Just a few months before graduating with the DNP Executive Leadership at American Sentinel University in October 2016, David Byres accepted an amazing opportunity: an 18-month secondment to join the Ministry of Health for British Columbia. His role was to lead a province-wide dialogue with nurses across the province on the implications of the Ministry’s many priorities for nurses.
Two years later, the nurse executive is carrying out the recommendations he made during that appointment. In fall 2017, David accepted a full-time position with the Ministry as assistant deputy minister and chief nurse executive. “We’re focused on creating primary care networks in British Columbia that gives people access to the services they need,” he says. “Navigating through primary care should not be as complex as it often can be, so our goal is to make sure it is not.”
Three main goals
David’s office oversees the professional regulation of the various practices within healthcare, leads efforts to focus on education recruitment and retention across healthcare professions, and works to optimize the role of nursing throughout the province. On the third initiative, David says, there are lots of ways that healthcare can become more efficient and effective through the use of nurses and nurse practitioners.
“I feel very privileged to be in this role,” David says. “I work in a government that is focused on delivering quality, affordable services for people. There are many dedicated people involved in these efforts to develop a team-based approach to the provision of primary care in British Columbia.”
A worthwhile education
David remains close with five other professionals from his DNP cohort and says that the bonding experience of the program was one of its best attributes. “I was the only person from Canada in our cohort, and while most of the course work was focused on the U.S. healthcare system, I actually found that incredibly helpful,” says David, adding that he has been able to apply what he learned to the context of Canada and British Columbia. “I enjoyed interacting with professionals from all over. I think the volume of papers I had to write served me well in terms of the amount of briefings I create, edit, or approve today, and I believe the discussions on healthcare policy were immensely helpful.”
In addition to his duties as assistant deputy minister and chief nurse executive, David conducts research as a co-principal investigator on equity for indigenous people seeking care in emergency departments in the province. He is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria and speaks regularly on panels and at conferences.
An unexpected, welcome career path
For David, the unfolding of turns in his career is something he never predicted—nor planned better. “It’s been about following my heart, building skills along the way, and a bit of being in the right place at the right time,” David says. Relationships like the ones he has built in his DNP program and at Providence Health Care, where he worked for many years prior to the Ministry, and elsewhere have also played a big part. “I’m grateful to be where I am and appreciative to those who have helped me. I enjoy immensely what I do.”
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.