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Careers in Healthcare

We Asked Nursing Students to Share Their Stories

While the specific reasons to pursue an advanced nursing degree vary, the shared goal is to better serve patients in the community.

Jaquetta Reeves, M.S., R.N., N.P.-C., Ph.D.

Nursing Candidate, Wayne State University

What are you studying? Why have you chosen to pursue this? 

Having my Ph.D. opens the door for many opportunities to be a nursing leader, nurse faculty, and, most importantly, a nurse scientist to conduct research. My research seeks to discover new knowledge of how to decrease sexual health disparities that exist among adolescent teens living in urban areas.

What do you love most about nursing? 

It is very rewarding to make a difference in the lives of others. I’m humbled to be in a position to help families and communities receive basic care like getting vaccinations or a food voucher. I love assisting my patients in any way possible. 

What has your program taught you that you hope to bring into your practice?

I’ve learned in my Ph.D. program that having a diverse cadre of doctoral-prepared faculty is so important for making transformational change in our healthcare system, and in the lives of the patients and families we care for. As a nurse leader, I am committed to enhancing diversity in the workplace.

What advice do you have for other nursing students or those wanting to pursue nursing?

Get a doctorate degree! Nursing care doesn’t start or stop at the bedside — it goes beyond and includes our patients’ communities. Our role is defined by science, research, and theory-guided practice. We need more nursing scientists to help improve the quality of healthcare for ALL.

Ifeanyi Madujbeya

Ph.D. in Nursing Candidate, University of Kentucky

Why did you choose to pursue your Ph.D.?

My desire to pursue a Ph.D. in nursing emanated from a research project I worked on for improving health outcomes in patients with heart failure. 

During my undergraduate nursing school clinical rotation in a cardiovascular progressive and telemetry unit, I observed the onerous challenge patients with heart failure experience with adhering to their medication and diet regimens. Most of these patients take multiple medications and are on restricted diets (cardiac diets). The burden of chronic diseases, comorbidities, and low illiteracy made it difficult for them and their caregivers to understand and adhere to their recommended regimen. 

Moreover, the regimen instructions usually comprise huge print-outs that patients and their families barely had time to read. Thus, as a result of poor adherence to the recommended regimen, patients with heart failure experienced high rates of acute exacerbation and re-admissions. 

In order to address the challenges of poor adherence, and improving self-care among patients with heart failure, I collaborated with four other students in my undergraduate program to develop a mobile application called “MyIntake Scanner.” The app uses the user’s health data to scan foods products’ labels and medication barcode to check for restricted ingredients, food-to-drug interaction, and drug-to-drug interaction. Users can also track certain health parameters like calories, cholesterol, and sodium intakes. 

The MyIntake Scanner project exposed me to the enormous potential of health technologies, especially mobile health devices, in improving self-care in patients with heart failure. As a result, I chose to pursue a Ph.D. in nursing to gain more knowledge of the patient population and to develop the research skills required for incorporating health information technologies to promote the self-care potentials in patients with heart failure. 

What do you love most about your program? 

I consider it a great privilege to be in one of the top-ranked nursing Ph.D. programs in the country, and to have the opportunity to be mentored by some of the most renowned nursing researchers. 

The faculty members at the University of Kentucky’s nursing Ph.D. program provide invaluable mentorship to the Ph.D. students. For example, my faculty mentor played an integral role in shaping and developing my research ideas. She helped me strive for new heights in my research focus and to maximize my potential. I have also worked in my mentor’s research projects, which has helped me acquire new research skills. 

Thus, one thing I like most about the program is the willingness and availability of the faculty members to mentor and guide Ph.D. students. The faculty members are always ready to go an extra mile to ensure students have access to the tools that are necessary not only for the successful completion of the program, but for the development of excellent research skills. 

What is your Ph.D. research focused on?

My research focuses on the use of mobile applications (mHealth) to improve self-care in patients with heart failure. mHealth has been shown to be a readily available and cost-effective approach that may improve self-care, and decrease hospitalization and mortality rates in patients with heart failure. 

However, the uptake of mHealth among patients with heart failure remains low. The aim of my research is to generate new knowledge about the factors that influence the adoption and utilization of mHealth for self-care among patients with heart failure. Also, I hope to develop interventions to promote the use of mhealth among the patient population. 

What impact are you hoping to make with your research? 

About 25 percent of the heart failure patients are rehospitalized within 30 days of discharge from an acute care hospital, and 50 percent of patients are rehospitalized within 60 months of discharge. Current evidence attributes the high rate of rehospitalization to poor self-care engagement in the patient population. 

My research goal is to generate knowledge that may facilitate the adoption and utilization of mHealth in the patient’s population with the endpoints of improving self-care and decreasing hospitalization and mortality rates for heart failure patients.

Zheryl Baldonado, R.N., B.S.N., C.C.R.N.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Student, Seattle University

What are you studying? Why have you chosen to pursue this? 

As a former cardiac ICU RN (intensive care unit registered nurse) and a current neonatal ICU RN, my experiences with patients have shaped me to be a better person. As an FNP-DNP (family nurse practitioner — doctor of nursing practice) student, my goals are to obtain the skills as a leader and as an advanced practice nurse to improve access to healthcare for underserved communities. 

What do you love most about nursing? 

I enjoy learning people and their stories. Despite our differences, I enjoy building partnerships with patients. I am always thankful for the time that I am given to be their nurse. I love my colleagues. They have become my family and I am always learning from them. 

What has your program taught you that you hope to bring into your practice?

The values of Seattle University College of Nursing are a foundation for me as a future ARNP (advanced registered nurse practitioner). My hopes are that I will be ready to understand the needs of communities, provide trauma-informed care, and address the barriers to healthcare as an ARNP. 

What advice do you have for other nursing students or those wanting to pursue nursing?

Nursing is more than just a job. It will become a part of your identity. It is a commitment that will require difficult sacrifices. Nursing skills and knowledge develop over time, so persevere. 

Audra Hanners

Clinical Instructor, DNP Nurse Executive Program Student, Ohio State University College of Nursing

What program are you studying? Why have you chosen to pursue this?

Ohio State’s DNP (doctor of nursing practice) nurse executive program with a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certification will help me use evidence-based practice to translate research into clinical practice and create holistic, sustainable solutions to global healthcare problems.

What has your program taught you that you hope to bring into your practice?

I learned how to search for answers and opportunities rather than wait for them to come along. I learned to dream big and achieve the impossible. Most importantly, the reply, “Because we have always done it that way,” is never an answer to a problem when we want to innovate and promote wellness.

What do you love most about nursing?

I like the limitless possibilities. I love people and helping them live healthier lives. Nursing is a holistic approach to care that focuses on people and the environment around them rather than the disease process. As a nurse, I can connect deeply with people and positively impact their lives forever.

What advice do you have for other nursing students or those wanting to pursue nursing?

Define for yourself why you want to become a nurse. Know that you are unique and the world needs you. Be a reader, seek out mentors, and look for a college that will transform you. I know I will achieve my goals and the Ohio State mission to dream, discover, and deliver a healthier world!

Staff, [email protected]

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