Growing up with a physician father and nurse mother, there was never a question that Dismus Irungu would end up working in healthcare. “They used to fight over me,” laughs Dismus, who grew up in Kenya, Africa, within walking distance of the hospital where his parents worked. All his life, he wanted to care for patients. “I really never waivered from that, and as a nurse today, I tell people that nursing wasn’t just a passion. It was a calling.”
Dismus earned a nursing diploma in Kenya then practiced for 10 years, first in community nursing, then midwifery, then the public health setting. “It was very good experience and exposed me to different areas of healthcare,” he says. “It’s a foundation that really continues to help me today.”
Trained in public health
In 1996, Dismus moved to the United States and attended a bible college in Pennsylvania. And although his faith guided his move and studies, it also led him back to his passion for helping others. “I believe that I was meant to be a nurse and help people through medicine,” Dismus says. Simultaneous to his religious studies, he earned an Associate Degree of Nursing, graduating in 2002.
Long-term care, ICU and a cross country move
After completing his American nursing education, Dismus accepted a position at a long-term care facility in Harrisburg. Eventually, he started working at Pennsylvania State University’s Hershey Medical Center as a nurse in the intensive care unit, which was supportive of his goal to return to school for a master’s degree. Through the hospital’s partnership, Dismus earned a master’s in health education at Penn State in 2006.
In 2008, Dismus moved to California for a change of weather and a new environment. He joined Beverly Hospital’s ICU staff nursing team and also worked in the emergency room float pool. Over time, Dismus broadened his experience by becoming a supervisor, an education manager, an education director and an ambulatory care staff educator.
In 2013, Dismus joined Kaiser Permanente as an education consultant. Soon, he was asked to become a case manager in the pediatrics area. “I had actually taught pediatrics while I was an education consultant and got to know the manager of that clinic and they asked me to consider becoming the area’s case manager,” he says. Dismus became a case manager in the neurosurgery area in 2018.
Kaiser is supportive of nurses furthering their education, so Dismus decided to pursue a longtime goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. “American Sentinel is an educational partner of Kaiser Permanente, and although I had started an MSN Nursing Education program at another school, when this partnership started, I was so excited to switch into the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner,” he says.
The school for him
Dismus says after his first conversation with an American Sentinel staff member, he knew that the college was where he belonged. “The Nurse Practitioner degree is something I have been thinking about for a long time,” he says. Now a year into the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program, Dismus says he is very pleased. “Instructors are available for us any time and it’s been a very encouraging climate. The program is set up for students’ success, and the clarity of what is expected of us is excellent. That’s also helped me do well.”
First stop: Rural America
After he graduates in 2023, Dismus hopes to become a Nurse Practitioner in a rural part of America. “I love the idea of gaining experience in an area that is underserved,” he says. Eventually, Dismus wants to return to Kenya, where he still has many family members, and give back to the community. “That’s an area that needs a lot of help and education about good healthcare practices. I think becoming a Nurse Practitioner would put me in the position of being able to give back to my people.”
Inspired by Dismus’ story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or nurse practitioner. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. 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.
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