When I started at Walden for my Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), I had recently made the transition from working in internal medicine to building a family practice in a rural clinic. I’d been in nursing for more than 35 years, but the field pushes for academic progression. It may soon be a requirement to have a doctoral degree in order to take the nurse practitioner exam, so I went for it.
“It’s always been important to Marcia to continue her education. When she’s finished with one thing, she finds something else to pursue. It tickled me to see her graduate, knowing that her father was always very excited about her becoming a doctor someday.”
Maintaining balance was my biggest struggle; I tried hard to keep one day a week open for downtime, but it didn’t always happen. I worked on building my clinic practice during the day, sometimes putting in extra time there. After supper, I worked on my schoolwork until I was finished. I had a day full of commitments, and that didn’t leave me with a lot of personal time.
My husband, Sonny, helped me so much by keeping the roadblocks out of my way. He always made sure there was something on the table for supper, and he took care of our bills and other responsibilities. He encouraged me to continue, even when it got to the point where I couldn’t see the end. He never doubted me; he would say, “Of course you can do it—just keep at it.”
It was particularly difficult when my father passed away in February 2014. I was halfway through the program at that point. Both of my parents were proud of me for pursuing my education because neither of them had gone to college. I remember telling my father that the process was going to take longer than I thought, and he said, “The time will come and go, and you’ll either say you wish you would’ve finished or you’ll know you’re almost done.” It was extremely hard losing him, but I’m so glad he and Sonny encouraged me to finish.
Since earning my degree, I’ve gotten a new job offer that I have accepted, and it feels so good to have the credibility that comes with a doctorate. I will now be an assistant professor in a DNP program’s clinical track at Viterbo University. I will still be able to work in clinical practice a couple days a week—the best of both worlds!Dr. Marcia Hagen and her husband, Sonny Photo credit: Scott Cook