In modern society, healthcare needs are dynamic and continue to evolve such that effective patient care requires that nurses have a sound understanding of science as well as achieve high competence in practice. Increasingly, there is an acknowledgement that nursing leadership is critical to healthcare reform, advancement of the healthcare systems, and the goal of improving healthcare outcomes for patients and populations. Acquiring education as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) represents an important opportunity for me to train to be a leader in nursing practice, gain advanced skills for scientific enquiry, and subsequently, be able to apply such skills in problem solving in practice. The training will enable me practice at the most advanced level of the profession as well as pursue solutions to professional practice issues that are of special interest and concern to me.
Nurses are central to the existence, functioning, and advancement of the healthcare system. Having an efficient, well-trained and fully performing nursing workforce is central to achieving national health goals. Healthcare needs in modern times are even more dynamic and challenging as a result of issues such as diversity in populations, proliferative incidence of chronic diseases associated with lifestyle choices, and the demographic changes such as an increasing aging population across most developed nations. Thus, the cadre of nursing services required to meet these new needs is evolving in tandem with the societal change. It is important to assure that a nursing workforce is in place that can meet the diverse needs of diverse populations; nurses must possess the requisite transformational leadership skills to be able to deliver care in ways that transform peoples’ lives while maintaining strict focus on official protocols and guidelines in care provision; the needs of nurses must also be met – requisite professional tools must be provided to them as well as appropriate support to assure positive work-life balance and self-actualization.
However, nursing shortage currently represents a serious problem affecting healthcare delivery. This shortage is occurring at a time when there is critical need for nursing services, at a time when there is an increase in the aging population globally, an increasingly global and diverse society, and increasing demands for both primary and specialized health care. The factors responsible for this shortage appear to be multi-dimensional. First of all, there appears to be low enrollment in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, as well as limited enrollment seats due to lack of qualified faculty to teach at these programs. Similarly, there is also huge problem with nursing attrition. It is not clear whether attrition is due primarily to contextual issues or largely due to systemic factors in the existing healthcare organization. There is an urgent need to increase awareness about this problem, its impact on overall healthcare goals, and the need to change the status quo. It is imperative to examine the issue of nursing shortage and understand its diverse aspects thoroughly, in order to develop effective solutions. Addressing this problem effectively will also likely require a multi-dimensional strategy.
My doctoral studies will focus on the issue of nurses’ shortage, attempting to understand this problem deeply and then developing solutions that will work effectively in practice settings. A critical inquiry into the phenomena of increased attrition among racial and ethnic minority nursing students to understand why it is occurring will be carried out, along with developing solutions to improve the recruitment and retention of such students. The inquiry will examine the lived experiences of minority students and staff nurses. The study will elicit their perceptions regarding training and working in the nursing profession respectively. Any systemic or contextual issues that impact on nursing students from minority groups will be elicited and factors that promote their retention or intention to stay in the profession elicited. Such empirical evidence will then be used to examine current policies at the national and local levels, to see where changes are needed or structures that need to be put in place. It is important that policy makers establish and support processes that will assure sufficient nurse-patient ratios in practice settings. At the local levels, the evidence obtained can be used to guide organizational-level policies and human resources practices, such that structures that promote nursing retention can be strengthened.
I am passionate about advancing the nursing profession through my personal involvement in caring for patients as well as through a strong desire to see that other equally passionate persons are provided the support, tools, and opportunities they need to enter into the profession and thrive in it. I am very committed to safe and effective care for patients and families resulting in desired health outcomes. At the same time, I have a clear vision of the role of nurses in assuring that this outcome is achieved. I am aware that doctoral level training and especially, a doctor of nursing practice training is a rigorous integrative practice experience and will also involve an intensive practice immersion. I am confident that I have the discipline and sense of commitment to engage in my studies effectively and successfully. I humbly look forward to this doctoral training and subsequently, to be able to serve families and communities, and advance nursing practice, through the advanced skills, knowledge, and credentials I will gain through the doctoral program.