NP pursues DNP to improve outcomes in pediatric ERTrisha Buck | College of Nursing Mar 13, 2017
Nurses pursuing the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) will shape the future of clinical nursing and evidence-based practice. Jill McElheny, MSN, RN, CPNP, a CU College of Nursing DNP student has been working in the ER at Children’s Hospital Colorado for almost 10 years.
After gaining experience in an acute care setting, Jill recognized the issues in her workplace and realized she wanted to become a clinical nurse leader with the skills and knowledge to improve patient outcomes and resolve the issues she’d discovered at work. And she knew this aim could be accomplished with the right clinically focused doctoral program.
Jill, who says she knew she wanted to be a nurse at just three years old, decided to add a DNP program to her already busy life, which consists of keeping her full-time job and taking care of two kiddos.
Jill believes our culture looks to doctors as leaders, but in truth, nurses are doing most of the hands-on care and problem solving: “Nursing is one of the fields they look to for problem solving. Since we are more involved with the patients, it just makes sense for nurses to problem solve.”
Quality improvement advances are one aspect of problem solving for nurse leaders, and Jill decided to earn the DNP to give her the credentials to make those changes. “I know that people choose the field of nursing, not because they couldn’t be doctors, but because they wanted to be nurses, and now it is time for nurses to lead health care improvements and outcomes,” Jill says.
The further along she gets in the DNP program, the more she sees that this degree syncs with her future goals. One of the things Jill loves most about the program is that it provides real-world experience by letting her interact with her clinical setting — she doesn’t have to get everything from books.
The DNP gives the nursing profession a terminal degree that has the same cachet and academic rigor as an MD. Jill says, “In the clinical workplace, it aligns us with physicians, and it gives us power to be the positive change in the workplace.”