DNP in hand, nursing school grad continues her lifelong goal
Sharon Hoier knew she wanted to be a nurse when she was 3 years old and she has the photo to prove it.
What she might not have known as a medical bag-carrying preschooler was that her education as a nurse would continue throughout her career, culminating in a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) from Brandman University’s Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions.
“I promote Brandman University all the time. I tell other nurses, you’ll never regret getting more education. It broadens your scope and provides for future opportunities,” said Hoier.
Hoier began her nursing education at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, and then completed her B.S.N. at California State University, Fullerton. She completed her master’s in nursing with a clinical nurse specialist certificate from California State University, Long Beach, in part because of the tuition reimbursement and educational scholarships that were available through her employer, Hoag Hospital.
After graduate school, she thought she was done with her nursing education until one of her classmates insisted they go back for their doctorate of nursing practice and nurse practitioner certificates. At the time, Hoier didn’t think she was interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, but felt that the DNP would enable her to reach another level in nursing.
“We were already advanced practice nurses (APNs) as clinical nurse specialists, so why would we want another advanced practice certificate? Additionally, there had been some talk regarding the future requirement that APNs have a doctorate in order to be recognized as such. With a master’s degree, I could teach at the university level, but with a doctorate, I could teach at any university. I wasn’t looking at going into teaching at that point, but it was something to consider,” said Hoier, who also wanted a program that would allow her to keep working.
Hoier was working in Hoag Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) as a clinical nurse specialist and educator, teaching emergency/critical care classes, nursing orientation courses, and providing clinical support to the ED staff as part of her duties. Her doctoral research looked at issues surrounding massive transfusion protocol (Code RBC), a procedure that is required intermittently, but is extremely critical when needed. Her research results demonstrated that providing Code RBC simulation drills increased nursing confidence with the process, and she instituted the regularly scheduled Code RBC simulation drills at Hoag.
Since earning her DNP and adult-gero acute care nurse practitioner certificate (ACNP-BC), Hoier is now a nurse practitioner with Hoag Medical Group in the Urgent Care setting. She said getting her DNP further validated the experience she had already gained working in the emergency department.
“It’s clear I didn’t just graduate from college, and I think the public is becoming more savvy about nursing credentials. They know it means the nurse is dedicated to their professional practice growth and they want to provide the best possible care for their patients,” said Hoier.
Her Brandman experience, she said, was worth every dollar. It was her first time at a private rather than public institution of higher education, and she was impressed with everything from the quality of the instruction to the level of support offered by academic advisors. The combination online/weeklong immersion format allowed her to work full time and make friends from across the nation.
“I’ve talked to people from other DNP programs and they have nowhere near the support nor the supplies to work with that we did,” she said, praising in particular the quality of the simulation lab and the support of Dean Tyke Hanisch.
““I wanted to go back to school so that I would have the knowledge to provide world-class care for my patients and to be a better mentor for nurses who are new to the field. I think one of the things nurses have to remember is it’s not just about technical skills,” said Hoier. In her more than 30 years spent in the emergency department, the incident she remembers most clearly is not a dramatic life-saving moment.
“There was a woman brought in – in full arrest – and she passed away. When her daughter showed up, I took her to the room so she could be with her mother. The daughter turned to me and hugged me because no one else was there. We both cried. It reminded me again how important it is to be there in the moment and to be empathetic. That’s the difference between medicine and nursing”
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