Kimberly Clark

Q&A: My journey towards achieving my Doctor of Nursing Practice

What prompted you to go back to school for your Doctor of Nursing Practice?

When I embarked on this academic venture, my intent was to enhance my own learning and experiences and to achieve the highest level of education for nursing practice in order to effectively lead system level change to improve health outcomes. In addition, I had a strong desire to achieve the personal goal of self-fulfillment of completing a terminal degree, new job opportunities and the desire to effect change within the health care system. By learning more about evidence-based practice, technology, leadership, policy, and health care systems, I have a deeper commitment to patients, colleagues and the nursing profession.

How will this degree benefit you in your current role at Texas Children’s?

As Patient Care Manager in the Cancer and Hematology Center, the DNP degree will help me be a stronger leader and promote both scholarship and evidence based practice to improve health outcomes. The DNP program has prepared me to be an expert leader where I will be able to bring evidence based knowledge into practice, improve health care outcomes and guide in complex care delivery. I am confidently prepared to lead health care innovation and influence change.

How would you describe your DNP journey?

One of the biggest challenges that I faced was balancing the demands of school, work and personal life. I had to learn to say no to some things, but I also had to learn how to effectively manage my time so that I had dedicated family and personal time. Although school requirements kept me busy and the program was overwhelming at times, it was still manageable. My leader and colleagues were very supportive.

As a wife, mother of five children, and primary caregiver for my elderly mother, I definitely had some challenging days. I had to find the perfect balance between work, school, family, and personal time. I found that writing things down in a planner book was the most helpful tool to keep me on track with everything. My support system was very strong at home, church and in my community. It definitely took a village. I also leaned heavily on my faith and prayer. Through it all, with God’s grace and mercy, I persevered all of the challenges that I faced and completed my task.

Describe what it was like embarking on this journey with your Texas Children’s colleagues.

When I enrolled in the program, I was not aware at the time that so many of my Texas Children’s family members would be joining me. It has been such a rewarding experience to embark on this journey together. We definitely had a strong representation in the program, and brought a wealth of knowledge and experience. We were affectionately called “The TCH Group” by our professors and peers.

We worked on amazing DNP projects that have made a huge impact on the care and outcomes for our patients at Texas Children’s and other areas. The projects represented the culmination of our doctoral studies and the translation of knowledge into practice. This was a journey that we started and finished together, which made it extra special. We supported and encouraged each other every step of the way.

Describe the emotions on graduation day when you officially received your DNP degree.

I was overwhelmed with a plethora of emotions. After all of the long hours of studying, countless sleepless nights, challenges, obstacles, and successes, the feeling was surreal. The anticipation leading up to the actual moment that I walked across the stage was the strongest feeling. The anticipation and anxiousness finally turned into overwhelming excitement. This was such a proud moment in my life, and I was thrilled to be able to share it with my family and friends.

Texas Children’s offers opportunities for professional development and advancement for nurses. How did Texas Children’s support you?

Texas Children’s offers many opportunities for professional development and advancement. For those who are considering to advance their education, I would strongly suggest that you set forth to achieve your goals and consider making a commitment to constantly improving your skill set through lifelong learning.