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Current DNP Student Profiles

 

Erika Giraldo, MN, ARNP, RN

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Specialty

DNP Student Profile Photo: Erika GiraldoDNP Student Profile Photo: Erika GiraldoBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

I had very little professional working experience in psychiatry other than volunteering by counseling women on bed rest with hyperemesis. But, I did have 13 years of personal experience with disabilities from mental health issues in my family. This experience led me to look into the PMHNP program because I found the brain and behavior fascinating. Honestly, I was looking into MA or PHD programs in psychology and I checked out the UW school of nursing website. Once I read about PMHNP’s, I applied right away. I knew that I could use my nursing and personal experience to help people with mental health concerns. I graduated last year and working at Shifa Health in Mill Creek, Washington as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner seeing adolescents and adults for a variety of mental health issues. I am now enrolled in the DNP program. I wanted to get the DNP because it will be the standard in the future for advance practice nurses. I also want to teach part-time in a college or university and felt that the DNP would give me the credentials to have that option.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

I was very comfortable working as a home health nurse. I had always wanted to go back to school but devoted my life to my family during a difficult time. Once my kids were in school and I had more support, I WENT FOR IT. After experiencing years of working with mental health care providers due to a family member’s disability, I was inspired to continue my education and pursue my studies in mental health. There is a shortage in child psychiatry and I wanted to contribute and help children and families. Currently, I work at Shifa Health in Mill Creek, Washington as a psychiatric nurse practitioner seeing adolescents and adults for a variety of mental health issues.

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

UW is a highly respected program. I chose the DNP because I felt like it would provide me with more options as an expert in nurse practice and variety in my career. It will provide me with the tools for future scholarship, leadership and success.

What excites you most about your program?

I am excited that the DNP is such a new program. I feel like a pioneer as all of the courses get “worked” out and our roles become defined.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

I learned to pace myself. I have three children and need to balance children, home life, school and starting a new business. The nice thing about the DNP program is that there is a nice mix of online, partial distance and in-person courses so that I do not feel completely overwhelmed by spending too much time on campus.

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

I was surprised how supported I was by my cohort. I also feel like I can approach my department chair at any time and she always makes the time to help me out. As far as the program, I was surprised that even though I did not have psychiatric experience, I did very well because of my medical background and personal experience. This is an exciting field for me.

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals?

My goal is to teach college part-time, work in private practice and volunteer for non-profit organizations. The DNP degree will allow me to increase my knowledge in providing evidence based clinical care by teaching me to effectively translate research into practice. This program will help me evaluate and improve health care delivery no matter where I practice.

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

In the master’s program, I have met life-long friends. We were all ages, came from different backgrounds and different work experiences but all came together in a supportive compassionate group. We worked together to get through school and we had fun. We still get together or stay in contact if they have sadly moved away. My friends at school made the entire experience well worth it. I just had a glass of wine with one of my classmates last night while she helped me build my website. I will never forget how much support that I got from my cohort and we will continue to support each other. I cannot wait to meet new friends in the DNP program!


Jacqueline Justis, BSN, RN

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Specialty

DNP Student Profile Photo: Jacqualine JustisDNP Student Profile Photo: Jacqualine JustisBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

I graduated from Seattle University with my BSN in the spring of 1999.  I went to work as a Public Health Nurse with Seattle-King county Public Health.  I have worked as a psychiatric nurse and as a medical nurse at King County Correctional Facility.  I have also worked per diem at an in-patient involuntary psychiatric facility but my love is working with children and families.   As a Public Health Nurse I provide home visit to high risk children and their families.  I love being a part of a diverse, multicultural community and hope to continue working with this population as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

It has always been my goal to continue my education beyond my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and to earn a higher degree as a Nurse Practitioner.  My plan was to earn my BSN and work several years to gain valuable hands-on experience before pursuing graduate school.  While working as a Registered Nurse at King County Correctional Facility, I became intimidated by the amount of responsibility and liability the Nurse Practitioner has.  As a Registered Nurse, I wasn't confident that only two additional years of schooling would be sufficient for me to step into the NP role.  This trepidation led me to hold off on pursuing the NP program.

Within the last several years there have been dramatic budget cuts in the health department, as a PHN I have seen how these cuts increase the barriers to health care and how that can affect children. With much reflection I decided to complete the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program in order to be able to work with this population at a higher level of skill and knowledge in order to promote change.

