In this month’s NP profile, we feature Kendra Broussard, DNP, NNP-BC, who is a neonatal nurse practitioner in a neonatal intensive care unit in Augusta, Georgia. Dr Broussard is the founder and president of Leaders and Adolescents Uniting to Navigate Careers in Healthcare (LAUNCH). LAUNCH is an organization geared towards providing minority students and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds with early exposure to health care career choices.

Q: What experience helped determine your career path?

Dr Broussard: I only had one “guiding” moment that helped me choose my career. I don’t think I truly had a “determining” moment. I participated in a program during my senior year of high school and during one of the lectures, a nurse spoke about her career field. That was my “guiding” moment when I decided I would try nursing instead of computer science. That’s how simple my decision was to pursue nursing. It was and is still a great decision for me.

Q: Who was your mentor in the NP field? 

Dr Broussard: I didn’t have a mentor while I was in my NP program. I had professors and coworkers that I could ask questions but I didn’t truly have a mentor that I could relate to, depend on, and learn from. This is why I believe organizations, such as DNPs of Color, are so important.

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Editor’s note: DNPs of Color is a national organization whose mission is to “increase diversity in doctoral studies, clinical practice, and leadership for nurses.”

Q: What aspect of your profession is most rewarding?

Dr Broussard: I know that I am extremely biased when it comes to this next statement but I have the best patients! I have the privilege and honor of taking care of critically ill infants immediately after birth. The most rewarding part of this is that I get to see their growth over time. It’s truly remarkable to see a 1-pound baby develop into a healthy baby at the time of discharge. I get to develop and foster a partnership and relationships with their families. It’s a pleasure to make a difference in the lives of others every day at work.

Q: What experiences drove you to create LAUNCH?

Dr Broussard: Early during my undergraduate education, I realized there was a disparity between myself and other students’ exposure and knowledge of health care topics. I was always a high-performing student but it was clear that I was functioning from a few steps behind. I believe that was because I didn’t consider health care as a career field until my senior year of high school. I didn’t have exposure to [the] possibilities [of careers in health care] and the things I could be doing to prepare [for that career]. Because I also had classmates who had similar experiences, I created LAUNCH in 2017 to become a pathway for students to be exposed to health care professions as early as kindergarten and to continue to engage in health care knowledge-building activities by participating in LAUNCH programs through middle school, high school, and even college. Exposure and mentorship are truly key!

Q: What can you tell us about LAUNCH’s work with underrepresented minority students?

Dr Broussard: LAUNCH is the only early-exposure health care pipeline program in our metropolitan area [in Augusta, Georgia], serving more than 1200 students to date. LAUNCH programs provide college readiness, leadership development, mentoring, post-secondary planning, skills building, workforce development, and health care service education with hands-on health care and STEM experiences. Our students have great outcomes in our programs and we are dedicated to continued success.

LAUNCH Camp, LAUNCH Academy, and LAUNCH Afterschool encourage interest in pursuing a career in health care by actively engaging students in research-based curriculum and hands-on activities. LAUNCH Scholarship assists in the cost of students’ education in pursuit of a health care career.

LAUNCH strives to continue meeting the needs of the underserved and underrepresented in our community by providing LAUNCH programs free of charge to all students.

Q: What advice would you give to a young person of color entering the workforce?

Dr Broussard: Dig deep! I think it’s very important to create a mindset that no matter what room you enter, you are supposed to be there. In an ideal world, our work environments would foster diversity, inclusiveness, and various styles of professional development. However, that is not always happening in our workplaces. Therefore, it is important to embrace new opportunities with self-compassion and gratitude. Knowledge will come but that inner confidence to “show up” as your unique, diverse self is important. I have a message that I place on all of my LAUNCH students’ notebooks and it is “Who I am is ENOUGH and it’s important that the world gets to see my authentic self.”

Q: How do you prevent/manage burnout? What do you do for fun?

Dr Broussard: I’m a great proponent of work-life balance. I ensure that I’m respectful of my time and others’ time. I am very organized and I am very intentional about setting aside time for life activities that I enjoy outside of work. I enjoy traveling and creating memories with family. Those moments in my life are refreshing.

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

Dr Broussard: I wish I knew more about the business, logistics, legalities, and politics of the NP role. I would encourage all NP students to research the laws within their state and compare the laws in various states that they may consider working in.