Navigating the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program: Top 10 Tips for Success

Navigating the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program: Top 10 Tips for Success

Embarking on a Doctor of Nursing Practice Program (DNP) is a significant stride towards advancing your career in healthcare. Amidst the increasing demand for advanced nursing professionals, selecting the right DNP program becomes crucial. The DNP program has many options: online, hybrid, and in-person.navigating-the-doctor-of-nursing-practice-program-top-10-tips-for-success

However, before diving into the intricacies of program selection and study strategies, ask yourself this most important question: Why pursue a DNP degree?

Clarity on your motivation, the purpose of obtaining your doctorate, and your post-graduation plans sets the foundation for a successful journey. There are various potential roles for the DNP graduate, which include roles in nursing education, administration, health policy, nurse practitioner, or informatics. The DNP program prepares nurses to generate new knowledge through innovation of practice change and translating evidence to practice.

This article explores the top 10 tips for prospective DNP students, covering various aspects such as program selection, study strategies, the importance of a study partner, curriculum evaluation, cost considerations, and understanding program outcomes and final expectations.

Top 10 Tips for Success in a DNP Program

1. Research and Select the Right Program: Choosing the right DNP program is crucial. Consider factors such as accreditation, faculty expertise, and the programs alignment with your career goals. Thorough research ensures a program that meets your expectations and provides a solid foundation for your future in nursing. Speak to other nurses in the current DNP program to get a sense. Selecting a program that meets your personal needs and that is flexible is imperative for your success.

2. Understand the Curriculum: 
Please read every detail in the curriculum before committing to a DNP program. Assess if the coursework aligns with your professional interests and career goals. A well-rounded curriculum ensures a comprehensive education and equips you with the skills needed in todays complex healthcare environment. To be fully transparent, I purposely selected a doctoral program that did not have statistics because I did not want to retake it! However, the program did have a tremendously helpful economics course.

3. Evaluate Program Costs: 
Financial considerations are critical. Evaluate the overall cost of the DNP program, including tuition, fees, and any additional expenses. Look for potential scholarships, grants, or employer assistance programs to alleviate the financial burden. Most institutions have a payment plan that you can set up if needed. I did a lot of research before selecting my university. It was vital for me to have a physical university with an excellent reputation and history. I strongly recommend being strategic and not just paying extra money to have a prestigious school name on your resume.

4. Create a Realistic Study Plan: Balancing a DNP program with work and family commitments requires careful planning. Develop a realistic study plan considering your workload, responsibilities, and preferred learning pace. Creating a realistic plan can prevent burnout and reduce anxiety. I did most of my schoolwork at night because everyone was sleeping. Plus, I know that I function better at night.

5. Consider a Study Partner/Colleague support: A colleague or study partner can enhance your DNP experience. Collaborative learning fosters a supportive environment, provides different perspectives, and facilitates sharing resources and study materials. I had two close friends in the program, and having that continued support was instrumental to my success. We held each other accountable and called daily to check on each other to ensure we were ok or remind each other to submit assignments on time.

6. Utilize Online Resources: Use online resources and platforms to supplement your learning. Many DNP programs offer virtual libraries, discussion forums, and additional study materials. Embracing technology can enhance your understanding of the coursework and make your life easier. Please use all the resources you have available to you. Please learn how to do a proper library search for articles because it will save you hours of work. The librarian can be your best friend throughout the program.

7. Prioritize Self-Care: 
Balancing work, family, and a complex academic program requires self-care. Prioritize physical and mental well-being to sustain energy levels and focus throughout the DNP journey. This is harder said than done. I strongly recommend scheduling self-care time and activities. The DNP program is a rigorous program with high demands. Real talk: I cried several times and wanted to quit. However, I kept thinking of my kids, and my motivation kicked into gear.

8. Effective Time Management: 
Mastering time management is crucial for DNP success. Create a schedule that allocates dedicated time for coursework, work obligations, and personal commitments. Efficient time management ensures a well-rounded and fulfilling experience. It sounds silly, but please read the entire syllabus before your course begins.

9. Stay Proactive and Communicate with Professors: 
Maintain an open line of communication with your professors. Staying proactive ensures that you receive timely guidance, support, and feedback. I procrastinated during my DNP program, so I would not recommend it. Establishing a solid rapport with your professors can positively impact your academic journey. I sometimes found asking for sample examples for specific assignments helpful in understanding the expectations better.