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

I specifically selected the University of Washington School of Nursing's DNP program because the program provides a higher level of theory, clinical experience, leadership and practice inquiry necessary to be the best prepared for independent practice.  The U.W. SON also has demonstrated a clear commitment to working with underserved populations which is congruent with my career goals.  

What excites you most about your program?

I love my clinical placements, the experience of my preceptors and the knowledge of my advisors.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

I am motivated to learning at a high level of competency.

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

I have found the faculty and students to be very supportive of the students and sensitive to student needs.

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals? 

The UW DNP program focus on the PNP and leadership.  The courses are preparing me to take a leadership role when I graduate. 

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

I have found the school of nursing advisors to be extremely helpful and supportive during my progress through the DNP program. I have been fortunate enough to be part of the Pediatric Pulmonary Trainee grant and have been mentored thought that program.


Jason Madrano, BSN, RN

Community Health Nursing (CHN) Specialty

DNP Student Profile Photo: Jason MadranoDNP Student Profile Photo: Jason MadranoBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

I earned my BS in Psychology from Seattle University in 2001, and promptly began working at a motorcycle shop. After several years of putting my degree to good use, the inevitable happened; I wrecked on my bike. Three dozen surgeries, two months in the hospital, and another month in a nursing home is all it took for me to realize I should consider a different career path. I took a job as a mental health specialist in an involuntary, inpatient psychiatric hospital. My experience there was incomparable. It opened my eyes. I was constantly confronted by the inequities and disparities in health care. I decided to dedicate my life to the service of others. I came to the University of Washington to pursue a future in nursing, with a focus on community health. I graduated from the graduate entry program in nursing(GEPN) with my BSN, and I am now a Registered Nurse. 

My focus of study is on community emergency preparedness, and the intersection of science, technology and public policy.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

I wanted to be stimulated by new ideas.  I wasn't entirely sure I was ready to go back to school, so I took prerequisite courses at South Seattle Community College.  In my first quarter, I took an intensive 8-week double course of anatomy and physiology, on top of microbiology.  To my surprise, I thrived on the challenge!  I knew then that pursuing graduate nursing education was the right choice. 

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

I am an adult learner, and I was excited by the accelerated BSN, coupled with Community Health Nursing graduate program.  The UW SoN's reputation is well known, and I was drawn to the commitment to service and scholarship.  Besides, I'm a Seattle native...I love this town! 

What excites you most about your program?

Bridging the gap between communities, practitioners and researchers.  When I see a community or public health problem, I am eager to find research evidence that addresses the problem and translate that evidence into an informed policy or program change.  I love figuring out puzzles, and I'm always looking for a better way to do things.  What's more, I am keenly interested in the intersection of science, technology, and public policy, as well as community emergency preparedness.  Being at the UW provides access to a unique and vast array of ideas that span disciplines. 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

When I found something I was passionate about, school work was no longer "work."  My studies are now a fascinating exploration of concepts and ideas.  

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

I no longer see education as a means to an end.  I now see that my education is a doorway to a whole world, previously unknown to me.  I am a passionate lifelong learner. 

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals?

I have made invaluable contacts at the UW and outside the university, and I have now a skillset that is marketable to future employers.  What's more, I have gained hands-on community experience in a variety of settings. 

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

I have had the privilege to work with a few outstanding mentors.  At the top of my list is Randall Beaton, PhD, recently retired from the SoN.  He took me under his wing, and supported my efforts at understanding emergency preparedness.  It was his direct guidance that sparked my interest in the subject.  He supported my development: as his TA by encouraging me to create online classes, and in my professional capacity by overseeing my work on the graduate certificate in emergency preparedness.

I believe that I could not be successful without the support and collegiality of my peers.  From the first moment of my BSN education, beyond the final moment of my DNP, my peers are more than just acquaintances.  I have made enduring professional relationships; these are the people with whom I share failures and successes, ideas and insights.


