Jade England Was Born to be an NICU Nurse

Jade England Was Born to be an NICU Nurse

It is not unusual for nursing and other healthcare professions to run in the family, but sometimes the connections that lead a new generation into nursing can be almost eerie.

Tara Wood, DNP, CRNP, NNP-BC was a NICU nurse when she gave birth to twins Jade and Taylor England. Her newborns weighed less than two pounds and spent their first 87 days in a NICU. At some point, it seems to have been written that at least one daughter was destined to return one day.

“We had central lines,” says Jade England, who is completing her BSN degree at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Nursing. Both sisters have a permanent souvenir of the constant care they needed from birth: “We still have that scar from where they were placed. It’s just crazy to see that we have actual proof of what we’ve been through.”

That scar is the only physical reminder of their journey. England knows how lucky they are to not have any complications from being born prematurely. Growing up, she saw the pictures of their tiny bodies covered in sensors and tubes. When she decided to become a nurse, she knew she had to return to where her story started—the NICU.

“You have to have compassion for those babies. You just have to be called to do that,” England said. “I want to be able to be that nurse to let the parents know that I was in their child’s place. I just want to provide the best care possible and hopefully sharing my story will make a difference in their stay in the NICU. I don’t want to give them false hope, but I also want them to know that miracles happen.”

“She literally walked me around the entire unit and was telling everybody, ‘this is my baby, I took care of her and her sister.’”

Jade England graduated in April and now works at UAB Hospital in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Her mother, Tara Wood – who is a member of the faculty at UABSON hopes her daughter will be able to give families the comfort she remembered needing.

“They’re going to be told all the bad, but when you can see a living example of success, I think it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to see what she does,” Wood said.

England will be working with one of the nurse practitioners who cared for her at the hospital where she was born. During her clinical at UAB, they made the connection.

“She literally walked me around the entire unit and was telling everybody, ‘this is my baby, I took care of her and her sister,’” England said.

“I think I found healing by helping others.”

Wood remembers not being able to hold her children for months. During that time, her lifeline to her girls was the nurses and nurse practitioners.

“My world was rocked,” Wood said. “My babies were really sick. Both of the girls were on the ventilator for weeks. Their organs were premature, and you’re faced with all the things that can go wrong. Just knowing that every minute mattered, it really put you in a constant state of terror and panic, of not really knowing how your babies are going to survive, much less thrive.”

She had planned on becoming a teacher, but the twins’ experience in the hospital changed her life. She realized she wanted to be a nurse so she could care for other families.

After working as a NICU nurse, Wood earned her Master of Science (MSN) in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the UAB School of Nursing. The journey came full circle for her as well. She’s now an Assistant Professor at the School and the Coordinator for the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track, teaching and preparing nurses to care for infants and families.

“Being a NICU mom 22 years ago we didn’t really talk about post-traumatic stress disorder and things like that that really lingered. I think I found healing by helping others,” Wood said.

Taylor England, Jade’s twin sister, also graduated from UAB this spring with a major in psychology with a minor in legal affairs and a certificate in mental health.

Jade wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and plans to return to school next year to start the Post-BSN to DNP Nurse Practitioner Pathway to earn her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. One day, she hopes to teach alongside her mom.

“I’m a proud mom and I want to share them with the world because I think that they were born to do great things,” their mother says. “They have servants’ hearts, and they want to help and do good.”

Once “Uncertain” About Nursing, This DNP Innovator Has Learned to Think Outside the Box

Once “Uncertain” About Nursing, This DNP Innovator Has Learned to Think Outside the Box

When Ingrid Johnson, DNP, MPP, RN, FAAN was an undergraduate, she wasn’t really sure if she was on the right path. At the time, she was pursuing a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

“I was ambivalent as a BSN student and early on questioned my decision to be a nurse as I wasn’t sure I really fit in the box of what a nurse was supposed to be,” Johnson said.

She decided to stay the course, relying on her intuition that as a nurse she’d have a variety of options outside the box. Now, not only is she a nurse, but she’s an advanced practice nurse, having graduated from Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation in 2017 with an advanced nursing practice (innovation leadership) DNP.

“I am so pleased I didn’t stop learning.”

Pursuing a DNP presented Johnson with the usual stresses and challenges: she continued to work a full-time job throughout and juggled job, parenting, and school duties. She recalls, “One day, my youngest approached me and said, ‘Mom, we never see your eyes anymore. You are always studying or working.’ It knocked me off my feet and I realized I needed to figure out some different habits so I wouldn’t miss my kids’ lives.” But the experience was also a game-changer: “Now I have a job that didn’t even exist when I first became a nurse. More education is never bad. I am so pleased I didn’t stop learning.”

