For as long as she can remember, Bonnie Proulx wanted to work in pediatrics.
The Pennsylvania native earned the BSN at St. Anselm College and the MSN, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, from Boston College. Her first job was as a pediatric urology nurse practitioner at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, an academic health system in New Hampshire that is connected to the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College and White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont. It was happiness from the start. “I love what I do,” she says. “I love taking care of kids most importantly, but I also love the science and medicine behind it.”
After a few years of a long commute, Bonnie decided to find something closer to home and landed at the University of Connecticut Health Center as a pediatric and oncology nurse practitioner, followed by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital of Boston in a similar role. In 1997, Bonnie returned to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, this time to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, she worked with well, acute and chronically ill children, addressing a range of medical and psychological issues.
A new opportunity in the children’s hospital
Bonnie’s hard work earned her recognition throughout the clinic and in 2005, she was recruited to join the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, New Hampshire’s only comprehensive, full-service children’s hospital. She works in the gastroenterology area, providing care to children with a range of diseases—from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to Crohn’s disease. “The work is very interesting and comprehensive,” she says. “Every organ in the body picks on the stomach at some point. My field sees it all, which makes for constant learning.”
Sought out as a leader
In 2008, Bonnie was selected as an Executive Leadership Ambassador for Excellence for Dartmouth-Hitchcock. She and a small group of other leaders help the organization achieve excellence by providing physician and associate provider coaching to improve patient and staff satisfaction. “That’s added an exciting element to my job and allowed me to have some balance between caring for children and helping the organization,” she says.
Eventually, Bonnie concluded that she needed further education. “A few years ago, my boss told me that if I saw myself moving into the executive office one day, an advanced degree was important,” she says. So, Bonnie started researching doctorate programs and came across the Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership. “American Sentinel had everything I wanted—the leadership and management acumen, the focus on quality work, even the research.” In 2014, Bonnie started the DNP program.
Building essential skills
Bonnie says the DNP has re-familiarized her with adult medicine and made her more well-rounded as a nurse practitioner. She has enjoyed interacting with leaders from different parts of the countries and different professional backgrounds.
Most of all, Bonnie says the DNP Executive Leadership opened her eyes to new ways to improve her own organization. “I am learning every day ways we can enhance the quality and value of the services we provide,” she says. Bonnie completed her capstone project on quality management and healthcare policy.
A solid foundation
Bonnie graduates with the DNP Executive Leadership in June 2016. “I definitely recommend this program,” she says. “I wanted to lay the foundation to take the next steps in my career, and that’s exactly what this program helped me do.” Though she’s yet ready to step away entirely from patient care, Bonnie says she hopes one day to transition into a senior leadership position at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. “I want to make our hospital the best environment possible and contribute to the improvement of how all healthcare providers do things.”
Inspired by Bonnie’s story? A DNP with a specialization in executive leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in the healthcare system. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.