Donna Mason, BSN, RN

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Specialty

DNP Student Profile Photo: Donna MasonDNP Student Profile Photo: Donna MasonBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

I graduated from the University of Washington (UW) School of Nursing (SoN) in 2009 with my bachelors of science in nursing (BSN). While in my undergraduate program I completed a basic psychology course and fell in love with mental health, but also had a strong passion for nursing practice. I realized I could pursue both mental health and nursing as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). I was accepted to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) PMHNP Program and received my masters in passing in 2011. While going to school I have worked as a psychiatric nurse at a Child Long-term Inpatient Program (CLIP) working with youth who suffer from severe mental illnesses.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

While attending the UW SoN for my Bachelors in Nursing I realized that there was vast amount of activities that I wanted to perform beyond the BSN scope of practice. Initially, I had concern about going into graduate school without any previous clinical experience as a nurse. These fears were appeased by the UW SoN faculty who encouraged me in my educational pursuit with the success stories they had witnessed. It was at that point that I knew that I didn’t want to waste anymore time. I wanted to go to the top of my specialty and be a leader in pediatric and family mental health care.

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

There was no question in my mind. I wanted to attend the UW SoN for many reasons. First of all the UW SoN is an incredible school for graduate study. The UW SoN provides a holistic education surrounding evidenced based practice, patient centered care, and clinical practice. They also had a DNP program in my PMHNP specialty area. The faculty and staff here at the UW supported me though my bachelor’s degree and I knew I wanted to continue with them for my doctoral degree. I am also physically active and take advantage of the great outdoors here in the Pacific Northwest. There is such a cultural/ethnic diversity here in Seattle and I could not imagine living anywhere else in the world.  

What excites you most about your program?

The thing that I am most excited about for my program is to have the opportunity to say that I graduated from such a prestigious school. We have access to cutting edge research, highly respected staff, and extraordinary library liaisons who are so supportive of students learning process. I am also excited that the SoN recently started a perinatal mental health subspecialty that I will be able to complete before I graduating.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

The most important thing I learned about myself is the importance of living a balanced life. We are holistic beings and we must care for our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional self. This is especially important in graduate school when time is limited and requirements are high. As a mental health student I realized how important it is to lead by example. When I care for my own needs I am able to provide for the needs of my patients by being fully present. Taking breaks, spending time with loved ones, getting enough sleep, and exercising have helped me to function to my highest potential. Lastly, the importance of reflective practice has also challenged me to evaluate myself.

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

The thing that most surprised me about my experience was the introduction of the perinatal mental health sub-specialty during the final year of my doctoral program. Preventative care and treatment in infancy have been interests to me but had not previously had the courses available to aid in my learning. I was able to take on the perinatal sub-specialty on top of my required DNP coursework for a total of 18 credits for my final two quarters at the UW. The faculty worked with me to help me to find a way to meet my academic goals, continue working two jobs, and still graduate within the timeline I desired.

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals? 

My long-term goals are to practice as a pediatric and family mental health practitioner in the population of adolescents who have suffered abuse/neglect and teen moms with mental illness along with their infants. After gaining clinical experience it is my hope to teach nursing students at the graduate level while conducting research. The UW the education I am receiving in the doctoral program is preparing me in clinical practice, quality improvement, systems management, and evidence based practice research analysis for quality, validity, and patient preferences. My education will allow me to practice at the top of my specialty in advanced practice, teach at the graduate level, and conduct research.

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

My project chair, Elaine Walsh, was the perfect match for me and my educational goals and interests. She was always available to support me, gave me constructive feedback, and encourage me in my independence and leadership role.


Janet Regan-Baggs, BSN, RN

Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist (ACNS) Specialty

DNP Student Profile Photo: Janet Regan-BaggsDNP Student Profile Photo: Janet Regan-BaggsBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

I was struck by the critical care bug while a baccalaureate nursing student at the University of Calgary.  I have always been grateful to the staff nurses who provided an amazing experience during my formative education.  I worked with them for about a year after graduation before leaving Canada and coming to the United States for adventure and experience.  Now sixteen years later I still love critical care, having spent time in a variety of settings in both the US and Canada.  For the last 10 years I have worked at the University of Washington Medical Center’s Cardiothoracic ICU.  My bedside practice has changed from a focus on acute illness to an appreciation of the life-long impact of critical illness for our patients and families even when ICU stays are relatively short.  Early on I recognized how nursing care affects patients and families, I have been involved in nursing practice committees since 1996 bringing new knowledge and practice changes to the bedside.  Deciding to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist was a natural progression.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

The challenge of our very ill and complex patient population often left unanswered questions about nursing care practices.  I found myself involved in many process improvement projects and working hard to actually understand the processes and the factors needed for success. The next logical step for me was to learn how to answer clinical questions using evidence evaluation, pilot studies, and change theory but that would take higher education.  The flexibility of the graduate non-matriculated program and advice from the School of Nursing faculty helped me start on my path while my children were young and as I continued to work part time.  The program has remained flexible enough to complete my degree in the context of a busy family. 

