HER: Student Gabrielle Choi

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Student Engagement

Health Crises Abroad Inspired DUSON Student to Become Nurse

Gabrielle Choi

Gabrielle Choi was teaching English abroad in South Korea when she saw firsthand the emotional and psychological challenges people face during health crises. Her time in the country, from 2014 to 2015, was marked by international health concerns that foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. The experience stuck with her and inspired her to become a nurse.

Now a student at the Duke University School of Nursing, she is working to earn a doctorate of nursing practice as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner. She also has bachelors’ degrees in registered nursing and philosophy – a combination that she believes will help her treat future patients.

“I was always curious about ‘why’ people think the way they do, and ultimately, I realized that my interest in philosophy was rooted in a desire for meaningful connection and understanding between people,” Choi said. “I think this is also the goal of psychiatric nursing.”

After witnessing health crises in South Korea, Choi watched as the COVID-19 pandemic overtook the U.S. Using her experience in nursing and philosophy, she was able to provide compassionate care, support and healing to those in need, especially during their most vulnerable moments.

"This experience has reinforced my belief in the crucial role psychiatric nursing plays in promoting mental health and well-being in challenging times.”

Gabrielle Choi

BSN-DNP Student

Choi enrolled at DUSON in 2020 and plans to graduate in 2024. She is proud to be part of Duke’s pilot program of the BSN-DNP (bachelor of science in nursing-doctor of nursing practice) track.

“I chose DUSON because I was determined to receive training from the best. Duke's nursing program is renowned for its excellence and proven track record in producing top-tier healthcare professionals,” she said. “I was seeking a program that could offer me the best possible education and support, and Duke was the clear choice.”

The university has not only helped Choi academically – it has also supported her as she welcomed her second daughter a few months into her schooling. Almost three years later, she is now due with her third child in her final semester.

“Balancing motherhood with graduate school is not easy, but I am a proud mother and a determined student,” she said. “Duke has been incredibly supportive and accommodating, such as providing a nursing room during on- campus visits, for which I am immensely grateful.”

As she prepares to conclude her Duke experience, Choi says she is filled with a sense of accomplishment. She has served as a teaching assistant for a grant- funded “Stress First Aid” project at DUSON, presented a poster on her DNP project at an international conference and she hopes to see a published manuscript under her name.

After graduation, she plans to fulfill her commitment as an HRSA Nurse Corps Scholar by working at a federally qualified health center, with a focus on community mental health, for at least three years. That experience will allow her to serve underserved communities and gain valuable clinical experience.

In the long-term, Choi plans to continue her clinical practice and enhance her expertise as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner. She has been teaching psychiatric nursing at the undergraduate level and hopes to teach at the graduate level.

Finally, she hopes to be an advocate for legislative changes aimed at addressing the underlying causes of health concerns. That includes advocating for nurse practitioner full practice authority, supporting initiatives to reduce mental health stigma, championing universal healthcare and increasing access to care.

“My ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on the fields of nursing and mental health by combining clinical expertise, education, and legislative advocacy to drive meaningful change and improve healthcare outcomes for all”.

Gabrielle Choi is studying to earn a doctorate of nursing practice as a psychiatric- mental health nurse practitioner.

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