Growing up, David Byres couldn’t help but be influenced by his grandmother, a Registered Nurse and one of the founders of the nursing program at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) in British Columbia, Canada. “She was one of the people who worked diligently to advocate for nursing education,” David recalls. Although he started his education at CNC in accounting, it didn’t take long for him to switch gears to healthcare. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology before getting his diploma in nursing from CNC. David worked in general medicine and then psychiatry for several years and pursued nursing education thereafter, earning a BSN at the University of British Columbia.
A foundation in psychiatric nursing
David gained clinical experience in mental health at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia and then at St. Paul’s Hospital and Mental Health Emergency Services in Vancouver, BC. In 2001, he returned to St. Paul’s parent organization, Providence Health Care, which specializes in heart/lung, kidney/renal, HIV/AIDS, medical/surgical, urban health, mental health and addictions, seniors and other services. There, David has served in many capacities, including director of the mental health program, director of nursing practice, chief of professional practice and nursing, vice president of acute clinical programs, and most recently, executive vice president of clinical integration and renewal. Along the way, he earned the MSN from the University of British Columbia (2006).
Sights set on the terminal degree
For years, David had contemplated pursuing a terminal degree in nursing, debating the Ph.D. and the DNP. He learned about American Sentinel University several years before making his decision. “With my career focusing on leadership, health policy, strategic planning and the science of implementing change, the structure and course content of the DNP Executive Leadership combined with the capstone research element seemed a perfect fit,” he says. “The DNP program’s accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing was important to me as well.”
David started the DNP in 2014. A highlight of his experience was the level of support he received from professors, advisors and his fellow DNP students. “It was just fantastic,” he says. “I learned a lot. Being Canadian, I applied my learnings to my own work context in a totally different health system. I have much deeper knowledge in a number of areas and a greater ability to bring more rigor to my role.”
A new opportunity to impact the future of nursing
In the spring of 2016, David was approached by the associate deputy minister of British Columbia’s Ministry of Health about a new position: chief nursing advisor. Unbeknownst to him, his name had been brought up by various nursing leaders throughout the province. “The government was interested in optimizing the role of nurses across the province and determining how to better serve patients and meet Ministry objectives,” David says. “In addition, they want recommendations on how to integrate the expert voice of nursing into the work the ministry does and into health policy.” In June 2016, David accepted an 18-month secondment to join the Ministry.
In his new position, David will lead a province-wide dialogue with nurses in practice on the implications of the Ministry’s strategic priorities for nurses, including the emerging changes within hospital settings and the strategic shift from acute to primary and community care. “It’s a wonderful new position with tremendous opportunity for nursing in the province,” he says.
Officially a DNP graduate
In October 2016, David finished the DNP Executive Leadership. The educational foundation, he says, will help him as he collaborates with nurses across the province in shaping their future. “I think that some of my leadership experience and knowledge of the healthcare system in British Columbia helped me get appointed to this new role with the Ministry,” he says. “I do believe that the education I’ve received in areas like business intelligence, health policy and strategic planning will help me immensely as I go forward.”
As for what the future holds, David is excited about the challenge. “I enjoy a new challenge and pushing myself,” he says. “I’m not sure where I’ll go from here, but I’m excited about this role and making a greater impact on healthcare in the province.”
Inspired by David’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.