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

The UW was never a question.  At the time I had been with either Harborview Medical Center or the University of Washington Medical Center for almost 10 years.  The commitment of these affiliated organizations to outstanding clinical care, research, education, and student support was obvious.  I was a colleague to students in the PhD, Nurse Practitioner, and Clinical Nurse Specialist programs; I participated in their projects and research and understood the high caliber of graduates.  But I wasn’t aware of the prestige of the UW Son until during rounds one morning an attending physician acknowledged the accomplishments of the unit’s nurses and the School of Nursing’s national ranking to the medical residents crowded in the hallway.  At the time I was newly admitted and proud to be a part of such a recognized institution.  Over the years of my program I have come to recognize the importance of the University of Washington’s School of Nursing to the Nursing community.  The far reaching effects of the faculty and their dedication to quality interdisciplinary research benefits a vast population.

What excites you most about your program?

There are so many things that have excited me about this program.  Initially it was a faculty who possessed strong research skills and excellent teaching abilities.  Then I was introduced to many Clinical Nurse Specialists on faculty and in the community who have precepted, mentored, and encouraged me throughout my program.  These professionals have diverse backgrounds, areas of focus, and research interests.  This group of individuals is focused on acute care nursing and the role of the CNS to improve patient care and outcomes.  Recently my curriculum’s focus on leadership has provided time and practice to work through complex clinical problems.  This experience during my education has translated to success in my professional life as I transition into a Clinical Nurse Specialist role within my specialty this spring.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

During my time as a student I have become more excited about the future of nursing then ever.  The value of nursing care and the role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist will be imperative to the future of healthcare that is dedicated to quality and ensuring value.  The confidence that my education has helped me develop lets me be active in my learning.  I am better at recognizing when I don’t understand a concept or when I haven’t identified the salient issues.  I have been able to propagate interdisciplinary and inter-organizational relationships and use the school’s ties to the community, as a starting point.  My student and family life has made me more productive and focused.  This has translated into better preparedness and organization in professional life.  Completing my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree has become a family affair as we work together to complete our school projects and homework.  I have learned the value of perseverance and self-forgiveness.

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

There have been two things that have surprised me the most.  First the flexibility embedded in the program to meet the needs of the student has made the DNP possible.  Finding the space in life to pursue higher learning can be a struggle.  Faculty advisors and students work together to get as much out of the educational experience, meet program objectives, and maintain life balance.  Secondly I have enjoyed the diversity of the student body.  A clear SON focus on a diverse student body has provided valuable learning from colleagues.  The UW SON attracts high caliber excellent students from around the country.  I was astonished at the level of international experience of my colleagues and I learned a great deal from their diverse knowledge and experience.  My cohort is highly motivated, patient, and human community focused group, interested in improving health.  They demonstrated their ability to navigate unfamiliar circumstances, and learn from experience.

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals?

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program and its focus on practice inquiry, advanced practice, and leadership is a perfect fit for CNS education.  The concepts of practice inquiry and evidence based practice were introduced during orientation and built upon during each class.  The skill and dedication of our UW librarians and professors has helped me gain comfort and confidence in looking at my nursing practice from an outcome standpoint.  My clinical rotations were invaluable.  I worked along side many clinical nurse specialists, as they navigated the obstacles in acute care on their way to assuring safe, efficient, outcome focused care.  This DNP program has leadership woven throughout the program within clinical rotations and class time.  Professors have used resources from throughout the university like the Foster School of business to really provide a well-rounded view of leadership.  In classes we discussed the changing nature of nursing, medicine, and healthcare in general providing me with a sense of possibility.  I am more excited now about the impact that nursing has and will have as the nation focuses on value driven healthcare.  I feel that now there is the possibility of really caring for a patient from the onset of critical illness right through to home and then into population health.  Even though I will be a novice in my CNS role I feel prepared and excited to take on the challenge.

