One of the first four graduates from the University of Arizona College of Nursing’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) program, Niki Putzar-Davis, MSN, ACNP-BC, embodies all the qualities that make our Wildcat Nurses great. Since earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 1992, she has worked continuously in hospital and nursing home settings as a hospitalist nurse practitioner. In 2009 she graduated from the College’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. Most recently, her thirst for knowledge led her to return to the College to pursue her Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification, because, as she says, “I still enjoy reading and learning about most everything.”
Outside of her professional duties, Putzar-Davis has served for many years as a mentor to the College’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) students as a clinical preceptor.
This year, her dedication to her students earned her the UArizona Alumni Association’s 2021 Wildcat Career Champion award, which will be given at Homecoming 2021. The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to furthering the careers of Wildcats through mentoring, hiring or other career-related assistance.
“The Wildcat Career Champion Award is an affirmation that service to our profession, and mentoring students is important to the UA College of Nursing. I am shocked and grateful that my fellow nursing and nurse practitioner colleagues, and UA nursing scholars thought so highly of me,” ~ Niki Putzar-Davis, MSN, ACNP-BC
“Ms. Putzar-Davis has been serving as a preceptor for our ACNP students -- now, AGACNP students -- for more than a decade,” says Interim AGACNP Specialty Coordinator, Shu-Fen Wung , PhD, MS, RN, ACNP-BC, FAAN. “Students have valued greatly Ms. Putzar-Davis's clinical skills and her willingness to teach. This is particularly helpful when under the current pandemic and our specialty is facing challenges placing students in the clinical settings. Her drive for knowledge brought her back to UA CON for additional Psych mental training. It is someone like Ms. Putzar-Davis who helps us achieving our education mission at the ground level.”
Why did you choose to pursue a career in nursing?
When I entered the College of Nursing, I was actually completing my BS in Psychology. There was a significant nursing shortage at the time and the College of Nursing was offering special transfers into the nursing program, so during my last semester of Psychology, I transferred into nursing. I also had a friend who had recently died from a cardiac complication, which was a big shock to our group of friends. I was very interested in the pathophysiology of what happened, which also piqued my interest into the study of nursing and medicine.
What drew you to the UArizona College of Nursing?
I grew up in Tucson, and was already a student at the University of Arizona. I never really thought about going to any other College of Nursing, but I learned quickly of the College's high standing in the nation for nursing education. It was very impressive that we had nurse scholars and theorists developing their ideas and writing at the College back then as well as currently!
What drew you to the NP program?
I had been a nurse for about 10 years, when a nursing friend and colleague was entering the UA CONs Acute Care NP program. She urged me to apply to NP school and I knew that my interest was in the care of hospitalized patients, so the Acute Care NP program suited me. In fact, the ‘hospitalist’ role was really coming into its own profession at a time when family practice physicians were still making hospital rounds before going to their offices. It was a difficult transitional time since hospital medicine was quickly becoming very complex.
How would you describe your experience over the course of the program?
My experience as a preceptor with the UA College of Nursing program has been terrific. The NP students are very bright, caring and have such incredible clinical experience even as new NP students. I love mentoring the new NP students; to show them the beginnings of what critical thinking and professional documentation looks like.
What makes you proudest about the work you do?
I am very proud that nurse practitioners have gained the respect and trust from our physician colleagues, who I respect and admire, by demonstrating excellent knowledge, skills, and caring that nurse practitioners bring to patients every day.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for the Wildcat Career Champion Award?
The Wildcat Career Champion Award is an affirmation that service to our profession, and mentoring students is important to the UA College of Nursing. I am shocked and grateful that my fellow nursing and nurse practitioner colleagues, and UA nursing scholars thought so highly of me.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hopes for the future are that the nursing profession continues to attract and grow intelligent and caring nurses and nurse practitioners. The nursing profession has always been a completely fascinating, challenging and wonderful career, and you'll never work with better people than nurses!