Moira Brophy, BSN, MA, RN - licensed Mental Health Counselor
Berkshire Medical Center
If you have found my blog, you are probably researching Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs, perhaps as a potential student. I will soon be entering my second year at Elms College as a DNP student, and I would like to share with you my experiences in the program over the past year.
One thing you should realize right off the bat is that the DNP program is much more than clinical training in advance practice nursing; it encompasses healthcare policy, research methods, and informatics as well. You will become well-versed in the American Psychological Association (APA) writing format, which can seem daunting at first, but you will conquer it! Despite the abundance of rules and regulations, it actually does help formalize the writing process. The professors I have encountered so far have been insistent on proper format, but are also very approachable when it comes to questions or concerns about the feedback they have provided.
While I wanted to jump right into the clinical component of the program, I have already developed a true appreciation for health care policy and the use of evidence based practice or EBP. You will become very, very familiar with that term over your first year, I can promise that. Policy and EBP are elements of healthcare that I never really looked closely at prior to entering this program, and I can say without a doubt I feel have broadened my vision of what it takes to become a DNP. I am a currently a critical care nurse in a local community hospital, and already feel more confident speaking about current legislation and policies that affect nursing practice to my coworkers and other professionals I deal with on a daily basis. I have even incorporated EBP findings into the intensive care unit (ICU) where I work. I recently attended a nursing conference with the Air National Guard in San Antonio and realized after a lecture that some of our hospital’s ventilator practices were out dated and potentially harmful to our patients. I gave our clinical educator the current literature, based on EBP, and we are in the process of changing one aspect of our ventilator management.
I have two goals when I complete the DNP program. The first is to become a provider working in a palliative care setting. I have found my focus shifting over the past few years from emergency and critical care, where I worked over 20 years, to providing support and guidance to those making end-of-life decisions. As a doctoral prepared nurse practitioner, I will have the knowledge and credentials to expand the palliative care program in our hospital and home care settings, and potentially make a difference for patients and families at the most difficult time in their lives.
My other aspiration is to become a DNP in the Air National Guard, where I am currently the Chief Nurse in Western Massachusetts. The most rewarding part of my nursing career has been in the Air Force. I have traveled all over the United States, and have deployed twice to both Iraq and Afghanistan. I cannot find the right words to describe how those experiences felt, except to say that caring for those who respect our country enough that they would, and sometimes do, give their life to protect it and its citizens, is the most humbling and rewarding feeling I have ever experienced. Above all else, it has been the main motivator in my desire to become a DNP. I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue these goals at Elms College, and feel it has been the perfect fit for me. The professors have very high standards, and at the same time, are committed to your success. I am confident when I complete this program I will have all the tools I need to accomplish my goal of being a Doctor of Nursing Practice.