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

I have the best mentors.  Drs. Elizabeth Bridges and Joie Whitney have been instrumental in my success.  They have helped me to navigate program requirements while considering my interests and areas for growth.  I have had the opportunity to travel and meet national leaders in critical care medicine and nursing.  My academic and community mentors have offered support, guidance, focus, and redirection.  They have helped me push myself to make my projects better.  The amount of time that they have given me so that I could accomplish my academic goals has not gone unnoticed.  I look forward to returning the favor in the future by mentoring new students.

 


Lauren Sacco, BSN, RN

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Specialty
 

Lauren Sacco: Profile ImageLauren Sacco: Profile ImageBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

I received my ADN from Lake Washington Technical College in 2007 and immediately began working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) here in Washington. It was during this time that I had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNP) that not only encouraged me to continue my educational career but also demonstrated the importance of the Nurse Practitioner role. I graduated from the University of Washington Bothell campus with my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in 2010. I was accepted into the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) NNP program in the fall of 2011. While going to school I have continued to work as a registered nurse in the NICU.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

While working toward my BSN I realized my potential and love for the leadership role as well as my hunger for knowledge. Continuing my education would not only provide me with the necessary tools to achieve this goal but also the ability to gain new knowledge and share that within this very specific population.

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

I had such a wonderful experience during my BSN education and with the reputation that the UW’s Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program has, I knew that it was a perfect fit. Many of my mentors and highly regarded NNP’s in the community had attended this program or were involved in the program currently and that made the decision to attend an easy one.

What excites you most about your program?

This program has not only given me the skills I need to practice to the best of my ability in the field of neonatology but it has also given me the knowledge to incorporate evidence based research into current practice. Nowhere else would I have the opportunity to work toward both of these achievements and also have the support of some of the most highly regarded and experienced experts in this field.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

I have learned that my ability to approach a problem with diligence and well developed critical thinking skills in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team is both rewarding and key to my success. I know that I will not always have all the answers but my ability to seek out the right information is a useful tool that I will carry with me throughout my career.

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

The friendships with fellow students and guidance from professors and mentors have been invaluable in my path to achieving my goals. I hold these relationships close to my heart and would have been able to successful without them.  

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

I cannot begin to describe how valuable my experiences have been with the mentors in this program. The knowledge and expertise they bring to every aspect of the education experience has helped to build the basis of my education and has given me the foundation I need to be successful in my future work. 


Kathryn Siebert, BSN, RN

Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP) Specialty

DNP Student Profile Photo: Kathryn SiebertDNP Student Profile Photo: Kathryn SiebertBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

In 2006, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, and then moved to San Diego, CA to begin my career as a Registered Nurse.  I worked for four years at an academic medical center taking care of adult oncology patients.  This work was the most challenging thing I had ever done, and simultaneously, the most rewarding.  I quickly developed a passion for this patient population, and knew that it would become my life’s vocation.  I had the opportunity to work closely with Nurse Practitioners.  I admired their steadfast dedication to the patients and their families, and the advanced role they held in managing care.  I appreciated the collegiality between the nurse practitioners and the oncologists, and as time progressed, more and more I could see myself taking on the role of a nurse practitioner.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

After my first two years of working as an RN, I thought it would be beneficial for me, and in the best interest of my patients, to become a certified oncology nurse.  In preparing for and taking the OCN exam, I gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of continued education.  In addition, I found that I had more questions, and I wanted to gain in-depth knowledge pertaining to disease process and treatment of oncology patients.  I reached a point where I felt I was a competent oncology RN, and with my desire to learn more, I knew I was ready to pursue an advanced degree.

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

I chose the University of Washington School of Nursing due to its renowned reputation and dedication to excellence.  I had a colleague that spoke to the high-caliber of the faculty, sharing that they were professionals who viewed their students as their future colleagues and as a result, were truly devoted to seeing their students succeed. 

More specifically, I chose the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree because I saw it as the “way of the future.”  I knew that I wanted a clinically focused degree, and I was drawn to the DNP because it is a comprehensive approach to advanced practice.  It not only focuses on the clinical aspect of patient care, but also emphasizes the importance of leadership and inquiry, qualities that need to be nurtured in an ever-changing health care system.

What excites you most about this program?

I was/am most excited about studying at a university in a culturally-rich city, which provides a breadth of experiences to work in various settings and with individuals of all walks of life.  Also, I was excited to come to Seattle to have an opportunity to work with a world-renowned, UW affiliated cancer center.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

I have learned how to approach challenges with a higher level of tenacity - knowing that I will not always have the answer, but having confidence in knowing that I have developed the skills to uncover an answer.  In addition, as I have progressed through the program, I have grown from feeling like an “imposter” to owning my role as a professional amongst other health care providers.

