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GEM Alumni Profile: Allie Sontag

Allie Sontag

Allie Sontag, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CNL: Allie graduated from the Direct Entry Master's Entry in Nursing (MSN) for Non-Nurses: Clinical Nurse Leader program at Rush in 2013.  She then went on to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program and graduated in 2017.

Allie is currently a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) in the Chicago Public Schools.

While I knew that I wanted to be an FNP from before I applied to nursing school, but I come from a family of doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who strongly suggested that I become nurse first. Looking back I couldn't be happier with my choice.  I talk to other NP students who go directly though and I see them as having a significant disadvantage because they don't understand that complexities of bedside patient care.  They haven't celebrated a patient's joy nor have they empathized with their sorrow. It is not a skill that can be taught but only experienced, and being a nurse gives you that insight that you would not otherwise have. 

What were important elements in your GEM program that you believe prepare you to succeed at a high level in an advanced practice program?

The graduate level preparation in epidemiology, research and leadership allowed me more easily more through the courses and create a DNP project.  Additionally, having been a GEM, I felt that the graduate program was easier to navigate through and I am currently able to take my courses online while working as a night nurse.

What are your thoughts about the GEM to DNP structure, that is, a strong generalist master's foundation progressing to a specialty doctoral focus?

Because I getting my degree in family practice, it is vital that I had a strong foundation to build from. Additionally, having the generalist experience also allowed me to be exposed to a wide range of patient types, acuities and specialties, which let me me best choose what field to go into as an RN.

Describe your favorite aspect of the GEM program.

My favorite aspect of the program was the how we got into clinical from day one. Simply talking to patient and helping with basic activities of daily living is the foundation for everything else we learn.  Getting practice from day one is vital to mastering the art portion of nursing.