HER: Student Pami Ellis

Health Equity Reimagined

Student Engagement

Severe Childhood Illness Led DUSON Student to Nursing Profession

Pami Ellis

Pami Ellis was 3 years old and living in the Philippines when she was hospitalized for Dengue (DENG-gay) Hemorrhagic Fever, a mosquito-borne illness that can cause life-threatening high fevers and flu-like symptoms. Her case was so severe that she had to get frequent finger pricks for blood tests.

“Instead of making me afraid of hospitals and healthcare providers, upon discharge I announced that I wanted to be a ‘poke doctor’ when I grew up,” said Ellis, who has studied at the Duke University School of Nursing. “The example of excellent, compassionate care from the Filipina nurses continues to drive me in my own practice and led me to return to the Philippines to work at a birth center.”

For eight years, Ellis was known as “Ate (AH-tay) Pami,” which means “big sister,” a family term in the Philippines that is respectful but also familiar as patients saw her as an extension of their families.

“It eliminated barriers when healthcare providers the world over are not always perceived as approachable or personable, and gave us the privilege to provide care through the intensely vulnerable and sacred moment of birth,” Ellis said.

"This experience shaped and defined the kind of nurse I aspire to be, where respect is earned not because of a title, skin color, or bank balance, but because of how I treat others, how I take the time to listen, and how I respect all humans.”

Pami Ellis

DNP Student

Ellis took those experiences with her to DUSON, where she has studied to earn a master of science in nursing as a family nurse practitioner and a doctorate of nursing practice.

While researching nursing programs around the world, Ellis was drawn to Duke University because of its reputation of nursing excellence and collaborative approach to education across academic programs. She wanted to be part of a university that emphasized and prioritized teamwork, both internally and externally with other disciplines.

“I wanted a school that would help cultivate the kind of nurse who values dignity, excellence, respect, justice and compassion from a global health perspective,” she said. “I also was looking for a school that is recognized as a leader in health with opportunities for networking and relationship building at a global level.”

Ellis finished the MSN program well prepared to take her board examination and began practicing as a nurse practitioner with multiple job offers. The flexibility of the online program allowed her to learn and gain experience in Los Angeles, rural Idaho and across the world in Tanzania. She also had the opportunity to get a certificate in Global Health through the Duke Global Health Institute.

“My experience over the last four-plus years has exceeded all my expectations. My classmates have become life-long friends and expert colleagues,” she said.

As a doctorally prepared advanced practice registered nurse, Ellis plans to continue working with the global healthcare community and empowering national leaders from vulnerable populations to better reach sustainable development goals.

“I plan to seek opportunities to learn from and equip more nurses of every culture to reach families and communities as frontline healthcare providers by strategically partnering with local and international organizations,” she said. “I wish to see nurses become leaders and champions of health and wellness so their communities thrive and escape the cycles of poverty and oppression.”

Pami Ellis is a doctorally prepared advanced practice registered nurse. She plans to work with the global healthcare community and empower national leaders from vulnerable populations.

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