Johnson, who is the president and CEO of the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence, continued to work full-time at the center (though in a different role) during her time in the DNP Innovation Leadership program.

Her DNP project was focused on growing programs for advanced practice registered nurses in rural areas. Johnson’s passion for that work carried over to her day job after graduation. “I continued to work on that and brought in several million dollars of funding to support building APRNs in rural and underserved communities across Colorado,” she said. “The United Health Foundation read my initial article on the project in Nursing Administration Quarterly and we have now expanded the project from an FNP focus to add PMHNPs.”

Even as she was promoted, Johnson remained committed to the program, and in 2021, she was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing on the power of that work.

Johnson has always understood the importance of lifelong learning for a nurse and sounds almost like a Greek philosopher when she says, “The real reason I sought a doctorate was that I knew education teaches us to think differently and ask different questions. One of the hardest realities for me was identifying that the more I learn, the more aware I am of how much more there is to learn.” Her DNP, she adds, “reminds me of that as I continue to learn new things from my staff and the world around me on a daily basis. It has been humbling and very gratifying.”

“We were not only permitted to think outside the box, we were also expected to do so and seek the evidence to support it.”

For herself, Johnson’s DNP journey helped her find her place as a nurse innovator. In her very first DNP course, “[Faculty members] Kathy Malloch and Tim Porter-O’Grady… pulled no punches and told us to think bigger, more creatively, and get out of our own way. I realized that in my whole career as a nurse and life as a student, we were told to follow the evidence and only do what we were told to do. Nurses follow evidence-based practice, so there was never the space to think outside the box. Now, we were in an innovation leadership program and we were not only permitted to think outside the box, but we were also expected to do so and seek the evidence to support it.”

To Johnson’s mind, “It was scary because over the years, I had been slapped down for not fitting the mold or for thinking of alternative ideas. When they told us that our job was to stop being a linear thinker and to find evidence around other less obvious solutions, it was incredibly freeing. I think we are born creative, and in an effort to learn evidence-based care and practice, we lose that, and often we are not permitted to find that side of ourselves again.”

The learning experience behind her DNP, Johnson remarks, also has made her a more perceptive nurse leader. Her doctoral work “opened my heart to look outside my own ideas and better listen and learn from those around me so we can innovate to support… I didn’t have the tools to really do that prior to this degree, but now I often have the right tools, and if I don’t have the right tools, I have the resources to figure out what tools I need and how to get them.”

What advice does she have for current and future DNP students? “Enjoy the process and embrace the reality that for the rest of your life, you will have more questions than answers … and that is OK. Stay curious. Remember that when you get feedback that doesn’t feel warranted, listen for what is true in the feedback. It can be your greatest gift. Even if only 2% of the negative feedback is correct, it may be exactly what you need. If you knew everything and did everything perfectly the first time out, you wouldn’t need to be there!”

Missouri NP and DNP Students Speak Up for Full Practice Authority

Missouri NP and DNP Students Speak Up for Full Practice Authority

Missouri faces a shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural and underserved communities, making it challenging for residents in some parts of the state to access health care services.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) can provide an alternative because they are trained to assess, diagnose, treat and prescribe for medical conditions in much the same way optometrists are trained to assess, diagnose, treat and prescribe for eye-related conditions.

But rules in Missouri restrict APRNs to practicing within 75 miles of their collaborating physician and require an initial one-month direct observation of practice between an APRN and an MD or DO and regular medical record reviews of the APRN from the MD or DO. What’s more, MDs and DOs cannot have collaborative practice with more than six full-time APRNs or physician’s assistants, and APRNs cannot conduct video visits or write for home health orders.

Fourteen graduate students in the University of Missouri–St. Louis College of Nursing joined faculty members Laura KuenstingCarla Beckerle and Louise Miller and other nurses from around the state in pushing for a loosening of these restrictions during the Association of Missouri Nurse Practitioners Advocacy Day on Tuesday at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri.

The students’ participation was part of an assignment for their course: “Healthcare Policy and Economics.”

“I think it is very important to hear from nurses on the frontline,” said Pamela Talley, an MSN-DNP student in the College of Nursing who practices at CHIPs Health and Wellness Center on North Grand Ave. in the city of St. Louis. “We see the issues daily. We became nurses to take care of people, in response to seeing people suffer. Nurses have an ethical responsibility to advocate on behalf of those underserved populations. I believe it is a social justice issue and we must advocate for access to health care for all people.”

