A Beautiful Moment

Like many nurses and healthcare providers, Michelle Dedon ’04, DNP ’18, decided on a career in medicine after witnessing compassionate care in action. When she was 12 years old, Michelle’s grandmother passed away in the ICU, surrounded by loved ones.

“One of the nurses helped me understand that it didn’t have to be a bad moment; it could be a beautiful moment instead,” Michelle said. “I could be a part of transitioning my grandmother to the next part of life. That had a major impact on me.”

Photo of alumna Michelle Dedon '04, DNP-FNP '18
Earning her DNP at Elms helped Michelle develop the ability to face challenges with less fear, she said, and to ask questions with confidence.

Michelle went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Elms, embarking on a career as an ICU nurse at Holyoke Hospital — the very location of her epiphany years before. She decided to pursue her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP), connecting her passions for education and preventative care.

‘The DNP is intended to create leaders. It’s to help guide healthcare. I stepped out of my comfort zone because of it, and it was a wonderful journey.’

Michelle’s clinical experiences set the stage for synthesizing everything she learned in her advanced practice classes.

“My final rotation was at an urgent care at a college,” she said. “That was the most empowering of all my clinicals, because I was able to see patients, talk with them, make a plan, make decisions, and have almost complete autonomy.”

Photo of the 2018 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) class
The 2018 DNP graduating class had a 100% first time pass rate for the FNP and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) board exams.

The DNP capstone project offered Michelle an opportunity to focus not on patient education, but instead on training within the nursing profession. Her research focused on the efficacy of educating volunteer caregivers on how to identify and treat pain in hospice patients. After completing her study, Michelle presented her work at a conference held by Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society for nursing.

‘To have a successful capstone, you need a topic that is truly important to you. It becomes your life for several years — you’re writing about it, reading the research, and attempting to bring that research to the bedside.’

Reflecting on her time in the DNP program, Michelle appreciates the academic rigor at the heart of the Elms College School of Nursing.

“I ended up with three interviews and three offers,” she said. On her final day as a DNP student, she accepted an offer to join Harrington Physician Services in Charlton, MA, a family practice.

“I was at the top of my game in the ICU, and then, when I came here, I was starting at the beginning,” Michelle said. “This is a big transition for nurses that have been working for a long time.

“Starting at the beginning isn’t necessarily starting at the bottom, however. You still have experience that you bring with you.”