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GEM Alumni Profile: Cristina Dovalina

Cristina Dovalina

Cristina Dovalina, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, CNL: Cristina graduated from the Direct Entry Master's Entry in Nursing (MSN) for Non-Nurses: Clinical Nurse Leader at Rush in 2011.  She then went on to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program and graduated in 2017.

Cristina is currently a Family Nurse Practitioner at Porter Physician Group.

What are your thoughts about gaining nursing experience before entering/applying for an advanced practice degree?

Gaining experience is imperative because it allows you to practice all the fundamental skills and values you learn in nursing school. It is important to apply your critical thinking and communication skills, as well as learn to make quick decisions and work with other members of the interdisciplinary team. 

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 GEM program provided me with a broad knowledge base, and allowed me to gain experience in a variety of clinical settings. This enabled me to decide which area of specialty I wanted to pursue for my advanced degree. 

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

The GEM program is structured in a way as to prepare students to be leaders in any setting they choose to work as an RN. Once you have taken the graduate core courses as a GEM student, you are in a position to move through the DNP program with more fluidity. Another benefit is you can continue to work as an RN and gain valuable experience.

Describe your favorite aspect of the GEM program.

I like the condensed structure of the GEM program, allowing students to achieve an advanced degree in a relatively short amount of time. Also, I like that Rush is a small university that provides a great support system and allows for faculty to know you by name.