DEGREE EARNED: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
HOW LONG IT TOOK: 5 years
A PSYCHOLOGICAL ROADBLOCK: I remember visiting potential nursing schools with my father when I was a junior in high school. The dean—an old lady in a starchy white uniform—said I didn’t have what it took to be a successful nurse because I was an “average student.” I was embarrassed when she said that. I felt ashamed. It made me feel like I couldn’t do anything or be anything. That was in 1973.
FOLLOWING MY DREAMS: Over the years, I worked odd jobs and took prerequisite courses. I wanted to be a nurse, even though she told me I would never make it. But each time I hit a new milestone, what she said to me was still in the back of my mind. I carried it with me for 44 years—until I earned my DNP in July 2017. I wrote a letter telling my story to the current dean of the school that turned me down. I had finally proven the former dean wrong.
STAYING DEDICATED: I had great support from my husband. He knew that when I came home from work, I had to go straight to my computer and study. If we went somewhere, I would take my books with me. I remember studying for statistics on a cruise ship. We have a picture of it.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Since graduating, I’ve established a research council at our hospital, and I have people coming to me with questions because I have this breadth of knowledge now. The council serves as an opportunity for our nurses to learn about current evidence-based practices by reviewing and evaluating research articles. We are also available to help nursing students with their projects for school. Walden prepared me to have an evidence-based perspective and an open mind so that I can take care of my patients safely.
HOW I’M HELPING OTHERS: I became certified as an adjunct clinical instructor, so now I can apply to teach at a college or university. I don’t want people who are trying to become nurses to be discouraged the way I was at the beginning of my journey all those years ago. I want them to be able to find a nurse to help them, to be their mentor. That’s what I’m doing right now—mentoring several nurses—and it’s really fulfilling.