In her 25 years as a nurse, Erica Lue has done just about everything—from medical/surgical to the intensive care unit, from infection control to the emergency room. The Jamaican native moved to Miami, Florida, at the age of 15 and earned her associate degree in 1992 and BSN in 1993. She spent several years at Cleveland Clinic in both home health and in medical/surgical/telemetry/intensive care and made her way to Broward Health-Coral Springs Medical Center in 2005, where she discovered her niche. “I floated throughout all of the floors, but the emergency room and the ICU have long been my passion,” says Erica. “I love to help patients recover and go home.”
A move into nurse education
Along the way, Erica decided to move into nursing education. “I had been rolling out electronic documentation as a super user preceptor to our entire hospital at Broward Health-Coral Springs and discovered that I really liked teaching others,” she says. “It was unexpected but also pivotal for me. I knew I could make a difference as an educator to teach future nurses. That was my main motivator for making the change.”
To prepare herself, Erica decided to earn the MSN in nursing education in 2012. As soon as she finished, an opportunity came her way through a colleague in her network: to take over as the dean of nursing at Dade Medical College. “I was catapulted into the position, but I think they sensed good leadership in me,” Erica says. “It was a true blessing to get the job.” After a year, however, Erica decided her calling was teaching rather than administration. She joined the faculty of Jersey College’s School of Nursing for one year before moving to the Port St. Lucie. There, a chance meeting with a former Cleveland Clinic patient introduced her to the regional dean at the local campus of Fortis Institute, a career and technical college with campuses around the country. In fall of 2014, Erica joined the nursing program as a lead faculty member.
Ready to lead
After two years at Fortis, Erica was encouraged to earn a terminal degree. A colleague referred her to American Sentinel University, and the Doctor of Nursing Educational Leadership was the perfect fit. “I’ve always been one who believes in lifelong education, and with nursing changing all the time, it’s a good idea to stay up to date,” says Erica. “When I wrote my statement about why I wanted to pursue the program, I talked about giving back to the next generation of nurses. Pursuing this DNP isn’t about making myself better. It’s about helping them become the best nurses possible.”
So far, Erica has learned more than she ever expected. Her capstone project is centered on concept-based learning and improving student outcomes. Already she has seen a positive change in the classes she teaches. “There are lots of connections between what I’m researching for American Sentinel and what I’m teaching to our students,” she says. “The students are thriving, and the changes I’ve implemented in the classroom are proving to have a direct impact. The DNP has definitely strengthened me as an educator.”
Big strides toward big goals
Since 2016, Erica has served as faculty chair—a role she loves. One day, she hopes to become a provost. “I’ve discovered that I’m a good leader and I think I could do a great job creating a level of cohesiveness among my faculty,” she says. The DNP Educational Leadership, Erica adds, will help her take her next steps. “This degree was absolutely worth it. I want to keep making an impact in whatever I do, and now I feel better equipped to accomplish that.”
Inspired by Erica’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.