Douglas Taylor on Being a 2016 Board of Directors Student Scholar
Last year, CPT Doug Taylor, RN, applied for and received the APNA Board of Directors Student Scholarship. "The experience helped enrich my perception of the people who choose psychiatric-mental health nursing. Those who dedicate their lives to this profession are truly beautiful and amazing people," he says. We spoke with Doug about what it was like to be a Board of Directors Student Scholar: what he gained, what inspired him, and what comes next in his career.
Q: Why did you apply for the BOD Scholarship?
A: I applied to the APNA BOD Scholarship to grow as a nurse leader. The scholarship allowed me to build relationships and be present in the psychiatric-mental health nursing community. Nurses have an important role to play in the development of person-centered mental health treatment and the broader American healthcare environment. APNA is an amazing community that ties nurses together and provides a forum to improve care for people.
Q: What did you gain from the Scholarship?
A: I gained professionally and personally from the Scholarship. Professionally, I gained recognition from my peers, faculty, and supervisor. Most apparent, this helps me improve my annual work evaluation. More importantly, this recognition helped me increase my ability to influence people and thus increase the voice of mental health nursing in direct person care and policy development. Personally, this Scholarship instilled in me a great sense of gratitude, especially to the whole APNA team and the Board of Directors. The personal attention and encouragement build a further sense of duty to be an active nurse leader and pay the generosity forward.
Q: How has your experience influenced your perceptions of psychiatric-mental health nursing?
A: The experience helped enrich my perception of the people who choose psychiatric-mental health nursing. Those who dedicate their lives to this profession are truly beautiful and amazing people. At the APNA conference, I connected with people easier than other professional conferences I have attended. There is something special about connecting over our shared specialty. After the conference, a nurse I met, who was an Army Nurse in a previous life, mailed a beautiful homemade necklace to my wife. What wonderful people!
Q: What is next for you in your career?
A: I have been in the Army Nurse Corps for 10 years, and I plan on staying in the military for another 10 years. I will graduate from the Uniformed Services University May 2018 with a Doctor of Nursing Practice and begin practicing as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. I am very interested in being a community leader and plan on continuing to participate in nursing associations such as APNA and American Nurses Association. Additionally, I am a member of the Military Officers Association of America. I plan on seeking leadership roles within these organizations, building relationships, and learning how to influence policy and people to improve care delivery. A unified voice is powerful, and I want to help identify where nursing and military advocates share goals so we can continue to combine our resources.
Q: You have mentioned that you would like to become a mentor for new nurses while seeking out a mentor of your own. What are you looking for in a mentor, and what do you want to provide as a mentor?
A: I did not realize it before, but mentorship is essential to my growth both personally and professionally. Most of my mentors grew organically from relationships developed. Mentors have helped me to be a better husband, father, Army officer, nurse, and friend. Less frequently, I have identified a person who has accomplished something great or has an expertise I admire, and I approach with the goal of developing a friendship. Qualities that I look for in a mentor are interest in helping me, availability, and a feeling of mutual regard. Identifying a mentor and actively seeking them out is uncomfortable and daunting at times. I keep this in mind when I am talking with individuals who have less experience in nursing or the military than I do. If I feel like I could be a mentor for someone, I try and make myself available and show interest in them. Before the APNA conference, I did not recognize how much I have to offer people. At the conference, I met a fellow BOD Scholar who was working on her bachelor's of science in nursing. Talking with her, I was shocked to realize just how much I have learned about nursing in the decade since I graduated. It was rewarding to witness her develop a better understanding of nursing, and I felt the personal reward of receiving genuine appreciation for helping her.
If you know an exceptional nursing student who would benefit from an experience like Doug's, encourage them to apply for the 2017 Board of Directors Student Scholarship! Deadline for applying is May 8, 2017.