Student Spotlight Corner


Rita Aguilar, MBA/HCM, BSN, RNC

Second-year Post-MS to DNP Organizational Leadership

Growing up, I always had an interest in science and a desire to help others, but I did not know anyone who was a nurse. As a middle school student, it was a principal and science teacher that took me aside and encouraged me to consider medicine or nursing as a potential profession. But it wasn't until I had my first child, that I knew that nursing would be my future profession. That positive birth experience, allowed me to see the impact that nurses have on patients' health, but also on building patients' confidence to effectively care for themselves and their families beyond discharge from the hospital. I left that hospital, knowing that I wanted to be a part of Nursing, something so much bigger than myself that allowed me to make a difference in the lives of so many. I enrolled in school shortly thereafter and became a Labor and Delivery nurse.

Fast forward thirty-one years, and here I am having had a long, and satisfying career as a nurse leader in Women's and Children's services. I have seen a lot of change over these many years, and it is so exciting to see new nurses embracing evidenced-based practice and actively engaged in quality improvement in their nursing units.

So, why then return to school for my DNP? Well, I have always been a life-long learner and wanted to learn more about nursing leadership best practices. I also greatly enjoy coaching and developing emerging nurse leaders. So, I enrolled in the Post-MS to DNP Organizational Leadership program, and I am finding that I am learning so much more than I had expected, even as an experienced nurse leader.

I am learning about the importance of nurse advocacy and the social determinants of health that negatively impact vulnerable populations. My DNP project is focused on the long term goal of increasing the diversity of Utah's nursing workforce so that it will more closely match the State's increasing racial and ethnic diversity. My hope is that diverse middle school and high school students will choose nursing as their future career choice, and as a result, help to improve the health and wellbeing of Utah's vulnerable populations.

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