What is your current occupation and employer?
I currently live in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada and am employed as a Family Nurse Practitioner for the Northern Health Authority (NHA). The NHA is a progressive health authority that supports 35 Family Nurse Practitioners in providing primary care services across beautiful Northern British Columbia. Northern British Columbia offers stunning untouched wilderness, which makes for excellent hiking, snowshoeing, and mountaineering trails that I love to take advantage of in my free time. The major part of my practice is at Central Interior Native Health Society (CINHS), an urban primary care clinic located in downtown Prince George. At CINHS, we provide multidisciplinary health care services to approximately 1300 marginalised people. The mandate at CINHS is to serve any person who self-identifies as Aboriginal, any person who is homeless, and any person who is living with HIV. In addition, I practice in an outpatient specialty clinic for complex skin and soft tissue infections two half day per week. I also practice at the Prince George Regional Correction Centre (PGRCC) providing primary care services to both men and women inmates. Aside from clinical practice, I have the privilege of teaching at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), where I am an alumna. I teach in the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs as well as in the medical program.
Why did you decided to return to school for your DNP degree?
Deciding to return to school for a practice doctorate degree in nursing was especially important to me. I wanted to achieve the highest-level of preparation for the practice aspect of the nursing discipline. I am passionate about the nursing model of care provision in which the profession sees the patient through a lens of wholeness. In the atmosphere of an ever changing and increasingly complex health care system, I wanted to foot-hole myself into a position where I could evoke change in a meaningful way. My goal was and is to provide high quality adaptive health care services to our community’s marginalised population.
What was your deciding factor in choosing Gonzaga?
Gonzaga has a great reputation- and I don’t just mean for their basketball team! Gonzaga’s model of education that includes mind, body, and spirit is compelling as it resonates with my own life view. Gonzaga offers higher education that incorporates social justice and humanistic values in order to make a difference when serving the common good. I wholeheartedly believe in the dedication to higher-learning in order to respectfully serve others as a health care provider, and as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and community member.
How was the online learning experience for you?
With the exception of the convocation ceremony and the required 2-3 day immersion, the entire DNP program was delivered online via Blackboard. Getting started with the program was made easy through Gonzaga’s incredible support team. After being accepted into the DNP program, I received a detailed package, which clearly outlined my entire progression plan, an introduction to the School of Nursing (SON), and a resource handbook. I had a comprehensive telephone orientation to the package, to Blackboard, and to Zagweb with a very knowledgeable and kind support person. The few times that I did require IT assistance, the support was readily available by telephone. The online model really worked for me, as I was able to set up my own personal schedule at the beginning of each new semester.
What was your experience with the faculty? Peers?
Like Gonzaga itself, the SON faculty is driven by excellence in high quality education. It was an absolute pleasure to learn from each and every dedicated faculty member involved in my DNP education. They balanced their high expectations with supportive guidance, constructive feedback, and clear direction based on their own specialties. The DNP program and faculty has given me the tools to navigate complex health care systems. I appreciated that each professor was keen to make adaptive learning objectives for me, as a Canadian living within a different health care system. My student colleagues hailed from not only different States, but resided in different countries as well. As doctoral students, we all came from different areas in nursing, and I really enjoyed the blackboard board postings where I could appreciate and engage in many great discussions from other educated nurses with different perspectives.
Did you find/are you finding the program to be a good investment?
The DNP program was a fundamental investment in my education and in my future. Through the DNP program I have gained the education, knowledge, and power to evoke change in two important ways that affect many people. First, I have increased tools and skills required to systematically promote adaptive health care services by addressing the appropriate stakeholders, government officials, and policy makers. Secondly, I have increased knowledge and education in which to share as I teach my future students.
Speak to the experience of coming to campus for the immersion.
I was thrilled to come to Gonzaga for the required DNP immersion. I really wanted to see the campus and meet the faculty as well as some of my student colleagues. I was given very reasonable notification of when I would be required to attend the immersion. I was provided with a detailed travel information package, an agenda, and the requirements of the immersion well in advance. During the on campus session, I was able to meet and connect with nearly all of the faculty members who were warm and welcoming. I was able to present my project ideas and receive feedback and recommendations to move my plan forward in an effective and efficient way. As students, we received a grand tour of the entire beautiful campus. The immersion session really provides the solid connection to the school and to the faculty that I needed in order to progress through a challenging degree.
What do you expect to change after receiving your DNP or what has changed thus far?
Certainly after completing the DNP program, I have a little more time on my hands, however, I am putting that time to good use. With the research and work that I put into my DNP project, I was able to develop two new community-based primary care clinics for the Aboriginal and marginalised women in my community. The Nurse Practitioner-led primary care clinics are held at the Advocating for Women and Children (AWAC) shelter and the New Hope Drop-in Center for women. So far, the clinics have been well received by the community and by the women who use the service.
Dr. Tracey Day DNP, NP(F)
Family Nurse Practitioner