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GEM Alumni Profile: Hannah Fox

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

Having two years of nursing experience before starting my advanced practice degree allowed me to gain invaluable knowledge both as a nurse and a leader. I have found that my patient care experience has given me a better understanding of the course material; it’s one thing to read about patients with schizophrenia in a textbook, but quite another to actually take care of a patient with schizophrenia. My psychiatric nursing experience also allowed me to work alongside mental health workers, social workers, therapists, nurse practitioners, and physicians. Being a part of a cohesive interdisciplinary team is pivotal to providing quality care in a complex health care system as an Advanced Practice Nurse. Also, observing what a PMHNP does on a day-to-day basis helped me make an informed decision when applying for the program.

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 emphasis on evidence-based practice and research throughout the GEM program has proven to be extremely important in the PMHNP program as well thus far. The Clinical Nurse Leader certification has also been helpful, as the leadership aspect of a DNP degree is an essential competency. Also, being familiar with the difficulty and time commitment needed for graduate level classes aided me in planning for when to return to school, and what my work schedule might look like to allow enough time to excel in the DNP program.

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

When I first started the GEM program, given I already knew that I wanted to be in mental health, I wasn’t sure how I would like the other specialties. Looking back, I am so thankful for the comprehensive knowledge I gained in the GEM program. Mental health is a part of the whole health of a person, and I believe the well-rounded nursing education I received during the GEM program has helped prepare me to take all aspects of my patients’ mental and physical health into account.

Describe your favorite aspect of the GEM program.

My favorite aspect of the GEM program was the wealth of knowledge I gained from so many wonderful clinical instructors and professors. Their support and passion for nursing was inspiring and helped shape the nurse I am today.