Doctor of Nursing Practice
"My DNP education has given me the ability to view practice and issues from a holistic perspective as well as through the more specific spheres of influence and competencies of clinical nurse specialist practice."
Even as an undergraduate nursing student at the University of Minnesota, Mary Jaeger envisioned she would attend graduate school. “I followed the advice of my undergraduate instructors and worked as a nurse for a few years to gain experience and a clearer vision of what I would want to do as a graduate student and beyond,” said Jaeger.
After obtaining her undergraduate degree, she worked as a nurse in adult surgical oncology, pediatric hematology/oncology and pediatric intensive care. “I still felt restless and in need of a challenge. I enjoyed working with children and adolescents but wanted to be able to work at a higher level of practice not only at the patient level, but within the nursing and organizational levels as well,” said Jaeger.
She decided to meet with her mentor, a professor she had as a School of Nursing undergraduate student, who suggested to Jaeger it was time to go back to school. “I told her I was leery about going for my master’s degree because I wasn’t interested in the hard-core research side of things. I wanted to take the research that was already out there and use it to influence practice,” said Jaeger. Her mentor then recommended the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. “It was exactly what I was looking for in a graduate program,” said Jaeger.
Jaeger chose the pediatric clinical nurse specialist specialty area because she was interested in educating patients, families and nurses, as well as providing direct care at an advanced practice level. “I had worked with clinical nurse specialists and I noticed the range of specialties and function at the patient/family, nursing and organizational levels, which increased the appeal,” said Jaeger.
As a DNP student, Jaeger created a publicly accessible online educational presentation for parents with children with cancer to help them administer oral medications. “When working as a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse, I watched parents and their children with cancer struggle with giving and taking oral medications,” said Jaeger, about why she chose the topic. The content was structured around a theoretical model for oral medication administration and included narrated slides, video interviews of parents and oncology staff, and technique demonstrations by children with cancer.
After graduating, Jaeger interviewed and received offers for advanced practice nursing positions at two different organizations, and she ultimately decided to accept a position at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. There, she will have the opportunity to continue working with two of her clinical instructors on the Skin Integrity Team. She provides inpatient and outpatient care on both the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses. The position also involves assisting in education, research, and policy and procedure development surrounding skin, wound and ostomy care.
Jaeger said she feels prepared for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. “My DNP education has given me the ability to view practice and issues from a holistic perspective as well as through the more specific spheres of influence and competencies of clinical nurse specialist practice. I am also able to discuss patient care, practice and nursing at a higher level and with greater understanding than before,” said Jaeger.