DNP Nursing Student Connects with DUSON with Passion for Patient Care

DNP Nursing Student Connects with DUSON with Passion for Patient Care

Kaajal Patel, Duke School of Nursing (DUSON) DNP Nurse Anesthesia Program student, said she initially wanted to become a nurse when she was shadowing a hematologist-oncologist, and the oncology nurses blew her away.


“They were extremely compassionate, hardworking, and trustworthy, while interacting fully with each patient and making their patients feel safe and taken care of,” Patel said.  “I knew I wanted to make people feel that way, so becoming a nurse was the right fit for me.”

 When Patel decided on nursing, she explored all of her options for continued education. Patel said she was completely awe-struck by the multifaceted roles of nurse anesthetists, as well as the intelligence, confidence, and composure exuded by all of the CRNAs that she encountered.

“What pleasantly surprised me was the nature of anesthesia practice as a delicate blend of science and art. In addition to the expected patient information, physiological actions, and pharmacological interactions that need to be considered, there is a creative aspect in providing appropriate anesthesia induction, maintenance, and emergence,” Patel said. “This creates a unique approach to each patient, where a CRNA must rely on multiple concurrent factors.”

Patel notes that anesthesia is not a “one size fits all” practice. She said she also appreciates that as a CRNA she would be able to focus wholly on one patient at a time, and really get to hone in on every aspect of that individual, to help that person feel more at ease in such a vulnerable moment. 

“It is truly an honour to continue to be that face of hope and comfort, which drew me so much to nursing in the first place.”

She said she chose DUSON because the school’s emphasis on diversity aligns with her background and is reflected in the way they train future nurses in patient care. Throughout Patel’s life, she has felt a personal sense of global citizenship; her ancestors hail from India, her parents were born in East Africa, and she was born and grew up in England. 

“I have lived in America for half of my life. I knew that it would be beneficial to be in classes and the clinical setting with so many different ethnicities, cultures, and perspectives around me, and that learning among diversity would make me a more well-rounded anesthesia provider,” Patel said.  “DUSON’s commitment to social justice and values of integrity, respect, and innovation mirror my own, and have provided me with a sense of belonging within its community.”

When it comes to the “Duke experience,” Patel said it has been transformative thus far. “I have been surrounded by a community of passionate individuals who inspire me to strive for excellence,” Patel said. She mentions the supportive network of teachers, faculty members, and fellow students has provided her with invaluable guidance and mentorship. 

Overall, the Duke experience has been an incredible journey of intellectual and personal growth for Patel, and she is grateful for her scholastic career at Duke.  

Following Patel’s education, she wants to practice as a nurse anesthetist at a large Level 1 trauma hospital, while continuing to sharpen her skills and encounter diverse challenges. “Long-term, I strive to contribute to the evolving field by engaging in continued quality improvement practices, leadership, teaching, and global outreach,” Patel said.  “I aspire to provide care for diverse patient populations within low-resource healthcare systems throughout the world.” 

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