Shannon Holland

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?

Throughout my career, I have interacted with many great nursing leaders that I’m very fortunate to work with at Texas Children’s. I wanted to take what I learned from them, capitalize on it, and grow my own leadership portfolio so I could do the best for myself and the best for Texas Children’s. So, it was really a desire to further my career and strengthen my leadership skill set to continue to benefit the hospital.

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

I am the Director of Nursing for Critical Care in Legacy Tower. The DNP program challenged me to be a bigger system thinker. Besides focusing on my area of responsibility, it challenged me to think about what I can do to impact our patient population across the system. The program also encouraged me to get involved with advocacy and legislation in our professional organizations and shared ways to partner with my colleagues to give nursing, our patients and their families a bigger voice in health care.

How would you describe your DNP journey?

It was definitely challenging and kept me very busy. We were always working on a paper and other assignments over the last three years. We had to do a quality improvement project and it took about two years for everyone to complete it. We each had to take something we were interested in and share that quality improvement journey before a board of faculty and to our fellow students. The great thing was Texas Children’s had already taught us so much about quality and patient safety. We went in with a very strong base knowledge on quality improvement, and so the DNP program really built on that.

What was it like embarking on this journey with your Texas Children’s colleagues?

My DNP journey was challenging and it required a lot of time management. But I will say the biggest thing that helped me get through it was teamwork and support from my colleagues enrolled in the program. When I had a hard time and struggled, they would encourage me along the way. I’d get text reminders about assignment deadlines. And then there were times someone else would be struggling and I could encourage them. So, having that group to support us through school was the biggest asset for sure.

Describe the emotions on graduation day when you received your DNP?

There were definitely a lot of emotions on graduation day. A few weeks leading up to graduation, I was checking and re-checking boxes to make sure all of my requirements for graduation were completed because we were so used to completing assignments and meeting deadlines all the time.

The fact that I completed the program didn’t feel real to me until I walked across stage donning my cap and gown and being awarded my diploma. It was like this huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt a great sense of accomplishment for being able to reach this academic milestone in my nursing career.

Texas Children’s was by far the largest group in our class – and having such a large group from Texas Children’s speaks to the organizational support and culture that makes our organization one of a kind.

Texas Children’s has many educational and professional development opportunities for nurses. How did Texas Children’s support you?

Throughout my career at Texas Children’s, I have received tremendous support in the form of internal and external educational support. We have so many internal offerings for team members at any level – Health Stream modules, classes taught by Organizational Development colleagues, lectures from internal experts, etc. The organization also supports external education by offering flexible self-scheduling for many team members and tuition reimbursement for all! We are so fortunate to work for an organization that values its people and encourages life-long learning.