The students and faculty spent Tuesday morning talking to legislatures such as Sen. Steven Roberts and Sen. Brian Williams about access to health care, including for Talley’s clientele at CHIPS, a nurse-founded, free medical care clinic where most providers are volunteers in what is considered a medical-provider shortage area.

“I’ve been practicing as a pediatric nurse practitioner for over 30 years, mostly in the emergency department,” Kuensting said. “Children are a vulnerable population, often without health insurance, leaving the emergency department as their only source of health care. Organizations such as CHIPs and other nurse-led clinics in medical provider shortage areas can facilitate health maintenance and avoid episodic care visits for individuals and their healthcare needs, but the barriers APRNs face in Missouri make providing care extremely difficult.”

Talley had the opportunity to describe how restrictions impact her ability to care for patients in her community.

“It was great meeting with state legislators to discuss the need to reduce practice restrictions,” Talley said. “These restrictions are a barrier to vulnerable populations in both rural and urban areas. The current collaborative agreement creates restrictions to fundamental access to health care for people to manage their health and to live a quality life.”

She added: “If nurse practitioners could have greater independence and a less restrictive practice they would be able to provide much needed care in those areas where there are the greatest needs.”

There is precedent. Missouri temporarily lifted these restrictions for nearly two years during the COVID-19 pandemic with no adverse events, though that temporary lift expired on Dec. 31.

More and more states have also taken to permanently grants APRNs full-practice authority. On April 10, New York became the 25th state to take such action, and the Veterans Administration issue full practice authority to APRNs, regardless of the state they practice in, about two years ago.

“This course, and particularly this experience, is important for our APRN students to understand why being aware of the issues affecting our practice matter,” Kuensting said, “and more importantly, how to advocate for change.”


Photo at top includes U Missouri St Louis College of Nursing faculty members and students (from left): Laura Kuensting, Pam Talley, Marina Fischer, Marie Turner, Brooke Shahriary, Louise Miller, Kate Skrade, Carla Beckerle, Taylor Nealy, Ann Mwangi-Amann, Paige Bernau, Lucy Kokoi and Tammy Vandermolen at the Missouri Capitol last Tuesday to take part in the Association of Missouri Nurse Practitioners Advocacy Day. (Photo courtesy of Laura Kuensting)

Help Your Nursing Grad Students Come to Grips With Data

Help Your Nursing Grad Students Come to Grips With Data

Evidence-based practice is at the heart of nursing—and most of that evidence is based on quantitative research. For nurses who are merely competent in math, though, interpreting the numbers can be a challenge. And if your own facility with statistics is middling, trying to mentor semi-numerate DNP students may leave you feeling helpless at times.

James Lani, PhD, MS.Help is on the way. On May 19, data analysis expert James Lani, Ph.D., MS is hosting a free webinar specifically aimed at faculty members who mentor graduate students for dissertation, thesis, or scholarly projects and are seeking to take their command of statistics to the next level to better guide those students.

Dr. Lani, the CEO of Intellectus Statistics, has been helping faculty and graduate students with their quantitative research for over two decades.

In his upcoming webinar session, Dr. Lani will use mock data to work through faculty and students’ research questions, prepare and graph data, select and conduct the correct statistical analyses, and demonstrate how to appropriately present results. He will also cover sample size and power analysis, data management, and visualization techniques, and at the end of the presentation, he can even provide faculty with project-specific help.

James Lani holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, an MS in Psychology with an emphasis in Experimental Methods from California State University Long Beach, a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, and minors in Mathematics and Human Services from California State University, Fullerton.

You can register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/9216511713809/WN_tr_bnpE4QYmZKj0rFDmtdQ. Grab your calculator, and be there … or be a confounding variable.

Webinar details

  • Date: May 19, 2022, 2 PM Eastern Time.
  • Who can attend: Faculty members in nursing, social work, counseling, public health, psychology, and health administration at any stage of their research or faculty who mentor students’ research as they pursue their degree (i.e., Dissertations, DNP Project for Nurses, Fieldwork and Supervision for Behavior Analysts, etc.)
  • Price: FREE
  • To register: go to https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/9216511713809/WN_tr_bnpE4QYmZKj0rFDmtdQ

DailyNurse/Minority Nurse Special Issue Focuses on DNPs

DailyNurse/Minority Nurse Special Issue Focuses on DNPs

For many nurses, education is truly a lifelong commitment, so the idea of a terminal degree may seem counterintuitive to your very nature. However, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is worthy of your consideration. In our new DNP-focused issue, Julia Quinn-Szcesuil provides an overview—from defining your own career goals to choosing the right program to overcoming the challenges. Admittedly, this career path is not for everyone. If your interests align more with research than clinical practice, for example, then you may want to focus on the PhD path instead. Like many nursing degrees, the DNP does offer you versatility in your career choices and there will be no lack of opportunities with the looming nurse faculty and nursing shortage, so the future is bright for DNPs.