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

I have been pleasantly surprised by the genuine relationships I have formed, not only with fellow students, but also with faculty and individuals throughout the community.  Since I was brand new to Seattle when I started grad school, I have greatly appreciated the connections I have made throughout my experience.

How is your UW education preparing you to meet your professional goals?

My future goal is to continue my work in oncology, soon in a new role as an Adult Nurse Practitioner.  UW has provided me with a broad educational experience.  Through my degree program, I have developed a firm foundation in primary care, and have also been given the opportunity to pursue my chosen specialty through my clinical placements.  In addition, I feel the DNP degree will provide me with the skills needed to take on various roles throughout my career.  The possibilities are ENDLESS!

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

Mentors have presented themselves in various roles… Seminar leaders, Faculty Clinical Advisors, Preceptors, Academic Advisors, and Committee Members.  I had many mentors in undergrad, partly because we had a small program and I felt we had an opportunity to work closely with the entire faculty.  I was a bit nervous about going to a large university, wondering if I would receive support.  My worries quickly vanished as I met each of the abovementioned individuals.  From the very beginning, I could sense that they were sincerely invested in my education, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Kumhee Ro, DNP, ARNP, has been my Faculty Clinical Advisor throughout my entire year of clinical experiences.  She has been an ongoing source of support, offering priceless guidance and feedback, and showing a genuine interest in my progression through the program.  She is someone that I could comfortably approach with concerns or questions, and someone that offered persistent encouragement.  I GREATLY appreciate the role she has played in my education.


Lisa Tran, BSN, RN

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Specialty

DNP Student Profile Photo: Lisa TranDNP Student Profile Photo: Lisa TranBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

I graduated from the University of Washington - School of Nursing with my Bachelor’s degree in 2007. During this program, I was given the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Thailand for my Community Health and Psych quarter with faculty members, Josephine Ensign and Michael Kennedy. This opened my mind to having the desire to provide care in a primary care setting to the underserved population. When I graduated nursing school, I was one of the few who did not have the desire to work in a hospital setting. My first, and only, nursing position, started in October 2007 at a community health clinic in South Seattle. My role there was as a Primary Care RN.  Our population comprised of immigrant, refugee, uninsured, and/or low-income patients. The role was heavily made up of patient health education, chronic disease management and education, and triaging.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

We commonly called out patients about their test results, to see how they were doing, and to assess if they had any health changes. These were all primarily appointed by their primary care provider (PCP). When a patient had a health related question, and if it required an assessment, diagnosis, and plan, we would refer the patient to their PCP and that ended our care with the patient, unless we were to follow up with them. Granted, triaging gave us the ability to give home care advice, but as a registered nurse, you are not allowed to diagnosis a patient with any conditions and to recommend diagnostics or a treatment plan based on the diagnosis. I knew that I wanted to take the next step towards my educational goal when I thought to myself “There is so much more that I can do for these patients, but my level of education and licensure does not allow for that.” I felt that there was “more” that I was capable of performing beyond the scope of my current licensure. I felt that I could make a bigger difference if I can also perform assessments based on patient history, perform/order diagnostics, and create a treatment plan with the patient. Then I would be able to help them even more.

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

To be honest, I knew that I wanted to go to UW because I am an alumni from this school, it is in Seattle, and for its reputation of being a top graduate nursing school in the United States. I chose the FNP program because it would give me a broader scope of practice to care for patients of all ages, which, in turn, would hopefully translate into having a higher chance of getting hired when I graduated. I also like how the program is structured to prepare us to work in primary care settings, which is where I’d like to be.

What excites you most about your program?

The ability to practice with a full range of patients, from birth to geriatrics, from all walks of life. To be invited into someone’s life and help them with what they need.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

That I know more than I think I do. I crave learning and bouncing ideas off of my peers, preceptors, and professors. I am humble with what I know, yet I am able to take care of my patients in a confident and collaborative approach.

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

That, although I don’t feel as confident as I’d like during clinicals, I am amazed at how far I have come in terms of history taking, physical exams, assessments, and plan. It also surprises me that there is always something positive that I can take from every experience in this program, whether it is patient care, program logistics, etc.

