In honor of National NP Week, The Clinical Advisor is featuring nurse practitioners (NPs) who are advancing the profession. Today we celebrate Danielle McCamey, DNP, CRNP, ACNP-BC, FCCP, who is the founder and president of DNPs of Color (DOC), a nursing organization with a mission to serve the nursing community through networking, mentorship, and advocacy to increase diversity in doctoral studies, clinical practice, and leadership. She also serves as chief advanced practice provider in preanesthesia, and senior nurse practitioner in critical care medicine. 

Q: How long have you been in practice? Has your specialty changed during this time?

Dr McCamey: I’ve been in advanced practice since 2011 and a nurse since 2003. My career in nursing started in postanesthesia care and then I transitioned to medical ICU nursing and fell deeper in love with critical care medicine. I appreciate a good adrenaline rush and I enjoy the dynamic nature of critical care in that one day you are running around doing everything to save a life and then another you are ushering patients and families through the end-of-life process. 

After a couple of years at the bedside, my Great Uncle Mike encouraged me to pursue advanced practice, he expressed that the tide of health care was changing in that it was embracing NPs and that I should get in while the transition was happening.

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Q:  What experience(s) helped determine your career path? 

Dr McCamey: My interest in nursing was inspired by my mother who would take me along with her during her home health care assignments. I would watch the attentiveness and care that she provided with each client and the significant difference she made in their everyday lives. I would often share with her that I wanted to be like her when I grew up and she encouraged me that I was more than capable to be a nurse and she expected me to pick up where she left off in education and do more! And that I did. 

I went back for my Masters of Science in acute care and convinced myself I was never going back to school until one night shift when one of my mentors, Bim Akintade, PhD, MBA, MHA, ACNP-BC, NEA-BC, FAANP, planted the seed that I should go back to get my doctorate. I refused because I initially could not see the value in getting a DNP. An opportunity came my way to go back and thus began my journey toward obtaining my DNP in 2015.

After some time I began to see and appreciate the value of having a DNP.  Being DNP-prepared expands your network and knowledge of the impact you can make in nursing practice. Most DNP-prepared nurses are still in clinical practice, so it enables us to keep a pulse on the current health care issues, our DNP education also informs us of systems, cultures, and policies giving us another perspective on how to create creative solutions from the systems perspective and translate it into practice. 

Q: What experience(s) led you to found DNPs of Color?

Dr McCamey: It was during my doctoral studies that I founded DNPs of Color (DOC). I was the only Black woman in my cohort at the start of my program. I felt the need to have community and support from those who had similar life experiences as a person of color pursuing their DNP. I couldn’t find an established organization, so I put together a FaceBook group that grew beyond my wildest dreams. So many others flocked to this group with similar stories of having experienced racism or discrimination or who needed a safe space to share, find mentors, and network. We evolved from a Facebook group to a nonprofit organization in 2018 and officially became operational in 2020. We now have nearly 1800 members in our private community. DOC is a nursing organization where our mission is to serve our community through networking, mentorship, and advocacy to increase diversity in doctoral studies, clinical practice, and leadership. 

DNPs of Color is unique because our community brings a richness of diversity and inclusivity, we have a variety of dynamic leaders that distinctively position us to be influential in transforming nursing practice.

The social and political events that further exposed the permeation of racism in health care, underscored the urgency to increase diversity in the health care workforce. As more nurses of color pursue their DNPs and institutions transition to DNP entry-level programs, there will be and has been an exponential increase in DNP-prepared nursing professionals. This positions DNPs of Color as the premier organization that focuses on and supports the voice of this community of nurses. We intend to create opportunities and cultivate environments that will help inspire, empower, and transform the landscape of nursing to include more diversity that will ultimately increase our progress toward health equity.

Q:  What are your goals as president of DNPs of Color? 

Dr McCamey: Since we are a startup, having been operational since May 2020, my goals are to continue to strengthen our foundation, sustainability, and solidify our brand to be the premier organization that builds a community, elevates the voice, and represents the collective interests of DOCs. Our top organizational goals for this upcoming year are membership transition, fundraising, and programming. We just hosted our first virtual conference where we had over 240 individuals registered and had dynamic and powerful speakers, with Kenya Beard, EdD, AGACNP-BC, CNE, ANEF, FAAN, as keynote. It was then I could see the energy, excitement, and power DOCs has as a community and that we will be making substantial waves not only in our community but also within the nursing profession.

Q: Who is/was your mentor in the NP field? 

Dr McCamey: When I started off as an NP, I was fortunate to start in Surgical Critical Care Services and our team has some amazing practitioners. I owe a lot of my clinical practice development to Bimbola Akintade, PhD, MBA, MHA, ACNP-BC, NEA-BC, FAANP, Thomas VanDruff, MSN, ACNP-BC, and Anson Brown, PA-C.

Q: How do you avoid burnout? 

Dr McCamey: Nightly binaural beats have helped me to calm my mind so that I can sleep. I’m starting to become more intentional with how I choose to spend my time and energy, and now I’m feeling more confident and empowered in my clinical and professional practice to consistently choose things that align with my personal mission and passion in life, which is to pave more ways for nurses of color to have access to professional and educational opportunities in nursing. I’m finding time to enjoy the simple things in life. Also, asking for help and communicating your needs as well as honoring/supporting things/activities that support your mental health is essential. We can’t pour from an empty cup!

Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew coming out of NP school? 

Dr McCamey: The value of networking and having more than one mentor. I wish I had done more networking earlier in my career to expand my connections with other influential nursing leaders. However, I will say I’m definitely making up for lost time by making networking a daily goal. 

I can’t stress the importance of having not only 1 mentor, but more than 1. It’s nice to have a primary mentor as well as those who help cultivate you as a leader, scholar, and nursing professional.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Dr McCamey: Find your passion in life, and make sure you honor it in all that you do with your time, space, and energy! Do not let your circumstances define the final course of your life direction. Don’t forget to have fun and dance like no one is watching!