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January 19, 2021

Doctor of Nursing Graduate Making a Difference in Palliative Care

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Jennifer Duffy always knew that should North Park offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, it would be no question that she would choose North Park to pursue her degree. As a North Park alum, C’07 G’11 G’20, Duffy already had first-hand experience with the quality of education from the School of Nursing. With two degrees earned from North Park, applying to the DNP program was a simple choice—she thrived in the small, personal, and supportive environment that extended into the doctorate program. “I would do it all again at North Park,” said Duffy.

Jennifer Duffy

The online program, in place prior to COVID-19, worked well for Duffy. “There were no issues, even though the DNP is a new program,” said Duffy. “The faculty always had their plans set up prior to class starting,” added Duffy.

Now working in the Cancer Center at a Chicago area medical center, Duffy’s goals of making a difference in quality improvement measures within palliative care have come to fruition. While engaged in the DNP program, Duffy decided to focus her project on Increasing Advance Directive Completion in Cancer Patients in Outpatient Palliative Care.

“I had all the tools and support I needed to complete my project with success,” said Duffy. Guided by DNP faculty advisor Dr. Trudy DeWaters, faculty consultant Dr. Janice Zeller, and site mentor Dr. Nooshig Salvador, Duffy was able to achieve measurable results with her DNP project.

Advance directives, a term referring to families, patients, and providers making important decisions in a health-related crisis, is an area that Duffy found needed attention especially within palliative care. Recognizing the burden families and healthcare providers encounter when making emergency and quality of life decisions such as do-not-resuscitate (DNR), Duffy homed in on facilitating these conversations through the use of a discussion template.

When Duffy first started the project, the advance directives completion rate was a low 12% and by the time Duffy developed and implemented a discussion template, the completion rate jumped to 67%.

With her DNP degree in hand, Duffy is continuing her work facilitating and documenting these essential discussions between nurses and patients. She also plans to submit her manuscript to a nursing journal for publication and as a long-term goal, Duffy intends to give back and teach the next generation of nurses.

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