Nicole Washington Doctor of Health Administration

Nicole Washington began her career with a BSN degree and a job as a nurse in the Air Force.

But she knew there were other things she wanted to accomplish. “I’m a nerd, I like regulatory policies and procedures,” she says, laughing. “I wanted to write policies and run a hospital.”


A Friendly Push

With these goals in mind, she considered her options for getting advanced education. She was able to complete a master’s in health administration, but determined she’d need a doctoral degree to reach the administrative levels she wanted.

As it turned out, Washington knew a unit secretary who also was thinking of getting a doctorate, but the secretary didn’t yet have a bachelor’s. They talked and joked about getting their doctorates together, and then lost touch for a while.

One day, Washington got a call. “We’d gone eight or nine years with no contact,” she says. “And here was the secretary, calling to tell me she’d just finished her doctorate. She told me, ‘Wow, I would have thought you’d have a doctorate by now!’”

She also told Washington that she had gotten her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from Capella University, and that she thought Washington should check into it. More importantly, she told Washington that Capella’s online doctoral program was rigorous and comprehensive.


A Skeptic Turns Believer

Washington was unsure about online schools. She had tried one, but was not happy with it, finding it poorly organized and too simplistic. Even while feeling doubtful, she started looking into Capella’s Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) program. In 2014, she enrolled, and several years later, she was ready to begin her final doctoral capstone project.

Unlike her previous experience, Washington found Capella to be rigorous and intellectually stimulating. “I tell people all the time that Capella is not easy,” she says. “There’s this myth out there about online schools being easy, but the opposite is true at Capella. I do adjunct teaching on the side, so I see classes from both sides, and I can see how strong the foundation is here.”


Out of the Military, Into Hospital Administration

After leaving the Air Force several years ago, Washington went to work in a multifaceted role at a rural hospital in Georgia. As a Director, she oversees risk management, regulatory compliance, patient experience and satisfaction, and infection prevention.

She believes her DHA will open up possibilities of even further advancement at her current workplace. “Already in my DHA program I’ve gained insights about how I can use this new knowledge in my day-to-day work,” she explains. “My hospital is very happy I’m doing this, as is the CEO, who is also working on a DNP at Capella. There’s a lot of growth and potential right here in this job, and I can use the DHA to expand into other areas.”

That doesn’t mean she’s done learning. Once she’s finished the DHA, she hopes to continue on with post-graduate certifications. In the meantime, she plans to stay in contact with the other students she’s met at Capella, from all over the U.S. and even Africa. “I call it a ‘friendship network,’” she says, “and it can’t be beat. We talk frequently, and we learn so much from each other.”



Learn more about Capella’s online doctor of health administration program.