Growing up in Puerto Rico, Eymie Fitzgerald always loved science and pictured herself becoming a doctor one day. However, after moving to Indiana in 1993, she was turned onto the field of nursing by a close family friend who was also a nurse. “The idea of working with patients and learning constantly was just so exciting to me,” she says. She enrolled in an Associate Degree of Nursing Program at Purdue University, graduated in 1997, and started her career in adult critical care and medical/surgical in Miami, Florida.
Teaching on her mind
As a nursing student, Eymie had a great experience with an instructor that stayed with her. “I remember how engaged and excited she was and it made me think that teaching was something I wanted to do,” she says. Soon into her career, she earned BSN and MSN degrees at Florida Atlantic University and began teaching in Keiser University’s ADN program in 2005. “I loved nursing, but I loved nursing education even more.”
After marrying and having a child, Eymie and her family moved to Tampa, where she continued to work in adult critical care. In 2009, she took a position as a critical care educator for Florida Hospital Zephrhillis. When the opportunity arose to join Rasmussen College, a private college with 22 campuses in the Midwest and Florida, Eymie jumped at it. “This is not just my passion, but a career that makes me so happy,” she says. “At Rasmussen, I’m involved in curriculum development, writing courses, and of course, teaching. I love witnessing and facilitating those ‘light bulb’ moments for students.” To stay current, Eymie continues to work at the bedside, working one 12-hour shift per week in adult critical care at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.
Beginning her DNP journey
A few years into her career at Rasmussen, Eymie decided to pursue a doctorate. “I knew that my career long term was going to be working in education and for that I would need a doctorate,” she says. A colleague was enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership at American Sentinel University and Eymie was intrigued. “We were at a conference together and he told me all about it, and when I got home, I looked up the university. The program looked perfect for my area of focus and goals.” Within a month—August 2015—she was enrolled and even convinced a friend and fellow professor, Lynn Lanseadel, to join her in her pursuit.
Rising to the top
Eymie says that her course work has changed the way she sees things at Rasmussen. “I’ve really grown a lot in a lot of areas,” she says. “I’m a better writer and I grow with each class I take. There’s also so much that we’re doing that is directly applicable to the things I’ve been studying in my program.” A respected leader at Rasmussen, when the deanship position of the Tampa campus came open, Eymie was encouraged to throw her name into the hat. In March 2017, she was appointed to the position.
Her experience and leadership at Rasmussen made her the best candidate for the job, but Eymie’s educational pursuits solidified her application. “I did the DNP because I wanted to benefit my career long term,” she says. With Rasmussen launching a new MSN program and pursuing accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Eymie is excited to dive into the job and apply her leadership skills and education. “I see this position as an extension of my education. Now I’m helping create great leaders and supporting others to become the best instructors they can be.”
Inspired by Eymie’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. 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.