10. Understand Program Outcomes and Final Expectations: Be clear about the DNP programs ultimate expectations and ask many questions. Understand whether you must implement a study or present a project proposal. I had to submit my study to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval. From personal experience, I strongly recommend creating a toolkit. I created a Stress Reduction Toolkit for Nurses. I often joked about using those same stress reduction strategies during the DNP program. Knowing the program outcomes ensures you are prepared for your academic journey and can confidently meet the final expectations.

I strongly recommend not comparing your DNP journey to anyone else. Please give yourself grace and be patient. I failed a DNP course, my DNP proposal course, and I was distraught. It was a long, complicated story that ended in a denied appeal from the Dean. I was distraught when it was happening; however, I realized that perhaps God had a different path for me. We know that not all paths are linear, and neither was mine. It taught me to be more patient and more precise.

I recently completed my DNP program in organizational leadership. My goal is to combine my experience in emergency medicine, education, and leadership into an exciting role where I can apply all my knowledge and skills. I am passionate about education, career development, and growth for all nurses, particularly novice nurses.

I am dedicated to improving workplace culture and wellness due to my previous experiences with toxic workplaces, discrimination, and bullying. My mission is to empower all nurses globally to pursue their personal, professional, and business goals. I started my DNP journey three years ago, and it has been a roller coaster ride. My experience of juggling a full-time job, a young family, and a business highlights that completing a DNP program is feasible and immensely rewarding with determination and a strategic approach.

Enrolling in a Doctorate Nurse Program can be overwhelming, but success is achievable with careful consideration and strategic planning. Integrating these top 10 tips into your DNP journey allows you to navigate the challenges and reap the rewards of advanced nursing education.

Remember, there is never a right” time to start; its about finding the time that works for you and committing to the journey.

Good luck! 

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Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Dr. Farah Laurent

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Dr. Farah Laurent

Meet Farah Laurent, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, NPD-BC, CPXP, TCRN, CPEN, CEN. She is a nurse career coach and passionate about helping other nurses achieve their career goals. Dr. Laurent is a former level 1 trauma emergency nurse and a strong advocate for nurses. She is the director of nursing for a nursing program at a community college and an active member of various nursing organizations such as the National Nurses in Business Association, ENA, ANA, NLN, DNP of Color, and AONE. Her goal is to make a positive impact in the nursing profession every day. Meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-farah-laurent

Dr. Laurent’s mission is to empower nurses, especially nursing students, to advocate for themselves, their patients, and the profession. She amplifies nurses’ voices through her LinkedIn show “The Nursing Dose with Farah,” where she interviews nurses from around the world to speak on different nursing topics such as leadership, mentorship, nurse entrepreneurship, wellness, and career tips. Dr. Laurent is a nursing trailblazer and the founder of Farah Laurent International Nurse Coach LLC, where she provides unparalleled career guidance to help nurses level up and land their dream positions. 

She actively mentors for the American Nurses Association and the Canadian Black Nurses Alliance and is dedicated to advancing the profession and increasing diversity in the nursing workforce. Dr. Laurent is not only changing the nursing game, but she’s also transforming the entire industry with her electric energy and unwavering commitment to excellence. She is a force to be reckoned with!

Dr. Laurent is an important nursing leader, and we’re proud to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2024. The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

Meet Farah Laurent, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, NPD-BC, CPXP, TCRN, CPEN, CEN, a director of nursing for a nursing program at a community college and a nurse career coach.

What is your title, and where do you work? Feel free to include a side gig, too.

I am currently the Director of Nursing for a nursing program at a community college.

I am the founder of Farah Laurent International Nurse Coach, where I provide career guidance to nurses looking to enter the nursing profession or change careers! I am a dynamic speaker, author, educator, workshop facilitator, and world traveler!

I host my own LinkedIn live show entitled “The Nursing Dose with Farah,” where I interview different nursing guests and cover topics that matter to the nursing community. I plan to turn it into a Podcast in the next few weeks, and it will be available on Spotify.

Talk about your role in nursing

As a Nurse Career Coach, I assist all nurses with career guidance, no matter where they are in their careers. Some of my most popular services include resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, and career clarity. Most of my clients are new graduate nurses; however, I have also helped nurses land educator roles and leadership roles.

I guide nurses on how to self-promote, communicate confidently, and be more visible! After working with me, most of my clients have one common theme: experiencing a change in mindset and a transformation of increased confidence.

As a nursing student, I did not see faculty that looked like me or had no mentors. One of my clinical instructors once told me in my senior year that I would never be an emergency nurse and laughed in my face. I did not listen to that negativity and passionately pursued my dream of becoming an emergency nurse as a new graduate nurse! I became a very successful emergency nurse with multiple certifications. I was awarded the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) doctoral scholarships. I also most recently was allowed to be a peer reviewer for the Journal of Emergency Nursing (JEN), which I am incredibly proud to be a part of.

