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Walden Magazine // Jul 11, 2016

Connections: Building a Support System for Professional Growth

Darcy DuncanTwice a year, Walden nursing students are invited to join an elite group of colleagues who will soon feel like family as they celebrate one another’s accomplishments. At commencement in January, Darcy Duncan ’11, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) graduate and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student, was among those issuing the invitations. She and several other nursing faculty members, graduates, and students staffed a booth for Phi Nu, Walden’s chapter of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI).

Founded in 2011, the chapter has more than 2,300 members worldwide. The mission of STTI and Phi Nu is to advance world health and celebrate nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service—all of which are key elements of any Walden education. Graduate students who have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and have completed at least 25% of their program are invited to join the organization, and alumni can also become members by applying to become nurse leaders.

Duncan currently serves as Phi Nu’s board secretary and is the unit manager and educator for four med/surg floors at Mercy Ardmore Hospital in Oklahoma—but she didn’t always feel like a leader. She credits her fellow Phi Nu members with showing her that there is more than one path to success within the field.

“I loved nursing and the pediatric unit I work on, but I didn’t have a plan for what would come next,” she says. “After seeing the paths that other Phi Nu members were taking—like management and teaching—I discovered new opportunities that would allow me to do the work I love and continue my professional growth.”

Through Phi Nu, she stays in touch with faculty members and former classmates across the U.S. and in Sweden, Asia, and Jordan. “I have a support system I never could have imagined,” Duncan explains. “I can call or email anytime to ask advice or share ideas. They give me an unbiased perspective on whatever I’m dealing with, whether it’s a management issue at work, an assignment for my DNP, or how the stress of the job impacts life outside of work.

“Nursing and leadership are tough gigs; I could not do it without their support,” Duncan says. “I have every intention of sticking around with this great group of people; they’re like a on the board is over, I have already volunteered for some other projects.”

When she encourages others to join Phi Nu, Duncan emphasizes that by staying connected with Walden, they’ll benefit from the unique global perspective of the university’s students, alumni, and faculty, an important resource for both professional growth and personal satisfaction in their careers.