“I was 40 years old before I knew what I wanted to do,” says Diane Neu, repeating the same mantra she tells her own students at North Central Texas College. While raising her children, Diane held various part-time positions, but once her son and daughter became more independent, she decided to go back to school. Her husband, a factory worker, had recently started working as an emergency care attendant on the side, and that got her interested in the medical field too. She went to North Central Texas College—where, fortuitously, she ended up working later on—and earned an associate degree in 2003.
Intensive care unit
Diane started her nursing career at Denton Regional Medical Center in the intensive care unit followed by time at a small community hospital. There, she gained experience “doing it all and being very prepared” because of the nature of the rural setting. She worked the floor and in the emergency room before taking a position as an assistant director of nursing at Bowie Memorial Hospital. Along the way, Diane earned the BSN at the University of Texas at Arlington followed by an MSN there in 2011.
A move into education
For several years, Diane had worked as an adjunct instructor at North Central Texas College in the LPN program. “Even as a student here, I used to think maybe one day I would return to become a teacher,” she says. The adjunct position was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up—and it didn’t take long for her to discover a passion for working with students. When a full-time opening arose, she jumped at it. In late 2015, Diane became an assistant professor for the associate degree program. “I work with first-semester nursing students and I love that they are still fresh and excited and eager to learn. It’s a great job and place.”
Good peer pressure – on for a DNP
Two of Diane’s colleagues at North Central Texas College had recently decided to pursue the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership at American Sentinel University and nudged Diane in the same direction. “I love learning and school, so it wasn’t a big stretch for me to go for it,” she says. American Sentinel’s structure was exactly the right fit. “I thought the eight-week classes were so great and I really liked the advisors.” Diane dove right in, trudging her way through statistics, only to discover she was more capable than she even thought.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the DNP Educational Leadership, Diane says, was the applicability. “I didn’t realize how much it would connect to the things I do in my job every day,” she says. Having recently built a high-fidelity patient simulation lab at North Central Texas, she appreciated being able to learn in class how students benefit from simulations. “That’s just one example of a class supporting my work. I liked building my background knowledge for what we are doing at my school to monitor students’ success in the classroom.”
Ready for whatever comes
With just three classes to go until she graduates, Diane now understands better than ever what her own students go through to juggle work and school—and says she has her family to thank for cheering her along. Her husband is now a 20-year veteran of the volunteer fire department and has been encouraging her to continue her educational pursuits. Her children, now grown, ended up following in their parents’ footsteps to healthcare careers. Diane’s daughter is a recent BSN graduate, while her son works in paramedicine and holds a master’s degree in emergency management.
Diane says that getting the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership at American Sentinel puts her in the position to succeed as times change. “We’re on the cusp of colleges changing significantly, and I don’t want to be left out,” she says. “That’s what American Sentinel is doing for me: making sure I’m current and with the times.”
Inspired by Diane’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.