Valerie King wears two hats at UMass Lowell – she's a nursing faculty member and a student in the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program.
With 13 years of experience as a certified family nurse practitioner and five years teaching students in academia, why did King decide to go back to school and earn yet another degree?
"I want to teach others to be top-notch clinicians," she says. "I've always been a leader in the primary care practice where I work but now that I have a broader view of health care through what I've learned in the DNP program, I can make a greater contribution to solving the primary care crisis and use my knowledge to address other healthcare delivery challenges in primary care."
That crisis stems from too few physicians choosing primary care as a specialty topped by Massachusetts health care reform. While the good news is that more people have health care insurance, the bad news is that many patients are having trouble find primary care doctors. It's people like King who will make care more accessible, especially in underserved areas, by broadening the reach of nurse practitioners in the health care delivery process.
"Nurse practitioners (NPs) are in a great position to fill the primary care gap," says King who will be one of the first five to graduate from the UMass Lowell DNP program in May 2012. "We provide cost effective care with excellent outcomes and can play a larger role in delivering care solutions for diverse populations."
Students in UMass Lowell's DNP program understand a broad range of health care challenges – from financing, quality improvement, management and leadership to evidence-based practices and engaging a diverse and growing patient population. This multi-disciplinary coursework generates leaders who can help solve the health care needs of a growing, aging and diverse population.
King encourages other nurse practitioners to consider the DNP program to help them become a better clinician, advocate and leader.
"The beauty of the UMass Lowell DNP program is that the projects and research assignments can be customized to what interests you," says King. "Just take a look at the courses and you'll see the flexibility of what you can learn to apply to your work today.
Return to DNP program page.