Photo of a female doctor of nursing practice family nurse practitioner graduateJennifer Jordan, BSN ’13
Doctor of Nursing Practice candidate, Family Nurse Practitioner track
Class of 2018

 

If there is one word that captures Jennifer Jordan’s career as a nurse, it would be “versatility.” The Belchertown, MA resident has steadily worked her way up through the ranks over the past 20 years, starting out as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), advancing to the registered nurse (RN) level, and then earning a bachelor of science (BS) degree at Elms College in 2013. Her journey will come full circle in spring 2018, when she completes the family nurse practitioner (FNP) track of the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree.

The main factor that motivated Jennifer to pursue the DNP-FNP was gaining the ability to autonomously manage her patients’ health. “The one piece that I’ve felt like I was prevented from doing,” she said, “was that provider piece. It started to become more difficult, especially when I was working with patients that I felt like I could get them to the next level, if I wasn’t held back. And so I needed to go beyond the boundary of a registered nurse at that point.”

The Elms DNP program helped Jennifer transcend her professional boundaries and elevate her practice. It even helped her land her dream job at Atkinson Family Practice in Amherst, MA. Dr. Kate Atkinson, the owner of the practice, “actually got on one knee and proposed, and asked me to be her doctor of nursing practice,” Jennifer said. “Can you imagine being asked like that? How honored am I, how privileged am I? So of course I accepted.”

Her enthusiasm for her new job also stems from acting as a leader in the local community. Jennifer says that due to the high number of colleges and universities in the Amherst area, her patients tend to be incredibly informed about their health management options. To effectively deliver care for this unique patient population, she says that shared decision making will factor prominently into her leadership style.

Even though she admits that the DNP program is one of the most challenging experiences she has ever had, Jennifer insists that the quality of education at Elms made the difference in her career preparation. “I got my dream job, and it’s because of Elms,” she said. “They invest in you from day one.”

“What the school is doing is raising the bar. I think that there is an expectation that when you’re in practice that your provider is as highly trained and skilled as possible. And I think that’s what Elms is doing.”

Photo of a female doctor of nursing practice student in the Elms DNP labCarleny Henriquez
Doctor of Nursing Practice student, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track
Class of 2019

 

Carleny Henriquez ’19, a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) student in the School of Nursing, initially came to Elms to pursue the family nurse practitioner (FNP) track. Once she took a few classes and met with faculty, however, she discovered her true passion: becoming an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, or AGACNP.

The Springfield, MA, resident sees caring for adult patients as a mutual learning experience. “They have taught me so much about life,” she said. “Talking to that population–just having a little bit of conversation–and listening to how they used to do things when they were younger, is so beneficial.”

In the future, Carleny plans to use her AGACNP expertise for positive interventions with vulnerable populations. She chose alcohol withdrawal in adult patients for her capstone project after consulting with DNP faculty mentors, who connected her to local resources. She also sees infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, and pneumonia — diseases other nurse practitioners might avoid — as a chance to make a difference.

As a member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and a native of the Dominican Republic, Carleny says that her experience living in two different countries has shaped her thinking about health care. “I think coming from a Latino culture has allow me to be sensitive when it comes to caring for patients from all backgrounds,” she said. “I try my hardest to not only take care of the ‘disease’ but also to take into consideration all other aspects that might be contributing to patient’s well being, such as cultural influences.”

The DNP program influenced her outlook too, by offering Carleny a place to find her calling and solidify her career path. She recommends that potential applicants not only educate themselves about doctoral studies in general, but also reach out to peers and faculty members to get a more complete picture of the program.

Photo of a female doctor of nursing practice, family nurse practitioner studentKaytlin David
Doctor of Nursing Practice student, Family Nurse Practitioner track
Class of 2019 

 

Kaytlin David discovered her philosophy of care while working as a registered nurse at a home care facility for the past three years. During her time at LifePath — formerly the Franklin County Home Care Corporation, based in Greenfield, MA — she managed cases with one goal in mind: Keep patients in their homes, and out of nursing homes.

“My heart is in home care,” the Pioneer Valley local explained. “It’s more of a patient-centered model. It involves patients’ families, their pets — there are so many little things that contribute to a person’s overall health.”

Kaytlin is pursuing the family nurse practitioner (FNP) track of the DNP program at Elms, focusing on translating her experience as a home care nurse into advanced practice. One of the advantages of working with patients in their homes, she noted, is that it prompted her to think of questions that address patients’ health holistically, such as whether they have access to transportation or other basic resources.

“Home care opened my mind to what barriers people could face,” she said. “I think as I continue to practice, and when I become a family nurse practitioner, I’ll be able to understand those barriers a little better.”

Before she makes the transition to a primary care office, though, Kaytlin is directing her energy toward the DNP capstone project. She is currently planning to collaborate with Baystate Medical Center.