PHOTO: Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor

My name is Zachary Taylor, MSN, CMSRN, PHN, and I am honored to have been awarded the first Charles Hamlin Scholarship. I received my undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, studying studio arts. Later, I decided to pursue a nursing career and obtained a Master of Science in Nursing at Saint Catherine University (Saint Paul, Minnesota). I am currently pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, preparing for an advanced practice role as an Adult-Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist (AG-CNS). I have been a registered nurse at M Health Fairview’s University of Minnesota Medical Center for five years and obtained medical-surgical certification after two years of employment.

I was initially drawn to nursing by the desire to support individuals, families, and communities in their journey toward healing. Since then, I have been most inspired by empowering clients to take control of their health, addressing health disparities, supporting other nurses in their practice, and quality improvement at the system practice level to improve health outcomes. The AG-CNS DNP role was a natural way for me to advance, as it directs advanced practice competencies toward wide-ranging impacts at the individual client, nursing, and system/organizational levels. In my medical-surgical bedside role, I have led several evidence-based quality improvement efforts, such as fall reduction campaigns and an ongoing nursing mentorship program to increase staff satisfaction and reduce turnover within the first year. In my role as a student, I am engaged in several exciting projects. I am currently working as a student research assistant in a community-based participatory research project which partners with Twin Cities African American communities to reduce the risk of stroke. Diabetes is a major health challenge in the United States with greater prevalence among minority groups. Diabetes is also an important risk factor for stroke. My DNP project (nested within this larger study) is a quality improvement project focused on community-centered diabetes prevention education, aiming to increase the overall relevance and impact of diabetes prevention education through community partnership and engagement. Community engagement work has been one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of my DNP program, and I plan to continue partnering with communities far into the future.

My current degree program prepares me for nursing leadership through advanced practice competencies and a systems-oriented approach to health and wellness. Furthermore, the program has given me a robust opportunity to participate in unique community-based research. As a DNP-prepared AG-CNS, I will be able to enhance health outcomes at the patient, nurse and systems levels. In the future, I aim to specialize in diabetes prevention and management, continue to partner with individuals, communities, and underrepresented groups in pursuit of optimal health and wellness, support nurses in their own career pathways, and influence system policy and practice to encourage the best possible outcomes for all people.

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