Donna Kang, DNP ’21

donna kang

Hometown: Memphis, TN
Undergraduate Major: BSN
Graduate: Doctor of Nursing Practice

I never thought I would be where I am now. After graduating from nursing school at Emory University, I was certain I was done with school forever. Yet, here I am 10 years later about to graduate with a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. 

I was a medical surgical registered nurse (RN), travel RN, and transplant clinical research RN before I realized there were more things I needed to learn in order to do what I was passionate about. As a nurse, I wanted to be the innovative problem-solver and create better systems and processes. I wanted to address the barriers, inefficiencies, and wastes to optimize nursing practice and improve patient outcomes. During the past seven years I practiced as an RN, I gained the experience and the confidence I needed to take the next step to becoming a CNS. 

After applying and getting accepted to SPU’s DNP program, I packed all that I owned into my car and drove from Atlanta, Georgia, to Seattle. On the first day of class, I remember feeling so sure that I was in the right place. It all had to do with the faculty and the open learning environment they cultivate. The small class size is an invaluable aspect of the program, and I gained so much through the relationships developed with my professors and faculty. They are personable, approachable, and go above and beyond for their students simply because that is the kind of people they are. They genuinely care about their students’ personal lives and professional developments. 

As a member of the second cohort of the DNP program and the only CNS student of my class, I particularly enjoyed my experience of being part of a new and developing program. I received focused support in my CNS course and seminars from faculty members and particularly Dr. Melissa Hutchinson, who has been an impactful and encouraging presence during my time at SPU. She brought a refreshingly collaborative approach to teaching and mentorship with unwavering support that shaped me into the kind of CNS I want to be.

An unexpected benefit from my CNS educational journey has been my transformation into a leader. The opportunities I have had to practice leadership came in many forms, from preparing and giving countless presentations, to churning out long scholarly papers, and conducting a quality improvement project for emergency department providers during a global pandemic. My DNP scholarly project has given me the opportunity to present a poster for the national annual CNS conference, and I am close to publishing my first manuscript for the Clinical Nurse Specialist journal. My journey through graduate school has shaped me, equipped me, and given me the confidence to be a leader wherever I go.

The School of Health Sciences faculty and administration has been extremely supportive in making sure I complete the program, as I had major life changes during my final two quarters of the program and moved to South Korea. They collaborated with me to secure a site at a U.S. Army base hospital in South Korea so that I could complete my DNP immersion practicum. This and the ways they seamlessly adjusted all courses to online learning formats during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the program’s strengths for me. The faculty’s ability to adapt to changes, respond to emerging needs, and improve current processes is why SPU’s DNP program will continue to grow and succeed in shaping well-prepared, successful advanced practice nurses. 

jessica wu

Jessica Wu’s Story

“I have always felt called to work in the healthcare field, as I have a strong desireto help and serve others. Jesus commanded the disciples to go out to heal the sick and care for those in need, so I felt called to answer Jesus’ command to care for others as a nurse.”