“If you had asked me 10 years ago if I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I would have said no way,” says Linda Bay ’01 ’04 ’07 ’18.
A clinical nurse specialist for the Veterans Health Administration for nearly 30 years, Bay took on national oversight of the VA’s hotline division last July. She says it was Alverno’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program that finally gave her the confidence to take a leadership role within the organization.
“I wouldn’t have thought about applying for this job without the leadership classes in the DNP,” she says. “Alverno challenged my thinking and made me get out of my comfort zone.”
Last month, Bay and fellow alumna Christina Megal ’92 ’99 ’15 ’18 became the first graduates of the DNP program. Bay will now be incorporating what she learned through her doctoral research project to help create stronger team connections at the VA. Her research focused on how to bring joy and empowerment to the workplace to improve nurses’ ability to build resilience and address burnout.
Bay’s job is in oversight and investigating issues with Veteran care — she plans to use her research findings to build people up rather than tear them down.
“When I go to a VA, it’s usually because there’s a problem,” she says, “but I can look at what the organization is doing well, and can use that information to help them find their joy — to ultimately get them to positively reframe the care at VAs.”
Megal is also expanding her doctoral research in her role as a nurse practitioner within the trauma surgery division of the Medical College of Wisconsin. During her studies, she examined the use of next-generation DNA sequencing to identify bacteria living within the wounds and then used custom ointments to promote healing. She’s now developing a study to further investigate this groundbreaking approach to chronic wound care. (Learn more about Megal’s research here.)
“I didn’t have the skills to do this research coming out of the master’s program, but now I’m more comfortable designing a study, gathering the tools to collect data and doing the advanced analysis,” Megal says. “Both Linda and I had complicated projects with potential for far-reaching impact. I’m proud of our research; it really shows what Alverno has to offer.”
As Alverno alums, Bay and Megal knew the DNP program would challenge them. Both note the unique opportunity, funded by a generous nursing alumna, to study Ireland’s health care system. After the trip, they presented health policy recommendations to Senate representatives in Washington, D.C.
As Alverno’s first DNP graduates, Bay and Megan were able to help shape the program and set the bar high for future students. They are ready to lead — and to help others.
“I always believe that when you get to your goal, you have to take others with you. So now I want to see who I can bring with me,” Bay says. “That’s part of the positivity of Alverno.”
Are you ready to reach the top of the nursing profession? Click here to learn more about Alverno’s DNP program.