“I am one of those individuals who always wanted to be a nurse and always wanted to work overseas,” says Glenda Siegrist. Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Glenda started her journey in Lancaster General Hospital’s Registered Nurse program, getting her associate degree in 1983. She moved to Northern Virginia for a job in a stepdown unit and ended up back in school at George Mason University in the mid-to-late 1980s, earning BSN and MSN degrees as well as a Certificate in International Nursing while working as a Nurse Practitioner for a women’s health center and a traveler’s/infectious disease clinic.
The start of her international journey
In 1988, Glenda met her husband, and as fate would have it, he too loved the idea of an international adventure. Glenda joined the Peace Corps as a medical officer and the couple moved to Russia, and soon, Armenia, where Glenda worked as a medical consultant. In 1997, Glenda accepted a foreign service nurse practitioner position with the U.S. Department of State Office of Medical Services. After Armenia, it was Romania followed by Africa: Tunisia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and since 2012, Kenya. Four daughters were born along the way.
As Glenda explains it, she works in a family practice clinic that serves American employees and their family members. “We do everything from well-child exams to adult exams, and a lot of liaising with specialists in the area if patients needed it,” she says. “It has absolutely been a fascinating job and experience.”
Time for a DNP
In 2014, Glenda earned a Master of Arts in counseling, but for the last several years, she has had her eyes on earning a doctorate. “I found out that I was to be stationed next in Sudan, which is a very isolated, war-torn country, and that I wouldn’t be able to take my husband with me,” she says. Once her oldest daughter graduated high school, Glenda started her one-year assignment, and her husband made a suggestion: that she return to school. “He was the one to say, ‘Go back to school! It would give you something to focus on.’”
Glenda agreed—and she was thinking toward the future, too. “We’ve had a lot of adventure, but all of our girls live on the East Coast now, and we wanted to live in the same time zone as them,” she says. Teaching was on her mind, so initially, she sought out education-focused doctorate programs, which led her to American Sentinel University.
The right program
After a lot of searching and weighing options, Glenda concluded that a DNP, not a Ph.D. would suit her needs best. She decided on the Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership at American Sentinel and started in October 2015. “I remember being impressed by American Sentinel from the very start,” she says. “They asked a lot about my questions, my situation, and my internet challenges working in faraway places, and they really cared,” she says. “American Sentinel felt like the only university that would work with me in my unique situation.” Glenda completed her DNP in June 2018.
Her next chapter
In December 2017, Glenda and her husband moved to Quito, Ecuador, for what may be her final international post with the U.S. Department of State. “Eventually, I would love to teach online, but right now I’m thinking our next stop will be Washington, D.C., where I’ve considered leadership with the State Department,” she says. She has also considered working part time in a low-income clinic. With the DNP, any or all of these options will be open to her. “I’m very happy I took the leap to do this. It put my years of experience to use, gave me new knowledge and truly opened up possibilities I’d never even considered before. The courses gave me tools that will help me take my next steps.”
Inspired by Glenda’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.