Deciding to transition from a registered nurse (RN) to a nurse practitioner (NP) is a big decision. The commitment to obtain the additional education and training for this prestigious designation is significant. And while it may not be for every nursing professional, those who take the step to become an NP gain many new opportunities.
For Sheila Davies, a Northwell Health supervising nurse practitioner, the decision to become a nurse practitioner was made early in her nursing career. She started her career with Northwell as a surgical intensive care trauma nurse but wanted to continue her education after receiving her bachelor’s degree.
“I knew I wanted more,” says Sheila. “Health care is continuously changing, and I realized that becoming an NP would open up more doors for me and better prepare me for those ongoing changes.”
She enrolled in day classes at Stony Brook University while continuing to work nights at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). She completed the NP master’s degree program in two years and immediately accepted a position in NSUH’s open heart intensive care unit.
Like Sheila, Peggy McCormack also launched her healthcare career as a registered nurse. With an associate degree from Nassau Community College, Peggy continued to work full time while attending Columbia University for a dual BSN/MSN degree, and graduated as an adult NP. At the time of graduation, Peggy already was working on NSUH’s cardiothoracic service team, which was expanding. She interviewed for one of the open positions and was hired as a NP on the post operative cardiac surgery floor.
For both Sheila and Peggy, mentors were very important to their career development, helping to orient them in their new roles. They knew that surrounding themselves with skilled and experienced professionals would help them achieve their own successes.
“It was hard work but exciting, challenging and rewarding,” says Peggy. “I was fortunate to work with a team of dynamic practitioners who were clinically outstanding, took pride in the care they provided, had strong work ethics, and on top of all that, they were funny.”
For Sheila and Peggy, their focus on education didn’t stop after they became NPs. Sheila continued her education by earning a doctorate in nursing practice. This has enabled her on her path of becoming a change agent in healthcare. She currently leads the Follow Your Heart team who were finalists for the 2018 President’s Award for Teamwork. The program is one of a kind and provides essential follow-up visits for cardiac surgery patients at their home or post-acute care location.
Peggy’s pursuit for personal and professional growth led her to obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Hofstra University with a subspecialty in quality management. The program helped her gain greater insights into the business side of health care. With her additional education, Peggy became a clinical liaison, helping with improvement projects. She advanced to the role of supervisor of medicine advanced clinical providers and helped to develop a structured orientation program for new hires at NSUH, which has resulted in improved employee engagement, recruitment and retention rates.
For both employees, the support that Northwell provided was pivotal to their success.
“I was given the flexibility I needed to pursue further education and achieve in my career,” says Sheila. “I’ve been able to constantly improve my skills and knowledge.”