How do you inspire, empower and transform the experiences for persons of color in academia and their pursuit of a terminal degree? You seek out an innovative approach and create a pipeline for them.The idea for DNPs of Color (DOCs) was born during the first year of my Doctorate in Nurse Practice (DNP) program. Myself like many other nurses, started the journey of obtaining a terminal degree with lots of fear and doubt in mind, but the focus on accomplishing this goal and being one of the many firsts in my family to obtain a doctorate helped propel me through. In addition, the onus placed on me to succeed and help lead the way for others was present in my subconsciousness. I knew that this accomplishment was not only for me but also to the benefit of improving health for those in communities of color. The literature supports that the delivery of care by a diverse body of providers improves patient outcomes.

The journey in obtaining a DNP for students of color can be challenging and daunting from start to finish. Having the presence of those you identify with especially mentors, fellow students and practicing DOCs can be very uplifting and encouraging to those just starting the journey. DNPs of Color was created to provide a community that can support students, newly “minted” DNPs of color, and ultimately help increase diversity in the DNP. We also seek to encourage supportive environments, influence the landscape in academia and education, outcomes in our communities, and ultimately healthcare. DNPs of Color started its reach to potential members through the utilization of social media (FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIN and Instagram). The response has been encouraging and the numbers increase daily.

DNP students of color report experiencing a lack of support from faculty, professional organizations, faculty and fellow student discrimination, feeling invalidated by nursing colleagues and overall lack of support from family and friends. DOCs also have the added burden of being “the first” in their families and communities to pursue doctoral education; failure is not an option, when your community is watching you.

Below, are a few comments that validate the need for DOCs community and the need for support to be successful: “Our group is needed to support current DOCs, those in school and those considering the possibility of DNP education. It truly makes a difference when you see someone who looks like you being successful, it gives you hope. I have seen evidence from the comments on the various social media platforms for DOCS, we are giving hope to many future and pursuing DOCS, there are strength in numbers, we give voice to those who we need to enter this field and become decision makers.”

“DNPs of Color is absolutely needed. My personal experience in my DNP program-I was the only Latina with 5 African Americans in my class of 30, by the time we graduated there were 25 students… racism from the professors was rampant and not well hidden. The feeling was pervasive. All the staff, the dean, and professors were Caucasian and treated us poorly, while the other students who were Caucasian were treated very differently. They were allowed extensions, absences, there was even a student who did not finish her doctoral project, but still passed. I cried and suffered greatly and spoke to a dear friend about the terrible treatment we received and she said “use the race card,and they’ll back off”….I didn’t want to….however, when they threatened myself and another student, in a phone conference, stating “we were not doctoral student material, and we should consider withdrawing” I said it….”Do you mean to imply that because we are students of color, we’re unable to do the work?” Well they of course backtracked and said no, no, that’s not what we mean. I felt stronger, I demanded to change my advisor. I worked 10 times harder as did my colleagues of color and we finished, we graduated, we accomplished the unthinkable (to them)…that’s my personal story. We need the association, we need to help those men and women who face the same hurdles of racism. We need to support them, for I’m certain I’m not the only person who has gone through similar situations.

“Special places where groups can find a group of like minded people who authentically share a common experience are golden. Some who come here are mentors, some are novices. They are really valuable.”

“As a DNP soldier, I myself have asked many times why am I doing this…then looking at men & women that look like me are in the same struggle or have survived the war, how could I quit. This group is very positive and motivating to keep me focused. I appreciate each of my brothers & sisters in this struggle” “The group is needed because students of color, especially Blacks or African-Americans often feel disconnected from their peers. I know as a nurse anesthetist the journey through school and often in my daily professional life can feel lonely. This group will allow DOCs to network and share experiences with those to which they can relate. Furthermore, there is an imbalance between the number of minorities in the U.S. versus the number represented in doctoral education. This group could help change that”

A few trail blazers, recent DNP of Color graduates, Dr. Jenna Benyounes, Dr. Daisy Medina-Kreppein, Dr. Ethlyn McQueen-Gibson, Dr. Marilyn Whitening, and current DNP students: Kiya Bell, Dr. LaDonna Brown and Toni Manuel have stepped up to serve as mentors and demonstrate to fellow DOCs that success is within their reach. Our mission is to connect fellow DOCs in order to network, support and create disruptive innovations that will help increase diversity in the DNP. This group is open to anyone that has a DNP, DNP students or those that have a motivation to connect to increase diversity in our profession. Our vision is to inspire, empower and transform the landscape of nursing to include more diversity on the doctoral level.We also aim to serve as mentors and guides to nurses of color to pursue doctor of nursing studies, expand networks and opportunities for engagement such as employment in academia, research and clinical areas with DOCs. We also aim to foster educational support and positive experiences amongst DOCs. Whether you identify as a person of color or have an interest in diversity, inclusion and engagement we welcome you to help this diverse group of individuals change the health outcomes for our communities. We look forward to the growth and success of DOCs and engaging with fellow DNPs.

Feel free to learn more about us here:

-Dr. Ethlyn McQueen-Gibson, DNP, MSN, RN-BC

-Dr. Danielle K. McCamey, DNP, CRNP, ACNP-BC