Nurses do more today than ever before. They are the backbone of any hospital or treatment facility. Patients rely on them for consistent care and doctors rely on them to give professional feedback on patient response. Nursing has advanced and expanded to the point of doctoral degree programs being created to better serve the evolving health care system.
Dr. Jakki Opollo is the director of professional practice and nursing research at Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, Texas. She is laying the groundwork for building a robust research and evidence based practice infrastructure at Parkland Hospital.
Opollo enrolled at Brookhaven College (DCCCD) and earned her associates degree in science and a second Associates in nursing. She started working Medical City Dallas Hospital as a nurse technician in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) at Medical City Dallas. Upon obtaining her Registered Nurse licensure, Opollo became a staff nurse and later the charge nurse. She earned her Bachelor's of Science in nursing from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).
She earned two master's degrees concurrently in nursing with a focus on nursing administration from UTA and the other in Public Health with a focus on Policy and Management from the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth.
"The dual degrees gave me the best of both worlds. I have a passion for global health issues, like HIV, AIDS and how it has affected goal societies. I believed earning a master's in public health would expand my knowledge and influence so that I could participate in discussions and decisions that can affect policy making," said Opollo.
Opollo then became the Nursing Supervisor for a 36-Bed Progressive Care Unit at Medical City Dallas Hospital. "This was a leadership position, which allowed me to utilize what I had learned in my master's program. I learned how to mentor and lead others, and apply a multi-disciplinary approach to solving problems.
At Parkland Health & Hospital System Opollo's position as Nursing Administrative Officer, was a unique role that provided her opportunities to understand the health care environment from a global perspective. "As the first responder to emergency situations, you have to be quick on your feet and use strong problem-solving and decision-making skills in promoting safe, quality care by applying your professional knowledge, judgment, within state, federal and facility administrative policies, procedures, protocols and guidelines. I have built strong relationships across the hospital," said Opollo.
Opollo's advice to others seeking graduate degrees, "You have to do it. We are living in a time where patients expect the best from us. Going for a master's will equip you with the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to advance innovative solutions for critical health challenges. If you want to be competitive in a global society, you must commit to lifelong learning, it is the gateway to success."
Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com
for more features.