At 17 years old, Brandon Pfeiffer went into the U.S. Army, but as the son of two nurses, he knew it was only a matter of time before he ended up in nursing himself. “Nursing sort of runs in my family,” jokes Brandon, who is from central Florida. His grandmother, aunt and brother are also nurses, and his sister is a respiratory therapist. After getting medically discharged from the Army, Brandon went to Santa Fe College in Gainesville and graduated in 2003. He’s been a Registered Nurse since 2005.
A career starting in the surgical intensive care unit
Brandon began his career in the surgical ICU at University of Florida Health Shands Hospital. “I loved it from the start and being part of a critical care team,” he says. In 2007, Brandon went back to school for a BSN at the University of Central Florida, while continuing to work full time. In 2013, he started a Nurse Practitioner program but realized that leadership was his interest. He took a job with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a nurse manager at Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center in 2016 and transferred into an MSN Nursing Leadership and Organizational Management program at Jacksonville University, graduating in 2018.
Major ambitions that started with a Doctor of Nursing Practice
Brandon says that the idea of earning a doctorate degree came to him when he was an MSN student. “I knew two individuals who highly recommended the MSN program at American Sentinel University and decided to research the DNP program myself,” he says. “I have ambitions of running a hospital one day and want to be the CNO of a healthcare facility. American Sentinel really just fit my goals and I liked the look of the DNP program.”
Brandon’s other motivation was the idea of setting himself apart. “These days, most nurses are required to earn a BSN, and an MSN is becoming essential to take that next step. To me, that meant that the best way to further my career is to go beyond the BSN and MSN. A terminal degree was what I set my sights on.” Brandon started the DNP Executive Leadership program in February 2019 and will graduate in June 2021.
Expanding the knowledge he has already
Thus far, Brandon says the DNP Executive Leadership courses are helping him expand upon everything he has learned in his career. “Many of the classes are helping me put a name to the topics that are new to me or things that I’m dealing with or doing in my job already,” he says. “Everything I am learning is very applicable to what I do every day.”
Brandon’s capstone project focuses on the impact of open visitation in an adult intensive care unit. “I am testing whether open versus restricted visitation hours for patients and families impacts nurse satisfaction. There’s a lot of stigma around open visitation—that it is more work for nurses who feel it creates an increased workload, when in fact, the research shows otherwise.”
Goals for the future
When Brandon graduates from American Sentinel in June 2021, his first order of business is to go fishing again. “I’m a licensed boat captain and I take people fishing in my spare time,” he says. “I also want to keep my eyes out for upper leadership positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I love serving veterans and I want to be the very best at what I do.”
Brandon recommends American Sentinel University to people at every opportunity. “Like the VA, this feels like a close-knit family,” he says. “The instructors know all of us and want to help us achieve our goals. This is a university that works for people who want to pursue their educational goals and work at the same time.”
Inspired by Brandon’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.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.