The Long and Winding Road
Often, future nurses feel an inherent calling to the profession, knowing long before they enter college—or at the very least during their years of higher education—that nursing is the area of health care they wish to pursue. Tara Whitmire wasn’t a part of that population. Initially pre-med, she switched programs to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Iowa State … yet, she still felt that something about her career path wasn’t quite right. “I knew I wanted to do something that involved caring for people,” she explained. “I finished my psychology degree only to realize, at graduation, that nursing was my true calling.”
After refocusing and completely dedicating herself to the pursuit of an education in nursing, Whitmire earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After working as an RN for a couple years, the “learning bug” bit Whitmire again and she decided a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) was a logical next step. A few years after obtaining her master’s and working as a nurse practitioner in a cardiology clinic, she decided to complete the higher ed nursing circuit by pursuing a doctorate degree (a Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP) from the University of Iowa.
“UI’s College of Nursing prepared me to be a global thinker. I was taught to think outside of the box and to utilize resources appropriately. I think these are all important concepts to embrace in the health care industry,” said Whitmire. “As an ISU graduate, I felt like I was cheating on my alma mater by even considering the University of Iowa; however, a colleague graduated from the college’s first DNP class and raved about the faculty and the education she received. The program was a great fit for me; it was online and I didn’t need to be on campus too many times, so I enrolled. I can cheer for the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes with no regrets!”
Whitmire, who graduated with her DNP in 2011, continues to practice in the area of cardiology. She is a board certified family nurse practitioner and licensed as an advanced practice registered nurse in Nebraska and Iowa. She also serves as the membership chair for the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses.
“Since joining the nursing profession, I knew that I wanted to obtain a terminal degree and I’m thankful that the UI has such a prestigious DNP program. I love to practice and would much rather put research into practice rather than perform my own research. I am doing exactly that with my DNP degree.”
As for current or future nursing students, Whitmire counsels that while nursing is a challenging career that can make you feel an array of emotions, it’s definitely worth it.
“There are so many avenues you can pursue, from birth to death and everything in between. When you find your passion, run with it and don’t look back. You can inspire yourself and others to do and be their best and there is nothing more rewarding than that!”
While the initial process of venturing into the nursing profession wasn’t without a few twists and turns, Whitmire recognizes that the journey was a necessity and brought things into focus.
“I took a long path to get where I am today. A quote by author Douglas Adams sums it up best for me: ‘I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.’”
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