I am passionate about this career coaching business because today, I am what I need as a new nurse. I am all about empowering nurses and celebrating the nursing profession! I am here to disrupt the status quo and shatter old nursing narratives.

As the Director of Nursing at the community college, I lead a team of nursing faculty and coordinate the nursing program to achieve excellent program outcomes. I am proud that this community college is contributing to increasing the diversity in nursing.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

Although it does seem like that long ago, I have been a nurse for over 20 years. I started my career in Canada as an emergency nurse. I then combined my love of Emergency Medicine and traveling by moving to New York City as a travel nurse. I worked in various emergency departments and level 1 trauma centers. Naturally, I became a preceptor, mentor, and coach, so I pursued my master’s in nursing education. It took me over 2 years to land an educator role, but I was relentless. I simultaneously accepted 2 positions as adjunct faculty for NYU and as a clinical educator.

Although I had some wonderful experiences as a nurse, I also faced many challenges with bullying, discrimination, and racism. I held various roles in education and leadership. I experienced a blindsided layoff as the Director of Education, which was a complete awakening for me. I realized that there is no such thing as job security and had to rely on my coaching income until I found my next position.

As a recent business owner, I am committed to helping other nurses find their space in entrepreneurship. I wrote a book entitled “Nurses Making Money Moves: A Nurses Guide to Starting a Business.” The traditional education system does not promote entrepreneurship, especially not in nursing. I want nurses to be exposed to different nursing roles and opportunities beyond the beside. Throughout my nursing career, I consistently had 2 or 3 jobs to supplement my income. Sometimes, it can be challenging in these nursing streets, and nurses want to make more money!

Why did you become a nurse? 

I was always attracted to healthcare and helping people. I used to use all the Band-Aids for my dolls and would nurse them to health as young as 4. One of my favorite shows was “Trauma: Life in the ER,” so I was meant to be an ER nurse! My career choices were being either a choreographer or a professional photographer, so I chose wisely! My personality is laid back, calm, adventurous, and humorous, so I fit right in!

What are the most essential attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Leaders should have integrity, empathy, emotional intelligence, patience, and humility. Leaders should be creative, inclusive, transparent, strategic/critical thinkers, optimistic, passionate, and accountable. Nursing leaders should be charismatic, effective communicators, and lead by example. They should have a strong vision that can inspire others into action and create new leaders.

Most importantly, leaders must listen to their teams and collaborate easily.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a nursing leader means genuinely caring about people, whether those people are patients, employees, colleagues, or external stakeholders. I am most proud of the values my parents instilled in me. It does not matter who it is; everyone deserves kindness, respect, and understanding.

I am proud of how I connect with people and the relationships I have built, mentoring nurses and empowering them to pursue their dreams, goals, and aspirations. Nursing is not just a profession; it is a calling. I am proud to be a nurse; it is truly an honor and privilege. Nurses make an impact in the world every single day.

I am proud of obtaining my doctoral despite all the hardships I have faced and that I am a role model for my 2 young children. I am proud to be an immigrant and first-gen graduate!

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I sometimes found it very hard to advance to new roles or get promoted even though I was the most qualified candidate. I have fought extremely hard to get to where I am today, and it was a challenging climb. This career path has no linear path and many winds and turns.

My grit and conviction in my abilities have gotten me this far. I always had a passion for learning and continuous improvement. I would create goals, smash them, and move on to the next. I hold 6 board certifications. I recently graduated from a DNP program in organizational leadership. I started my doctoral program while working full-time when my daughter was just a few months old, and my son was 4. Everyone thought I was crazy, including some of my family members, but I was determined to do what I wanted.

I have some great preceptors and mentors along my nursing journey. This is why I am such an advocate for mentorship. I serve as a mentor for the American Nurses Association and the Canadian Black Nurses Alliance. Representation matters, so I like to make myself visible to other nurses.

I love sharing my nursing journey because many other nurses can relate, and it can give me the strength to keep moving forward. I have participated in many nursing organizations, such as the ANPD, ENA, STN, AONL, NLN, and most recently, the DNP of Color. I am committed to advancing our profession and working to increase diversity in our workforce.

I am a passionate and dynamic speaker. I have spoken at many different nursing conferences and events. I recently spoke at the National Nurses in Business Association about nursing entrepreneurship. I love positively representing the nursing profession and recruiting for our profession. I have been featured in different nursing media/podcasts and always look for ways to collaborate.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

In the spirit of full transparency, nursing issues are very complex. I will discuss a few problems from my perspective working in Canada and the USA.

