Nursing & Health

Six things the Disney movie “Tangled” taught me about being a nurse practitioner

And you thought achieving the doctoral degree was the hard part.

Dr. James Morgan
James Morgan DNP, AGACNP-BC, Brandman alum and faculty member is inspired by the chameleon from the Disney movie, "Tangled.

But now that you have those three great letters – DNP - to add to your signature, the real work begins.

And while the story of a long-golden-haired girl, kind-hearted troublemaker and frisky lizard may not seem like the logical source of inspiration, the Disney animated movie “Tangled” can help any Doctor of Nursing Practice - any healthcare provider - be their best self for their patients, and themselves. 

 The key: PASCAL. (Yes, the pet chameleon!)

Provider of Care

Might seem obvious – a nurse takes care of others. But nurses: you need to take care of yourself! Pay attention to your well-being. Your nutrition, recreation, rest, sleep, regular exercise, praying, meditating and whatever else you need to do to optimize your good health.

Learn to prioritize your life. Entrepreneur Derek Sivers says, “If it’s not a ‘hell yes,’ it’s a ‘hell no.” Meaning, if you are making your list of priorities and something comes up that doesn’t fall in line with those priorities, meaning your answer isn’t a “hell yes,” then the answer should always be, “hell no.” Don’t let “busy work” bog you down and take over your priorities.

Attitude About Learning

When I was working on my undergraduate degree, my mentor Dr. Polly Moore asked me if I had thought about going after the DNP degree.

A DNP degree?

Are you kidding me?

Working on my bachelor’s was hard enough, and I told her and myself ‘I’ll never go back to school!”

Well a few short years later, I found myself at Brandman University, many times asking myself “What in the world did I get myself into?”

Soon learning becomes a habit. At that point, your desire to learn makes getting A's easier while taking the focus off of grades.

You can only broaden and strengthen your practice and leadership by continuing your education. That is the surest way to ensure best evidence-based practice. It is the surest way to be a confident, reliable, respectable and effective leader. So, make time to read journals and books, listen to the news, go to conferences, get a post-doctorate certificate. You will better your career prospects, broaden your horizon, and be respected as a leader within and outside of the nursing profession.

Search for Wisdom

Be in the present. It’s not about being perfect, but it's about the intentionality of what you're doing. It's about being forgiving with yourself, about being gentle with yourself and others.

Some people get old and wise, and some people just get old. Every stage of life there is a capacity for wisdom. There is something very special about someone who has lived a long time and what they've experienced and integrated into their wholeness.

The wisdom of children can be uncanny. They say things and ask things that drive to the heart of the matter.

Teens and those in their 20’s can have a vision to see the world as a whole with fierceness and urgency.

The measure of wisdom is the imprint a life makes on other lives and the world around it. For a wise person, it's almost palpable.

Doesn’t that also sound like our objectives as a profession?


There must be fulfillment in what you do; this leads to contentment.

This is what Maslow was referring to when you are on your way to self-actualization. Have that perspective of enjoyment. Look at how far you came to get your doctorate! The obstacles you overcame, the peaks and valleys, triumphs and sacrifices; you did it! Remember that as you face your future challenges.

You accomplished your DNP degree dammit, and you can accomplish anything!

Always be purposeful

Feel and find your purpose. Be purposeful when looking for a job or negotiating your contract. Be purposeful when you are on your way to work and when working with your patients.

We all have a unique story that brought us into this profession and brought us this far. Own your story. Your story is the foundation of your purpose.


There is no one exclusive way to becoming a transformational leader.

Begin by finding yourself a mentor in the profession.  Research studies have shown that, on the average, individuals who have been mentored have increased job satisfaction, higher salaries, enhanced self-esteem, increased confidence, greater opportunities for promotion and advancement, enhanced role socialization, and a definitive career plan.

Find a mentor who encourages, nurtures, instructs and inspires. Once you become a transformational leader, be prepared to give back to mentor others coming behind you.

Becoming a leader means developing a high self-esteem for yourself. Not arrogant or cocky. You’re not perfect; no one is.

Rather, have a high regard for yourself through the development of authentic capacity, performance, and competency. Nurture your potentials and believe in yourself.

Know your worth.

Just as much as you should believe in yourself, believe in your followers. Encourage them, empower them and instill possibilities for them.

Leadership also means learning to solve problems. If you can learn to think about the world in a new way, you can create so much new value and can be limitless in advancing your career.

No mountain has ever been climbed just by looking at it. Make your goals, take along your pal PASCAL, and ascend up that mountain to achieve them. 

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