The year 2020 set precedents of social, political, environmental and health unrest. Defined mostly by the COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide protests for racial equality, we’ve witnessed a year resembling a road covered in potholes. Although we see a path ahead, it’s wrought with bumps, sharp turns and clear gaps that need to be filled. Society grows more anxious for change, divides between political ideologies continue to grow and natural disasters remind us of our emptying hour-glass on changing directions in climate change. With daunting challenges at hand, it’s easy to feel powerless. But there’s a mantra that anchors me to a sense of hope: Knowledge is power.
If this much is true, then how can earning a DNP prepare you for the new world?
Nurses make up the largest segment of the health care workforce. The better educated they are, the more prepared they will be to practice to the full extent of their potential. Nurses are health care leaders in practice development, research and health advocacy, and they do so with a strong root in ethics of care. Consider the power of such a workforce pushing towards terminal degrees, increasing involvement in research, policy development, patient care and education? The sky will be the limit of how nursing leadership could impact society at large.
It’s important to consider how the pursuit of a DNP can impact you as an individual, your organization, your community and the global space. Starting with the individual, earning a DNP does several things for you. As you go along in your career, the additional training will allow you to see problems in a new light, opening the door for unique solutions and thus unique opportunities. The terminal degree also expands access to working environments that you may find yourself interested in as you grow into your career. What you want now may not be what you want in five years, and as an adaptable degree, the DNP allows you to stay flexible with your shifting professional needs. Additionally, it increases both your autonomy and your earning potential, contributing to a better work-life balance and thus the quality of life.
At the organizational level, the DNP allows you to have a seat at the table. Complex systems will always require improvement. Patient care will always have room for growth. Earning a DNP grants access to involvement in critical decisions for whatever organization you work for. Whether it’s a hospital setting or an outpatient clinic, training in organizational leadership provides you with the tools to tackle difficult initiatives, bolstered significantly by the research literacy to understand and conduct proper program evaluations.
Moreover, the nursing code of ethics discusses social justice by stating an obligation to advance health and human rights and reduce disparities. Here we see opportunities to engage with the community level. Reducing disparities includes supporting access to health services in marginalized communities. It also allows for leadership to foster a positive working environment, for organizational change in the direction of safety of all kinds for all and provides the confidence to engage in forward-thinking health care policy.
At the global level, all members of the health care team must engage in the existential threat of climate change because it creates health hazards that inevitably will affect our patient populations. It’s causing an increased severity and frequency of health problems, looking to the West Coast wildfires as an example, and is leading to unprecedented threats to health around the world. An essential of doctoral education for advanced nursing practice is clinical prevention and population health for improving the nation’s health. Skills taught through DNP programming enables you to connect solutions to problems within your sphere of influence by teaching how to sustainably collaborate with organizations like Healthcare Without Harm.
Health care is transforming at a rapid rate. In our lifetime, we’ll begin to witness the power of artificial intelligence on diagnostic acumen, blockchain technology on data management and genomic engineering reshaping what we thought was possible in our lifetimes. The field is growing fast. Don’t get left behind.
About Kwasi Adusei, DNP '19, BS '15
Kwasi Adusei is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and recent graduate of the psychiatric DNP program at the UB School of Nursing. While a student, Kwasi was the president of the Graduate Student Association, and prior to that was the vice president of the Multicultural Nursing Student Association. Kwasi also spearheaded the launch of the Julia Buscaglia Student Support Fund. Currently, he works as a psychiatric nurse practitioner with Horizon Health Services where he is involved in conversations targeting solutions to mental health stigma, access and inclusion in communities of color.
Published December 15, 2020