Dr. Susan Doyle-Lindrud serves as the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia University’s School of Nursing. She is also the Director of the Doctor of Nursing practice Program at the University. Her research interests involve genitourinary oncology, with a focus on prostate, bladder, and renal cancer.
How did you get involved in a career in nursing?
There was no epiphany moment in my decision to pursue a nursing career. As my mother is a nurse and my father is a physician, I grew up listening to patient related issues at the dinner table each night. Moving towards the nursing profession seemed natural at the time. When I completed my nursing education and started my career, it was only then that I began to realize that this profession offered many different settings in which to work, such as inpatient, ambulatory, school based, etc., and many different paths such as the advanced practice role!
How did you become interested in genitourinary oncology?
My first nurse practitioner position was in a comprehensive cancer center. I was asked to work in varied groups in medical oncology, but found myself most interested in the genitourinary cancer population and frustrated by the lack of treatment options. This lead to my involvement in developing clinical trials and I eventually took on the role of Associate Director of Clinical Research. I was charged with the task of verifying that a clinical trial option was available to all patients coming into the clinic with a genitourinary cancer. Through this, I continued to maintain a busy clinical practice. It was a very gratifying role!
What has been the most memorable experience of your Nursing Career?
The years that I spent in the role of Associate Director of Clinical Research, developing clinical trials and bringing in exciting cooperative group and pharmaceutical trials into the CINJ clinic setting, has been a very memorable experience. During this time, there has been an impressive increase in available cancer treatments for the GU cancer population, giving patients many options!
What are the biggest challenges and most gratifying parts of being an Assistant Dean of a Nursing School?
As the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, I work with the faculty to develop teaching assignments with a goal of maintaining equity in workload among faculty. This can be very challenging due to the subtle nuances of course delivery.
CUSON has impressive faculty and the most gratifying part of this role is meeting with individual faculty to discuss courses or programs, hear what innovations they are bringing into the classroom and supporting them in meeting their goals!
What are two or three Changes would you like to see in how Nurses are trained today?
I am fully supportive of the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report. The profession has too many entry points. A bachelor’s degree should be the minimum criteria to enter the nursing profession and a doctoral degree should be the entry point for all advanced practice nurses. It is time to re-examine nursing licensure exams and certification exams. As the profession increases educational standards, the licensure and certification exams need to reflect this higher level of education. One example of a certification exam that recognizes a higher level of education is the American Board of Comprehensive Care (ABCC) certification exam. This exam is for advanced practice nurses having attained the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. This exam, developed by the ABCC working with the National Board of Medical Examiners, and modeled off of the USMLE step 3, tests medical knowledge and understanding of the clinical sciences considered essential for the practice of providing comprehensive care. Passing this exam designates one a Diplomate of Comprehensive Care.
What advice do you give for students thinking about pursuing a career in nursing?
It is clear that most people outside of the profession do not understand what a nurse is or the differing roles of a nurse with advanced education. This is further muddied through a terrible media portrayal of the profession. Students who have had interactions with the healthcare system tend to have a better understanding. It is important that those in the profession clarify the role with a student interested, and review the different paths one can take based on educational attainment. The opportunities available to nurses are varied and numerous!