Monique DNP Student

Monique De Nysschen, BSN, RN
DNP Advanced Population Health Student

“Our health care system is in great need of health care professionals in the community setting, because increasingly, patients have shorter stays in the hospital and get sent home sooner. Nurses are changing the health care system by reaching out through various settings to help all aspects of the population they serve.”

Monique was born and raised in South Africa and moved to the United States at the age of 20 to pursue a career in nursing. As a little girl, she recalled receiving a plastic stethoscope for a Christmas gift and the joy it brought her solidified her desire to become a nurse. She has a strong desire to work with vulnerable populations and to educate nurses. Her biggest goal? Teaching nurses and health care workers how to reduce and treat compassion fatigue, which will lead to increased retention rates and job satisfaction.

Why did you choose nursing as a profession?

I believe that nursing is not only a profession, but a lifestyle. Something about nursing inspires us to serve others even at the risk of our own lives. The opportunity to see a smile on someone’s face in his or her most vulnerable moment is priceless. I chose nursing because I want to serve others. If I can brighten the corner wherever I am and provide some motivation or hope to someone that is struggling, I am happy.

Tell us a little about your background and what led you to your current program of study.

I left South Africa at the age of 20. A medical career as a single woman at that time was not very promising. I came to the United States and started general health courses while working my way through school at a private institution. Since then I graduated with my associate’s degree in Massachusetts (2009), my BSN from University of Texas (2012), and I am now pursuing my DNP degree here at WSU College of Nursing. What led me to my current area of study (Doctor of Nursing Practice –Advance Population Health track) is the desire to serve others as a whole. To be able to serve not only in the acute setting, but within the community. Being able to focus on vulnerable and underserved populations and understanding the importance of health policy, epidemiology, and health promotion are things that this program focuses on, which are in line with how I want to serve others.

What are you focusing on for your DNP project and why are you passionate about it?

For my DNP project I am focusing on educating newly hired nurses about compassion fatigue and doing a pre- and post-assessment. I am excited about this because we have all reached the point where we feel our cup is empty and we are just “done.” And then what? What do we do when we feel like we have nothing more to give?  Educating new nurses about specific solutions to compassion fatigue may increase retention rates and job satisfaction.  I am so passionate about this because health care workers take care of everyone else, but many of us are horrible at taking care of ourselves. I love motivating and inspiring others, so I can see myself teaching this for the rest of my life and being excited about it. How wonderful to be able to do what you absolutely live for.

Where are you at in your program of study and what are you currently working on?

I am at the halfway mark. My expected graduation date is May 2016. Currently I am working on advanced pathophysiology, evidence-based practice, translating evidence into practice, and community analysis and grant writing. I am also on the sideline collaborating with others about my project and what is needed for it to be successful.

How will your advanced nursing degree help you to make an economic impact?

My advanced nursing degree will help me to better serve those around me. A very wise nursing professor in my ADN program once told us that furthering our education is like a camera, and every additional lens adds more depth and meaning to the pictures you take. I have never forgotten that. With an advanced degree, I will be more knowledgeable and, as I mentioned with my compassion fatigue project, it could increase job satisfaction and retention rates. Increasing retention rates and preventing health care workers from calling in sick due to fatigue will have a financial impact on the acute care setting, community setting, patients, and all those we serve.

What advice would you give to students considering obtaining their advanced nursing degree?

I would say that it is hard work and it takes an extreme amount of dedication. There is no “busy work” in obtaining an advanced degree. Every concept, every sentence, and every class matters in how you are going to be able to make a difference and serve others. It is not easy, but it is worth every minute.

How has your nursing career changed or influenced your life?

Oh my!!! When I first entered nursing, I never imagined that it would change my life and who I am as a person. I always thought I would just learn about how to take care of others. Nursing has taught me that it is also about being okay with being vulnerable at times and learning to take care of myself too. My nursing career has taught me to never give up no matter how difficult the path is, to keep my eyes focused on the goal, and to enjoy the journey. The DNP program especially has taught me to worry less, to be thankful for the here and now, and treasure every moment. It has taught me that it is okay sometimes to let my guard down and allow others to motivate or mentor me, and to not try to do it on my own. It takes a lot of teamwork to be a nurse and in the DNP program.