Susan Gordon is passionate about finding ways within the health care system to care for the influx of older adults in America. And that’s a good thing, because 20 percent of the population will be 65 years or older within the next 20 years.
With a dual nurse practitioner certification in adult acute care and gerontology, Gordon decided to enroll in UMass Lowell’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program to learn leadership skills to help her improve care, especially for older adults.
“The sky is blue for nurse practitioners,” she says. “We can provide quality care at a lower cost. We need to become entrepreneurs.”
As one of the first five students who graduated from the DNP program in May 2012, Gordon’s education has already opened doors. 
“I have a broader view of health care issues because I was in class with financial and business people and other nurses,” says Gordon, who is the nursing director of the Neuroscience Unit at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. She has introduced a national program at two hospitals to educate nurses on evidence-based care for older adults.
In the University’s DNP program, nurse practitioners can design project work based on individual interests. 
“I see the UMass Lowell’s DNP program as an opportunity to pursue your passion,” she says. “It’s not a cookie cutter program. In most classes, I was able to do research or projects on subjects that interested me, and that I could apply to my job today.”
And Gordon did just that. For her leadership class, she designed a restraint-free environment on a neuroscience floor and implemented it in her unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. 
“The UMass Lowell DNP program has raised the bar. I am nothing but satisfied.”
Gordon’s abstract on the restraint-free project was accepted for the 2012 National Gerontological Nurses Association (NGNA) conference in Baltimore. She is one of four national finalists for the Innovations in Practice Award by NGNA.