Lisa Destrampe McCarthy began her educational journey with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and spent her early career working in hospitals throughout Minnesota, and later Arizona.
But she felt her education wasn’t complete. “I wanted the full experience,” Destrampe McCarthy says. “I wanted to be able to move forward. I expect to have a long career, and I wanted the ability to try new things.”
Advancing with Education
That desire led Destrampe McCarthy to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a nursing education specialization at Capella University in 2010. She then became a nurse educator in the Banner Health emergency department in Arizona. Even as she was settling into her new position, she was already thinking about her next degree—in part because of encouragement given to her by a Capella faculty member. “The instructor suggested I move on to the doctorate,” she explains. “I got my master’s in spring 2012, took the summer off from school, and started in my Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in fall that year.”
Destrampe McCarthy focused her doctoral studies on nursing leadership and earned her DNP in 2015. She recently returned to Minnesota to become Clinical Manager of the Emergency Department for St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul. “It’s truly a dream position,” she says. “My doctoral dissertation was on relationship-based care as a standard of practice. My work here focuses on that. St. Joseph’s vision and mission match mine.”
It’s a demanding job, but one that she loves, and one for which having her DNP was essential. “I have numerous direct reports, from nurses and EDTs to unit secretaries,” she says. “I work closely with the director making sure everyone has the right equipment, following best practices, and encouraging everyone to find a good work/life balance.”
*Multiple factors lead to career advancement, including experience, specialization, and geography. Capella does not guarantee its graduates will experience any particular career outcome.
The Capella Experience
Destrampe McCarthy chose Capella for her master’s program because it was flexible with her demanding work hours. That flexibility played a part in why she continued on to her DNP at Capella, but she was also familiar with the environment and knew she would thrive in it. “Part of the value of the program—the fun of it—is being able to interact with nurses from different specialties all across the U.S.,” she says. “And the focus on evidence-based practice is so important.”
She’s still in contact with peers she worked with during her master’s and DNP programs. “We’re a close-knit group,” she says. “Health care is truly global, and together we researched what was happening in nursing across the world.”
The DNP taught Destrampe McCarthy something important about the value of education. “Even with my doctorate, I will need to continue learning,” she says. “All over the country, all over the world, there are people contributing new theories and research, and I want to keep up.”
Managing a Doctoral Program
Adding a doctoral program to her demanding career was a significant undertaking. Destrampe McCarthy has some advice for nurses considering making the leap: Go for it. “I’m so proud and humbled by my doctorate,” she says. “And it really does open doors.”
Beyond that, she says, “You have to be dedicated. You must be able to manage your time. Know that you’re going to need to earn your degree; it won’t just be handed to you. But the hard work you put in really does bring rewards.”
She also recommends taking advantage of the resources Capella offers. “Capella has all the resources you need to succeed,” she explains. “The library is excellent. But sometimes you just need a person, whether it’s someone to mentor you in research and writing or help you with time management. Whatever you need, that person is there at Capella.”
Learn more about Capella’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program.