Nursing retention crisis: There is a lot of talk about the nursing shortage. However, there is a more significant issue with nursing retention. Nursing organizations must make a considerable commitment to creating healthy work environments. I believe inadequate staffing is one of the most complex global issues nursing faces.

Education: Organizations need to create supportive structured orientations for novice nurses and nurses transitioning to different areas of nursing. Nurses want professional development and growth opportunities.

Leadership: Nurse leaders need leadership training like nurses transitioning into any other specialty. There needs to be more nursing leadership training. Nurse leaders need to lead with more empathy and kindness. We desperately need diverse leaders.

Racism in healthcare: There are many issues surrounding racism in healthcare that are deeply rooted in structural racism. We need more nurses to be involved in policy on a national level. The nursing profession must create strong nurse advocates that challenge the status quo. There needs to be more diversity in the nursing workforce and more grants/scholarships. We need more diverse faculty in nursing academia.

Mental health: Mental health is such an important topic in healthcare. There has been more attention and efforts to mitigate burnout. Even though I loved working in the emergency department, there came a point after 13 years that I was feeling the burnout. In my doctoral studies, I created a toolkit with stress reduction strategies for nurses. Wellness remains the number one priority for nurses.

Compensation: Nurses need to get paid more, PERIOD. Nurses need better benefits, more days off, and flexible schedules.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

My contribution to improving the complexities of these challenges is to bring awareness to them and advocate, educate, coach, and mentor them. I can make an impact by educating nurses by speaking at events, networking, and being on various nursing media. Sharing my own personal nursing journey and experiences can help the new generation of nurses.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Dr. Katie Boston Leary inspires me because she is a true leader and advocate for our profession. She is a trailblazer who is fearless in her pursuit to address issues such as racism in healthcare. She is currently the Director of Nursing Programs at the American Nurses Association.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

I want to tell Nurses that they can accomplish anything they want. Surrounding yourself with positive people and having multiple mentors is vital to success. Be a mentor and a mentee. You always have something to share, even as a nursing student.

Get involved in your community and professional nursing organizations. Networking will have a significant impact on your professional advancement. Do not be afraid to promote yourself and celebrate your accomplishments. Negotiate your salary. Learn to ask for what you want and need.

There is no right way or no one way. You do not have to do just one thing and be put in a box. Please do what YOU want to do. Do not listen to negativity. Nursing is the best profession in the world, with over 100 different roles! Nursing will open so many doors. No decision is final. Enjoy the journey and make an impact. Take care of yourself first.

Feeling Stuck? 5 Reasons Why and How to Get Out of the Rut 

Feeling Stuck? 5 Reasons Why and How to Get Out of the Rut 

Many nurses feel stuck and need help figuring out why. Alright, no worries. I can reassure you that you are not the only nurse feeling this way. Here are some reasons you may feel stuck and how to get out of that rut.

Lack of Career Advancement and Growth

You may not be experiencing growth in your current position. Or you are not getting the opportunities you want due to different circumstances.

The Fix: Keep learning and growing from a personal and professional standpoint. Seek opportunities to learn, go to conferences, return to school, or get certified in your specialty area.

The bottom line:

  1. Continue to increase your skills and knowledge.
  2. Articulate your desire to be promoted and advance in your career.
  3. Make sure you keep all your receipts and be ready to present why you deserve to be promoted.

Sitting in the corner and working hard will not automatically get you promoted. Instead, make yourself visible and highlight your accomplishments. Network with other nurses and other industries. Network in person and on social media and search for different opportunities. If all fails, then you can take your talents somewhere else.

Burnout and Exhaustion

You may not even realize that you are experiencing the negative impact of burnout.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Always feeling tired
  • Dread work
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of sleep or trouble sleeping
  • Feel overworked
  • Feel unappreciated or work has no meaning
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feeling apathetic about helping others

The Fix:

  1. Learn to say no in your personal and professional life.
  2. Ask for help and support from colleagues.
  3. Prioritize self-care activities such as sleep, exercise, rest, and eating healthy. If you take a break and return, still not feeling well, it may be time to find another position.
  4. Seek medical attention for an assessment and speak to a licensed professional regarding mental health concerns.

Limited Scope of Practice and Not Feeling Challenged 

The Fix: Nurses can feel stuck due to the limitations of their current practice. Recommend taking on a different assignment or project.

