Jeanne Betournay-Gamelli, '13, MSN, RN, CCRN
Baystate Noble Hospital
Although it has only been two years since I finished my master’s degree education, I had apparently forgotten the time consuming nature of working full-time (plus) and going to school. I thought a lot about going back to school for my doctorate but knew I did not want a PhD. I have been practicing at the bedside for 35 years and have been teaching nursing students at Elms College for 8 years. I love both the bedside practice and the teaching aspect of nursing. So, the DNP program at Elms College was a great match for my future goal of teaching more while continuing to practice at the bedside. Now I find myself struggling to balance work, students, school, and family.
Working in an acute care setting, I have noticed several issues with patient care and nursing education that concern me. I realized recently that the community hospital I work in (Noble Hospital) lacks a clinical educator. Several ‘skills fairs’ have been held for critical care nurses and staff nurses. I was asked to ‘man a station’ at each fair held and the future ones planned over the rest of the year. As a DNP Advance Practice Nurse (APN), teaching nurses, as well as patients, falls into my expanded role. Teaching in this setting also gives me the opportunity to move the nursing staff (and management) toward evidence-based practice and getting all the nurses to follow standards of care aimed at obtaining the best patient outcomes.
The team approach to patient care is very evident at Noble Hospital. All members of the health care team work collaboratively to care for our patients. A team meeting is held daily with physicians, nurses, case managers, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, physical therapists, and pharmacists to review each patient’s status and plan of care. In this environment, an APN has the opportunity to promote evidence-based practice and best practice guidelines for all aspects of patient care. The APN will bring knowledge based in nursing practice and medicine and can facilitate a stronger connection between the two in order to provide the best care possible to each patient.
Since entering the program in March, I am still acclimating to the pace and demands of the program. I have only been out of school for two years and completed my Master’s education at Elms College. I am familiar with the philosophy of graduate education at Elms and the expectations of the faculty. However, I still find it difficult to complete assignments with directions that are more abstract than concrete. I am learning to think ‘outside the box’ and challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone. I continue to learn how to use more tools on my computer, participate in group assignments, search the internet, and submit assignments in Moodle.
Throughout my Master’s education and so far in my Doctorate education, I have been struck by the vast amount of knowledge and experience of my fellow classmates. I am awed by the passion, struggles, and triumphs of other nurses working in various areas of nursing and I have gained a better understanding of what nursing contributes to the healthcare system. Nurses considering continuing their education at the Doctorate level need to be committed to the challenge of learning and open minded to the possibilities that exist in the future to move nursing forward as a discipline and a profession. Also, future students will need to remember their nursing roots, because we are all nurses first.