DNPs of Color: Changing the Game and Forging New Paths
In creating DNPs of Color, I never anticipated that it would grow into the movement that it has become today. Staying true to the mission of seeking ways to inspire and empower others has always led me down pathways towards dismantling the status quo.
Building community and creating opportunity, a motto that has emerged in the past couple years as I’ve embarked on the journey to find ways around structures that exclude racialized and marginalized groups. In creating DNPs of Color, I never anticipated that it would grow into the movement that it has become today. Staying true to the mission of seeking ways to inspire and empower others has always led me down pathways towards dismantling the status quo.
DNPs of Color was established from my experience simply as a group that I needed during the time I felt vulnerable, unseen, and unsure. During my doctoral studies, I was the only Black woman at the start of my program. This was an experience that was NOT new to me but still the feelings associated with it like (imposter syndrome, insecurity, and anxiety) seem to never fade. DOCs started out as a Facebook group and grew exponentially in a short period of time. Many individuals that found DOCs expressed similar feelings that I had of insecurity, lack of belonging, experiencing racism and...the list goes on. As the group grew organically, mentorship opportunities arose, networking, information and idea exchanges began to percolate regularly. So many individuals felt safe, seen, and heard in DNPs of Color. I began to hear the needs of this community of nurses that shared there’s no other space for them like DOCs. More and more conversations around bridging the gaps post-DNP around clinical practice, leadership, research, and mentorship shed light into the ways we are structuring our organization and creating programming and events to meet those needs.
As we as a society continue to grapple with the social and political events that have revealed the permeation of racism in healthcare, the urgency to increase diversity in the healthcare workforce is becoming more abundantly clear. The need for affinity group spaces solidified the importance of DNPs of Color within nursing.
A Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree is the highest level of education a nurse can attain which focuses on clinical practice. DNP prepared nurses influence healthcare outcomes through healthcare policy, organizational leadership, and translating nursing research into evidenced-based practice. Within nursing, having your doctorate means something. This level of knowledge puts us at different tables where decisions are being made, policies being created, and most importantly expanding one's influence and impact in the nursing profession. For these reasons this is why our mission is centered around doctors of nursing practice.
Campaign for action put out data that over the past decade 50,000 DNPs to 7,000 PhDs have graduated. With this many DNP prepared nurses in practice and as more nurses of color pursue their DNP degrees, and institutions transition to DNP advanced practice programs, this influx of DNP prepared nursing professionals will continue to rise. Because of this it uniquely positions DNPs of Color as the leading organization that supports the voice of this community of nurses. Changing the Game and Forging New Paths is the energy that is alive in our organization. By our very existence and the richness in our diversity we are changing the game, with the elevation of our education and professional opportunities enables us to be at certain tables, having the opportunity to shape a new path.
We as nurses are innovators, creators, and have the unique ability to find and bridge gaps. This is exactly what I did, and I encourage other nurses to do the same. There are so many opportunities for us to put forth transformative action when we find that gap and pursue our passions. Inspiring nurses, empowering professionals, and transforming nursing practice, that is what DNPs of Color is all about and at such a time as this we will make a significant impact to do just that. It is an honor to be in service to nursing through the collective impact DNPs of Color will continue to make in our profession and in the lives of the people we care for every day.