Precepting or mentoring can be a great way to reignite your passion and keep you on your toes. Seek out work that is fulfilling and aligned with your purpose and values. Consider going back to school to pursue advanced practice roles such as a nurse practitioner. You may be bored of the same thing day in and day out. Starting your own side business, such as writing, tutoring, or speaking, could add something new and exciting to your career.

Feeling Unappreciated

You may not realize it, but perhaps you feel underpaid, undervalued, and unappreciated.

The Fix:

  1. Join or start a recognition and appreciation committee within your organization.
  2. Ask for feedback from colleagues, patients, families, and the leadership team.
  3. Engage in nursing organizations that promote recognition and support for nurses.

Lack Clarity

You may not know exactly what you want, and that’s ok. However, this uncertainty may lead to you feeling stuck.

The Fix: Take the time to reflect and see what you want to do. Try to be strategic by looking at your end goal and working backward to how you will get there. Create career goals and a list of what is most important in your life this season. Determine what type of life you want to have and create your career around that lifestyle. Define what success means to you. Seek guidance from mentors and career coaches to gain clarity and develop a career advancement and success roadmap. Career coaches like me can help you get crystal clear about your priorities and your next moves.

Remember:

  • Compare yourself to only yourself
  • Do what you want, and do you
  • Be patient with yourself
  • Invest in yourself
  • Ask for help

Stop overthinking, make a decision, and take action. Part of feeling stuck is all in our heads, and this indecisiveness can lead to anxiety and, obviously, inaction. Nursing is the greatest profession in the world, with so many opportunities. Be comfortable knowing you can always redirect yourself to another path in whatever direction you take. So go ahead and take action. Get unstuck.

7 Strategies to Gain Success as a Nurse

7 Strategies to Gain Success as a Nurse

Gaining success as a nurse and landing that dream nursing position is within your reach using these seven strategies from International Nurse Coach Farah Laurent, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CPXP, NPD-BC, TCRN, CPEN, CEN.

1. Believe in Yourself & Promote Yourself

If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s hard for others to believe in you. So let’s go!

Stop those negative self-limiting beliefs. Instead, read positive affirmations daily to help you remain positive and focused. You have the knowledge, skills, and attitude to achieve anything. So, go ahead goal getter. If you believe it, then it will come, and it will manifest!

You may be shy to promote yourself, but it’s a MUST!! Whether during an interview or if you want that promotion, you better bring it. Bring that confidence. I call it “Brag & Swag.”

Follow the 3 Ps of Interviewing 

Presence

From your stylish wardrobe to your vibe, walk, and entrance!

Positioning

Position yourself for to gain success as a nurse by researching and getting ready for the interview. In the physical sense, be aware of how you sit, from your posture, to where you sit at that table.

Pitch

This is your chance to sell, sell, sell yourself, so be ready with your elevator pitch. You want the job. So, you better bring the energy and that fire!

2. Continuous Education & Growth Mindset

There is always room to grow and to improve! Nursing is a lifelong learning career.

You must keep learning, reading, and growing, whether a new nurse on the block or a veteran rock star. Seek out opportunities for growth and development. Conferences are a great way to learn, network, and learn about the latest and greatest in healthcare.

3. Positive Attitude & Gratitude

People love being around positivity, so keep it positive. Have a “can do” attitude and take the initiative.

I love to say that everything is “figureoutable.” Lead with gratitude and be thankful. Saying thank you to someone and letting them know you appreciate them truly goes a long way. Be open to opportunities because opportunities in nursing are endless. Be ready and open to receiving abundance.

4. Know Your Worth & Advocate

Know your value and worth. Do your research about the salary/wages, and be ready to articulate your value. Learn different tactics for negotiating wages/salary/perks.

Does the company have opportunities for growth and promotion? Learn how to advocate for yourself, your colleagues, and your clients.

5. Set Core Values & Goals

Do you know what your core values are? What is non-negotiable? These are key factors to gain success as a nurse.

Research the company or organization and see if your values align. Set your goals and have short-term and long-term goals. Write down your goals yearly, monthly, and weekly. Then, track your progress and keep it moving.

6. Be Kind & Practice Emotional Intelligence

Be kind. Nursing and healthcare can be stressful at times. However, you must learn how to adapt and respond. You cannot change people, but you can control how you react. Do not let others take away your joy! You are in control! You have options and choices! Exercise your Emotional Intelligence!!

7. Surround Yourself with Positive, Successful People

Lastly, positivity is contagious so surround yourself with a positive group. Seek to have multiple mentors and coaches and invest in yourself and your growth.

Remember, only stick around people who will help encourage, empower, motivate and elevate you.

The world is yours. Brag and Swag!

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