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals? 

I am having a broad range of clinical experiences, which is helpful in preparing me to practice with the population that is defined within my scope of practice. I am seeing different diseases and illnesses that are helpful for me because I am practicing in how to assess and treat these problems. We are taught to always pay attention to health promotion needs, which has helped me make sure that I am also providing preventative care for health at each visit.  We are also taking classes in health informatics, appraisal of evidence based practice, leadership, social justice, and health policy that will make my background diverse in approaching the fragmented and costly US health care system.  Hopefully, I will be able to help add or support a more efficient and cost-effective system. My capstone project will help me build my leadership and communication skills and my ability to collaborate with a multitude of professionals. It will help me aid in the betterment of an organization and community with a health impact focus. This will likely be a part of my career after I graduate.

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

My experience has been great. I get great feedback and discussions with my faculty clinical advisors, preceptors, professors, and peers. It is a great environment that fosters confidence, yet understands that we are novices and students first. I could not have been any luckier with my group of peers. We get along and are always willing to help each other out. It is nice to know that there is always someone to talk to who is going through the exact same experience that you are. It is a humbling experience to know such amazing people that will use their education, advocacy, charisma, thoughtfulness, and passion to change the world.


Suzanne Wilson, MPH, MPA, BSN, RN

Nurse-Midwifery (NM) Specialty 


DNP Student Profile Photo: Suzanne WilsonDNP Student Profile Photo: Suzanne WilsonBriefly, tell us about your background leading to your current program of study.

Prior to starting at the University of Washington I founded a non-governmental organization benefiting women and children on the Coast of Kenya (EastAfricanCenter.org). The organization operates several programs, mainly focusing on health and education.  As part of our work, we offer a low cost health clinic providing growth monitoring and immunizations for infants and children, as well as antenatal care for low-income women.  It was, in part, my desire to serve women more directly that led me to the nurse-midwifery program at the UW. I look forward to expanding my role from administrator to care provider in the coming years, and ultimately leaving a legacy of service to this often-marginalized population.

How did you know you were ready to take this next step toward your educational goal?

I knew I was ready when I felt a strong desire to serve women more directly than my current administrative post would allow. I was excited about the prospect of being able to provide care in resource poor settings, and literally save a life if the circumstances necessitated. 

Why this program, and why specifically at UW?

The nurse-midwifery program is teaching me critical skills necessary for helping women through one of the most medically precarious and transformational experiences of their lives. The UW is the right place for this training as it offers faculty with a wide breadth of interests, doing work in practically every region of the world. I know that my global interest in nurse-midwifery will be supported within, and far beyond, this top rated School of Nursing.

What excites you most about your program?

I am excited to eventually graduate from a program that will give me the skills necessary to have a rewarding career, and to leave a lasting legacy in my field. By choosing the UW, the sky is the limit for me and my career. I can’t wait to see the opportunities that will open up for me in the future. 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

I have learned that I am worthy of having a “seat-at-the-table” where key decisions are made. I am capable of contributing to program and policy decisions and setting the direction for institutions in ways that will bring about meaningful change to whole populations. Not only am I being prepared as an excellent care provider, but I am gaining the research tools to be a key decision maker and leader. 

What has pleasantly surprised you about your experience?

I was worried about going back to school with a young child, but have been pleasantly surprised by all of the support I have received from the school. The faculty has been tremendously supportive and I actually appreciate the flexibility that I have by being a graduate student.  The schedule is demanding, but the flexibility (with online classes, and numerous electives) help make going to school with a family possible. 

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals?

I would like to deliver direct patient care, in the US and abroad, and work in international development on a policy level. The tools I am gaining from the School of Nursing, combined with other classes I have taken at the UW’s Evans School, and within the School of Public Health will ensure I have the analysis, leadership and development skills necessary to be successful in whatever capacity I choose. 

Tell us about your experience with mentors.

The friends I made in the first year of my nursing program have become like family to me. Their support was (and continues to be) indispensible.  From babysitting help, to late night study sessions, to just providing a good laugh at a challenging moment, the friends I have made in this program have been crucial  to my success.  As far as faculty mentors, they have always been willing to answer my questions and give encouragement. I feel that they are sincerely invested in seeing me realize my full potential. This is a challenging program, but the support I have received, from my colleagues and my faculty mentors, make it not only possible, but enjoyable and tremendously rewarding.