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Immigrant from Gambia, DNP, Personal Statement, Psychiatric Mental Health Certificate

Updated: May 11

I hope to earn the DNP Degree and the Post-Master’s Certificate in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing at XXXX University, enhancing my capacity to see, understand, and treat my patients in a holistic fashion that fully takes into account their mental health status and challenges. I also hope to continue to contribute to nursing education in my native Gambia, where I have already been on 2 occasions, in 2009 and again in 2011, giving lectures, helping to organize health awareness education programs; and supplying hospitals with bandages and other supplies.

My selected advanced practice specialty will be in the area of mental health with a focus on women. I hope to serve in America’s prison system because I see women behind bars as the ones in greatest need of my assistance, and the people to which I personally have the most to give. My first year in nursing was spent in our step down psych unit and for the last 8 years I have served in our progressive care/heart failure unit. Mental health patients are everywhere in our telemetry unit. I would go so far as to suggest that a majority of our patients on telemetry/PCU have some type of mental health challenge. Generally speaking, I am the one who is assigned to care for them because it is well known that I am especially good with psych patients.

Coming to the US as a refugee from Africa in 1999, at 16, I have been a full-time nurse for the past 9 years. Now 32, I am thankful that I was welcomed to America and given the chance to build a satisfying life. My humble beginnings have helped me to cultivate the greatest gifts of all, compassion, empathy, and the ability to relate to all patients who pass through the hospital doors, especially many of the least fortunate with the fewest resources, people of color, recent immigrants, etc. Women of low socioeconomic status tend to be abused physically and psychologically; and tend to be women of color. Thus, in this context, being an ‘African’ woman becomes an asset, because I am immediately perceived by victims as someone who is capable of understanding what has happened to them, to empathize.

I see many of the women of color that are incarcerated in America as victims on some level, vulnerable members of our society, especially since so many of them are mentally ill. I was physically and sexually abused myself as a child in Gambia, and then raped by someone who I thought was a family friend shortly after my arrival in America, a much older man, which resulted in my son, my only child. Thus, sexual violence is central to my own story and my personal struggle to triumph in the face of my own victimization. My long term dream is to teach mental health nursing in Africa with special attention to the diagnosis and treatment of women with emotional/psychological problems. My ideal job would be working with the WHO’s mental health initiatives. I remember what it is like to contemplate suicide, after being raped at 17 and later pregnant at 18. I am most thankful that I am not prone to depression and that prayer and personal strength enabled me to heal so that I can help others who have not been so fortunate.

I see inter-professional collaboration as an especially critical aspect of psychiatric and mental health nursing, because of the fact that the most vulnerable members of our society often if not usually depend on much more than medical attention, requiring a great deal of inter-professional collaboration in a variety of areas, especially with social workers but other institutions and professionals as well, occupational, physical, and speech therapists for example. The coordination of resources that need to be made available to a patient upon discharge from the hospital is left in the hands of the nurses and hospital staff. Thus, I especially look forward to studying everything in the curriculum that has to do with coordination between nurses and other professionals from many sectors of our society.

XXXX University if my first choice among DNP Programs for a variety of reasons including the location. I especially admire the work of Dr. XXXX in the area of HIV/STI and substance abuse prevention and mental health issues among ethnic minorities-- immigrant youth in particular. I look forward to many decades of work in many of the areas in which Dr. XXXX is engaged, so it would be a special honor for me to be able to benefit from her academic guidance. I am particularly excited about the prospect of promoting the new HPV vaccine.

Growing up in Gambia, I witnessed first-hand how communities suffered from an absence of medical attention, with many children and adults dying of diseases that are now both preventable and curable. Medical care was simply unavailable to 90% of the members of my community because they were poor, and this always struck me as a brutal and cruel injustice. In this way, I began to hope while still a child that I would grow up to become a health care worker and do everything that I could to address these disparities.

I got off to a slow start at realizing my dreams because I spent several years being a teenage single mom before I pulled it all together to attend nursing school. Once I began studying, I was a registered nurse within 3 years and earned my BSN in 2013. I will be starting my final preceptorship class on September 25, 2015 for my MSN program and will graduate in May of next year, 2016. I hope to begin classes towards the DNP Degree at XXXX University the following fall semester.

Earning my DNP at XXU along with my Post Master's Psychiatric Mental Health Certificate will enable me to provide optimal care for patients who not only face multiple physical challenges such as diabetes, hypertension, etc., but have serious mental health issues as well, generally intertwined with their physical conditions in complex ways. I will also be much better prepared to advocate for my patients and participate in critically important research geared towards minority groups with mental illness, particularly women and children. Ideally I will care for women in prison or a secure facility for the mentally ill, exercising and cultivating my leadership skills at every level.

Eventually, I hope to be accepted to work with the WHO and further cultivate my focus on Africa.

My current job responsibilities include discharge planning and daily engagement with the cultural and economic factors that come into play for each individual being discharged; I look forward to doing research in this area as a doctoral student in your program.

I thank you for considering my application.

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