Marilyn Akyea

DNP Student
Marilyn Akyea

I was inspired by my mother to be a nurse. While growing up in Ghana, I saw her dressed up in her white uniform and going to work as an operating room nurse at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana’s leading and biggest hospital. She proudly mastered that role until her retirement as the departmental head 10 years ago. She was highly regarded by her work colleagues for her knowledge, expertise, and leadership. She was the go-to person in our neighborhood for health questions or issues. Those qualities and her ability to provide help to the needy inspired me to be a nurse.

As a registered nurse back home in Ghana, I had no idea nursing had a world of its own with so many opportunities before I immigrated to America. Fortunately, I secured my dream job as a cardiothoracic nurse at Duke University Hospital in Durham after settling in America. While on the job, I found myself surrounded by many brilliant and extraordinary Advanced Nurse Practitioners. The majority of them were DUSON alumni. Their daily bedside impact in the lives of patients and their families, the career paths of registered nurses/certified nurse assistants and the various leadership roles they played inspired me to become a provider.

I was fully equipped to become an Adult Gerontology Primary Care Practitioner, considering the exposure gained after 14 years of bedside nursing. However, I wanted to be in a position to provide more preventive services rather than curative services after taking care of cardiothoracic patients for more than a decade. DUSON’s AGNP program continues to rank number one in the country, so I knew I would get the best education and experience necessary to prepare me as a primary care provider in the future. Additionally, I have had the unique opportunity of experiencing first-hand the work of many DUSON alumni.

Once in the program, I got to know that DUSON is one of the 18 nursing schools nationwide selected for the elite Veteran Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership (VANAP) program, a partnership between the schools and the U. S Department of Veterans Affairs. The program provides Veteran-centered care training. The opportunity offered by DUSON to be trained as a VA provider and really take care of veterans has been of great help to me.

During my MSN program, I gained clinical experience caring for American Veterans in various VA facilities in NC as part of the VANAP program. The training gave me the much-needed confidence to build professional relationships with veterans and their families as well as equipping me to care for their needs. This exposed me to many health-related issues of our veterans, such as poor oral health (which has inspired my current DNP capstone project). DUSON is a great school, and the training I have received online, during on-campus intensives, group discussions and presentations has all prepared me well to complete my DNP education. I hope to continue to provide my services to the veteran population after I finish my DNP program in August 2020.

My journey at DUSON has been filled with nothing but great experiences, and much credit goes to faculty members. “Life surely happens” (a popular phrase that has stayed with me). They are always right there to help alleviate anxiety and help students sail through smoothly. At the beginning of my third semester in the DNP program, my laptop computer stopped functioning when I spilled coffee on it. It was a very difficult time because I had no immediate solution. I told my DNP chair, Dr. Brigit Carter, the following morning. I was amazed at how quickly she jumped on board to find me a laptop computer for temporary use. She went to the DUSON IT help desk and loaned a computer for the duration I needed one. That experience helped me to relax and go through the semester successfully. DUSON is not only a great school, but also a family with faculty and staff who genuinely care for students' success.

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