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Alumni Spotlight - Robert Powell

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Robert L. Powell is a May 2018 graduate of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the School of Nursing.  We asked Robert about his journey through graduate school and his current career path.   

Describe your career path and current occupation. 

I completed an Associate’s Degree in Nursing in 1993 through J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. It was followed by a Bachelor's in Nursing in 1999 and a Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner from Old Dominion University in 2003. The DNP program at VCU was completed in 2018. 

How did you become interested in this field? 

By spending the majority of my earlier registered nursing career in Surgical Services, I had frequent and direct contact with many Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. That interaction sparked me to look at the many roles advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) have. With its flexibility and inherent challenges, the family nurse practitioner (FNP) role was most attractive to me.

What do you like best about the type of work you do? 

It offers both an active as well as interactive nursing role. I am able to provide impactful education and guidance to my patients and family members while also continuing to learn on a daily basis too. I can go from one exam room where simultaneously managing multiple comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes and heart failure are required and in to another room to biopsy a suspicious lesion or aspirate a knee. No two days are alike. 

What was most memorable about your experiences in your VCU graduate program? 

VCU attracted a broad range of Master's prepared nurses for its first DNP cohort and that diversity helped make the program memorable. The usual research component was replaced with quality and safety outcomes to evaluate practice improvement initiatives. Using evidence based practice, each of us was allowed to create a unique project that focused on sustainable practice change. 

What advice would you give current and prospective students about pursuing a graduate degree at VCU? 

Do not simply focus on the destination. Take advantage of the journey and what it offers. The interactions and relationships with faculty and fellow students (in the DNP and PhD programs) will prove to be extremely useful during the program as well as following completion. Do not forget to reach out to those individuals who have taken the same path.

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