Melissa Cheeks

DNP Student
Melissa Cheeks

I can’t remember a time when I did not want to be in healthcare. However, getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disease as a child solidified my desire for a nursing career. For several years, I required hospitalization every six months in a pediatric convalescent hospital. Even as a young child, I was cognizant of the impact those bedside nurses had on healing and well-being. I knew I wanted to impact patients’ lives like they did.

One nurse stands out in my memory. She cared deeply and consistently demonstrated holistic care. Despite her patient load, she found time to entertain us by playing games or dress-up, and was generous with her hugs. She successfully diverted our thoughts away from our pain and the limitations our illnesses placed on us. We trusted her and thrived emotionally in her care.    

After leaving clinical practice and transitioning to the medical device and diagnostic industry several years ago, I decided to pursue the DNP in Executive Leadership. I really want to understand the challenges nurse executives face today in our rapidly changing health care environment. Additionally, I want to start teaching, so I decided to add the certificate in nurse education.    

I chose DUSON for both my MSN and DNP based on the school’s reputation, ranking, and outstanding faculty. Additionally, the incredible opportunity to network with exceptional student colleagues factored heavily in my decision.

There are several experiences that are already shaping me both as a nurse and a person. First, the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by a world-class faculty has significantly improved my critical thinking among other skills. For example, my advisor, Dr. Barbara Turner, is a phenomenal mentor and I learn something from her every time we talk that impacts my current and future work. Secondly, the N962 course, Transforming the Nation’s Health, has left an indelible mark professionally and personally. I entered the course with no policy experience, and honestly wasn’t strongly interested. However, I left the course empowered and engaged and actively looking for opportunities to affect policy change.       

I plan to begin teaching once I graduate, and hope to maintain consulting relationships with one or two of my industry clients for occasional small projects. DUSON’s rigorous curriculum and the expertise of the faculty is providing excellent preparation for my plans. The school’s reputation is already opening additional doors. Three local schools of nursing have expressed an interest in having me join their faculty once I graduate, and the Dean of one of the three has asked me to join their advisory board starting in 2020. DUSON is preparing me well for board membership.       

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