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Nursing grad puts skills to use in hometown

| Judy Berthiaume

What is the best thing about earning a doctorate of nursing practice degree from UW-Eau Claire?

The chance to put her medical skills to use in her hometown of Cornell, says Kelsey Meyer.

“I will serve as a primary care provider for the community in which I live,” Kelsey says of her new position with Prevea Health in Cornell.  “I am very happy to be able to provide health care services to my own community, a community in which I was raised and care deeply about.”

Kelsey, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from UW-Eau Claire in 2013, will graduate May 20 with her DNP.

Nursing is an attractive profession because it offers opportunities to help others, but also provides a variety of career paths, as well as great flexibility, Kelsey says of her interest in health care.

“There are many avenues one can travel as a nurse, avenues that allow you to help others in need and be there for people when they need someone most,” Kelsey says.

Kelsey, who knew since high school that she wanted to be a nurse, first earned an associate degree in nursing, then a bachelor’s degree and now her DNP.

“Once I decided I wanted to become a nurse, I knew that I wanted to take it to the highest level and become an advance practice nurse practitioner,” Kelsey says. “Being from the Chippewa Valley and having attended UW-Eau Claire for my BSN, I knew UWEC was the place to reach my goals.”

The UW-Eau Claire program’s part-time options, as well as opportunities to complete clinical rotations in acute and primary care, matched her needs and interests perfectly, Kelsey says.

The flexibility allowed her to earn her DNP while working as a registered nurse in Eau Claire and raising a young family.

“Being able to continue gaining RN experience while completing my graduate degree was very important for me,” Kelsey says. “Being a newer nurse, I knew that gaining more experience was necessary. I also had many opportunities as an RN to gain more knowledge, which I could apply to my DNP studies.

“At UW-Eau Claire, I was able to continue to bring in my income, and have a flexible clinical schedule with providers that I have worked with as an RN and who I respect greatly.”

Still, with two young children — ages 4 and 2 — and a third on the way, Kelsey is looking forward to again calling herself an alumna instead of a student.

“They are very ready for mommy to be done with school,” Kelsey says of her children.

Words of wisdom for other nurses considering enrolling in the DNP program?

“Although it takes determination and a lot of hard work, you can pursue a graduate degree and still practice as a nurse, be there for family and continue to live your life,” Kelsey says. “The option of going part time, having flexible clinical schedules in local health care organizations and a supportive husband made it possible for me to reach my goal of becoming a health care provider in the rural community in which I live.”

While she is proud of her accomplishment, Kelsey says she is one of many DNP students who are juggling work, family and other responsibilities as they continue their education.

“I wanted to share my story and give credit to my fellow students to hopefully give inspiration to others out there who feel their lives are too busy to reach their goals,” Kelsey says. “UWEC’s program allows you to act in the many different roles that we have in our lives and to still advance in your nursing career.”

Photo caption: Kelsey Meyer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from UW-Eau Claire in 2013, will graduate May 20 with her DNP.