My Final Blog… The Reward and Challenge
It has been a month since I marched the stage with the inaugural batch for Regis’ DNP Program as we were conferred the distinguished Doctor of Nursing Practice degree on May 5, 2012 at the Boettcher Commons in the Lowell Campus. Classmates from different corners of the country came to celebrate an important milestone in our professional and personal lives. But before the Commencement Ceremony, a luncheon reception was held where we, the students finally got to meet and mingle with the nursing faculties, our capstone chairs, and each other. It was a memorable occasion that affirmed the bonds we have formed throughout the five semesters of the program. That day, we had the honor of receiving a sash with the embroidered statement “Doctor of Nursing Practice, Inaugural Batch 2012.” After we picked up our gowns and regalia, we had a class pictorial. In spite of our beat-up brains and tired bodies, we had the widest smiles on our faces that clearly said, “Yes, we did it!”
The afternoon of May 4, 2012, a Convocation Ceremony was held at the Ranger Dome when DNP candidates received the hoods from capstone chairs together with Doctor of Physical Therapy candidates. Still can’t believe this moment was real. I and a few other classmates had to pinch ourselves to believe that the moment was indeed real. On the morning of May 5, 2012, people started to trickle in at the Boettcher Commons. Under the clear blue sky, a few white clouds, and the heat of the Colorado morning sun, the stage and thousands of chairs were set for graduate candidates and guests to settle in as we awaited for the final moment. I knew it was going to be a hot day, but I didn’t mind. I wanted to savor every moment of it as I recollected and reflected on my DNP journey, which I refer to as a race. As I sat waiting for the ceremony to start, scenes began flashing quickly in my mind from the start of the program to that moment and I can’t help but utter silent words of gratitude to God who has been my strength and fortress. It was a surreal moment that we will never forget.
The ceremony was long, the heat was intense… as candidates from different programs talked about their journeys, I realized all the more I was never alone in my struggles of sleepless nights, anxiety, confusion, meeting deadlines, and overdosing with caffeine to complete weekly assignments/discussions, research, and seemingly endless writings. But after receiving our diplomas and our solo pictures taken, reality sank in and I could not help but once again run through my to-do list. My family and I flew back to Texas and right away, I got back completing my final paper for grading and for publishing. At the same time, I had to start working on the blood stream infection prevention project I began at work; prepare to present findings of my study to the health center; and begin working on the promotion requirements at work. Once again, I find myself going through the DNP Project Process by Zaccagnini and White (2011)… and I thought I’ll be able to clear out my desk after graduation.
My mind, body, and spirit are crying out for a BREAK. As a full time student, mother of three boys, and working at a very busy surgical unit of a teaching hospital, I can’t help but ask God if this was the price of higher education and leadership. I knew the answer, but I was waiting to hear a different answer such as, “you deserve a vacation” or “get a week of good sleep.” As if God answered me, I came across Saint Ignatius Loyola’s prayer:
O my God, teach me to be generous: to serve you as you deserve to be served; to give without counting the cost; to fight without fear of being wounded; to work without seeking rest; and to spend myself without expecting any reward, but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.
I have presented my project findings and recommendations to the internal stakeholders of Fort Bend Family Health Center where I helped implement a dietitian-led child and adolescent overweight and obesity program through my DNP Capstone Project. I am also closely working with my capstone chair for the publication of my final paper. I will also do a poster presentation of this project at the Philippine Nurses Association of America national convention in San Antonio, Texas this July, and the University of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association International homecoming in Virginia on August. I am also transitioning into a new role of RN IV that I will embark on at my institution… a role I am prepared and ready to take as a clinical expert and scholar.
I feel physically and mentally drained and exhausted, but as I pray the prayer of St. Loyola, I am inspired to work without seeking rest, knowing I am doing God’s holy will. Truly, there is no motivation worth more than to do the holy will of God, the source of all knowledge and wisdom. As I reached the pinnacle of Nursing Education, I begin a new chapter of my life as a DNP-prepared nurse. I will continue to run the race… with gratitude and thanksgiving, I will persevere and endure to the end. If we made it, so can you! So hang in there and keep your eyes focused on the prize. It’s just around the corner.