If a role in leadership is your goal, you may want to opt for the DNP Executive Leadership track that many nursing programs offer, which emphasizes health care business principles and systems leadership for those pursuing Chief Nursing Officer type roles. Michele Wojciechowski talks with deans and directors of such programs to help you learn the difference and decide whether this particular path is right for you.

In any case, if you make the decision to pursue the DNP, you’ll want to pay attention to the seven attributes of a successful student from a fellow DNP. Jonathan V. Llamas, who received his DNP in 2019, shares his advice on making the most out of the program and setting yourself up for success.

The rewards of obtaining your DNP may not be as immediate as other degrees so you should weigh your options carefully depending on your current financial situation and career goals. But if you’re looking to blend academics and evidence-based practice to help make a real difference in patient care, look no further.

To view the issue, visit our magazine site at https://issuu.com/minoritynursemagazine/docs/minority_nurse_dnp_special_issue_2022.

The Making of a DNP-FNP: A 1st Generation College Grad’s Nursing Journey

The Making of a DNP-FNP: A 1st Generation College Grad’s Nursing Journey

If Marcela Dos Santos were to give advice to her past self, it would be this: Take care of yourself first.

As a future nurse practitioner, Dos Santos aims to bolster the importance of mental health along with physical wellness to provide truly comprehensive care to her patients. She hopes to break down stigmas around mental health, which is an area that she feels is neglected, especially within minority communities. She hopes to address mental health not only with patients, but among nurses as well.

“Especially for nurses, you’ll burn out if you don’t take care of what’s going on inside,” she says, “It’s going to start showing externally in how you treat your patients, in your care, in your job. I feel like [mental health] is very important to include in your own care.”

Dos Santos is a first-generation college student. She is the children of South American immigrants – her mother is from Colombia, and her father is from Brazil. Santos is grateful to have her family’s cultures instilled in her, especially through language. She speaks both Spanish and Portuguese.

Growing up as a witness to her parents’ work ethic and resilience inspired her to pursue her goals. However, with this willing attitude, Dos Santos also finds a co-existing stigma around mental health.

“In Latino culture, I feel like mental health is kind of absent in the sense that you don’t show emotion because it’s a sign of weakness,” she says, “But the way I see it is, it’s actually not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.”

Santos did not see herself as a nurse practitioner at the beginning of her journey in higher education. Originally, she wanted to become a clinical psychologist. After experiencing anxiety and depression herself in high school, she felt called to work with children and adolescents.

Following this calling, Dos Santos pursued an undergraduate degree in psychology, transferring to UCI from Irvine Valley College and graduating in 2012. In 2014, Santos began the doctorate program in physical therapy at Loma Linda University, which she enjoyed for its combined mind-, body- and soul- approach to healing. However, a few classes into her program, Santos realized that physical therapy was not the right fit for her.

In 2017, Dos Santos decided to make the transition into nursing. She came back to UCI as a part of the inaugural master’s entry program in nursing, which had just launched that year. The MEPN program is designed for students who want to pursue a master’s degree in nursing while holding a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. She graduated from this program with her M.S. in nursing in 2019.

This was not the end of her UCI journey. Today, Dos Santos is pursuing her third degree from UCI through the doctor of nursing practice-family furse practitioner (DNP-FNP) program. She plans to graduate in 2024 with her DNP.

After graduating, she hopes to work as an aesthetic nurse while incorporating mindfulness and mental health into the world of healthcare. Dos Santos is particularly interested in regenerative medicine, which focuses on enhancing the body’s healing abilities rather than making cosmetic changes.

Though it is a field not traditionally taught in medical schools, Santos found interest in aesthetics after conducting research in her undergrad years with Dr. Brian Wong, a UCI professor of otolaryngology who specializes in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

“With aesthetics, no matter how much you augment the external appearance, whatever you have going on inside is still going to reflect on the outside,” Dos Santos says. “Our thoughts can manifest into illness and healing the mind can also heal the body. Beauty comes from within.”

Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/sue-and-bill-gross-school-of-nursing/.

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