When Tangela Evans gave birth to her son 15 weeks prematurely, her world turned upside down. “I was serving in the Marine Corps and stationed in Okinawa, Japan, however, the nearest Neonatal Intensive Care Unit equipped to care for a baby his size was in the Philippines,” says Tangela, who is originally from Miami, Florida. “I spent several months there. I had a nurse who helped me see my son beyond the tubes and the machinery. She made me a part of his care at the age of 18 when I was scared and alone.”
On the nurse path
The experience was so positive that Tangela started thinking about healthcare herself. After leaving the Marine Corps in 1992, she returned to school to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and started her career in a nursing home in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Soon, it was onward for an Associate of Arts in 1997 and a BSN in 1999.
Tangela gained experience in the intensive care unit and in hemodialysis. She did a little travel nursing and spent time in the cardiac catheterization lab as well. Eventually, she moved to the Orlando area.
Along the way, Tangela started thinking about nursing education. “To me, education is such an important part of nursing,” she says. “I’ve always gravitated to the student nurses and was the first to raise my hand to train them or be a preceptor. My belief is you never stop learning as a nurse and it is the duty of other nurses to teach those that are aspiring to work in the nursing profession.”
Teaching…and back to school
In 2013, Tangela took a leap of faith and enrolled in an MSN nurse education program at University of South Florida. She also got an adjunct teaching position in the associate degree nursing program at Seminole State College, stepping away from the bedside to fully embrace the change.
Teaching suited her well. “I really try to make learning a hands-on and rewarding experience for my students,” she says. Tangela was offered a full-time position at Seminole State in 2016, where she continues to work today. “I love this school. We have a diverse student body, and I love hearing about their life experiences and showing them how they can apply those experiences to nursing.”
Doctor of Nursing Practice
In 2018, Tangela began thinking about furthering her education once again. “I was enjoying what I was doing and I knew I wanted to continue to grow professionally,” she says. “I knew that a terminal degree was required to continue moving forward.”
She started researching doctoral programs that would fit her busy life and discovered American Sentinel University. “I had a few co-workers who had attended American Sentinel, so it came highly recommended,” she says. “Many things stood out to me: the veteran benefits, the commitment to student success, and the overall responsiveness from everyone—from the very first person I spoke to.” Tangela began the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership in August 2018.
A relevant capstone
The relevancy of the DNP curriculum is the highlight of the program, Tangela says. For her capstone, she is investigating how a medication administration simulation experience impacts nursing students’ self-efficacy. “Nurses have the power to impact patient outcomes and I’m eager to see how we can prevent medication errors from happening,” she says.
A great support system
Tangela says that the support at American Sentinel has been great, and she’s had a lot of encouragement at home too. Her two sons, daughter and fiancée have encouraged her to push past any self-doubt. “They remind me to never let obstacles stop me from believing in myself,” she says. “My cheering squad encourages me daily. This really is a family DNP journey!”
Her goal is to continue building her knowledge base. “I want to understand the bigger dynamics of nursing education and make positive changes within the nursing profession,” Tangela says. American Sentinel, she adds, has prepared her every step of the way. “It has been such a phenomenal experience. I’ve never encountered anything like the support I have experienced here. This university wants me to succeed, and I can feel it.”
Inspired by Tangela’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.