts Medical School, WorcesterSandra L. Leiby, RN
As a DNP student at Simmons College in Boston, I have had the opportunity to understand healthcare politics, nursing leadership, ethics and nursing research at a more in-depth level. Specifically, while teaching NPs and medical students, my depth of knowledge helps me present a more global understanding of the role and function of the NP and the interprofessional healthcare team.
While providing patient care, I am more likely to look to evidence-based research pertaining to patient disease processes and treatment plans than before. In the hospital setting with my interactions with staff nurses, I am able to discuss nursing issues with a greater understanding of healthcare policy.
When teaching my NP students in the hospital setting, I feel confident to help them deal with ethical patient care dilemmas. I had started a PhD in nursing degree in 2006 and realized that the degree was not a good fit for me. My areas of practice and teaching focus on clinical theory and skills, which made the DNP a better choice and fit because it is more clinically based.
Sandra L. Leiby, MS, ANP-BC, instructor of the Graduate School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
Brigham and Womens Hospital, BostonBarbara E. Lakatos, RN
The University of Connecticut requires all students to have advanced practice degrees and certification before entering the DNP program. As a psychiatric advanced practice nurse with more 25 years of clinical experience, I was looking for a program that would provide scientifically rigorous course work with a flexible practicum and research opportunities matched to my clinical and practice interests.
My passion is improving the practice of psychologically based nursing care in the acute hospital setting. This includes psychological responses to illness and hospitalization, delirium, anxiety, depression, and alcohol withdrawal. The complexity of healthcare today requires all team members have increased knowledge and skills to care for the complex healthcare needs of patients.
A primary focus of my career is to improve the practice of nursing and increase the clinicians ability to connect interpersonally with patients and families. Obtaining the additional knowledge and tools through doctoral studies has helped me to translate advanced care for this vulnerable population and to impact patient safety and quality of outcomes.
Each patient deserves the best care, in the safest environment, provided by the best staff. I believe the practice doctorate can help facilitate this change in care.
Barbara E. Lakatos, DNP, PMHCNS-BC, APN, program manager, Psychiatric Nursing Resource Service, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Boston
University of Massachusetts BostonPatricia A. Halon, RN
The DNP program at the University of Massachusetts Boston enhanced my knowledge in the areas of information technology, quality improvement and risk management, health policy, leadership, research translation, statistical methods, and using evidenced-based practice to guide clinical practice. The program also gave me the necessary skills to lead, improve healthcare systems, and focus on quality and outcomes for individuals and populations.
I was able to customize and implement an electronic medical record at University Health Services at the University of Massachusetts Boston through the advanced knowledge gained from public health informatics. I am developing templates for the EMR that are evidenced based to improve the standard of care to our students thanks to Evidenced-Based Practice I and II.
As chairperson for the Quality Improvement Committee at UHS, I am redesigning our program based on concepts learned in Health Care Quality Improvement. Organizational Management and Skills provided me with the necessary skills to analyze businesses. Health Care Financing provided me with a basis for understanding the economics of healthcare today, including: the theory underlying health insurance premiums and loading factors; understanding the Medicare and Medicaid system; the ability to compare global health systems; and evaluating and understanding U.S. healthcare reform, including the analysis of universal health insurance.
I was interested in expanding my knowledge base in order to practice at a higher level. I also wanted to obtain the terminal degree in my profession the DNP. The DNP-prepared ANP is able to collaborate with other clinical practice experts to lead the charge to make healthcare safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable for all.
Patricia A. Halon, MS, FNP, director of General Medicine, University Health Services, part-time faculty CNHS, University of Massachusetts Boston
Providence (R.I.) VA Medical CenterAnne-Naomi Baxter, RN
The DNP program at University of Massachusetts Boston has broadened my knowledge base in management systems, information technology, quality outcomes, evidence-based research, and statistics. The DNP Essentials helps prepare NPs in a variety of roles in advance nursing practice.
For my Capstone project I will provide an online program to help NPs improve their confidence in differentiating between suspicious and non-suspicious skin lesions.
I wanted to pursue a terminal degree in nursing for many years but preferred not to focus on research. However, until recently DNP programs were not available in the southeastern Massachusetts area. The DNP provides NPs with the ability to expand their knowledge base and improve the quality of care patients receive.
Anne-Naomi Baxter, MS, NP, dermatology, Providence (R.I.) VA Medical Center
Hartford Medical Group, Wethersfield, Conn.Holly B. Bradley, RN
The DNP program at the University of Connecticut reaffirmed my thoughts in theory-guided, evidence-based practice models of care, ethical competency in nursing practice, promotion of health from local to global communities and safe environments, cost-effective outcomes, and a holistic perspective on health, illness, and how this continuum impacts healthcare policy decision making. I look forward to the application of this knowledge as a newly graduated DNP.
The DNP program has prepared me to conduct collaborative research, apply new knowledge in practice, and lead healthcare policy change to improve patient safety and outcomes. I now have the ability to facilitate the resolution of clinical-based issues that are evident, thus, providing nurses with the means to conduct evidence-based practice initiatives.
This overall effort will improve patient safety, satisfaction, and outcomes. The DNP degree was the perfect choice in doctoral preparation for someone with my advanced practice background. In recent years, striking changes in healthcare have amplified demands for nurses to assume leadership roles in the delivery of multifaceted clinical care. The DNP defines a nurse by clinical practice, instead of research.
Holly B. Bradley, APRN, DNP, ANP-BC, adult nurse practitioner, aesthetics program manager, Hartford Medical Group, Wethersfield, Conn.