Tiffany Lynch grew up in several small communities on the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico. “Our culture is matriarchal so ‘home’ is Jeddito, Arizona – a small community of a few hundred people surrounded by Hopi lands and where my mother’s family live currently,” she says. Her passion for making a difference in Indigenous health led her to pursue a career in nursing, but when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she knew she had to further her higher education to further her goals of working in a tribal health facility.
Tell us about your educational journey to the University of Arizona and why you’ve chosen nursing as a career.
My parents both worked for Indian Health Services, and I knew I wanted to work in healthcare. I majored in public health education, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I received an opportunity to matriculate into Pima Community College’s nursing program while I was at the University of Arizona. Recognizing that this was a tremendous opportunity, I accepted the offer. I graduated with my ADN in 2007 and received my BSN in 2010. I have always wanted to further my education. When the pandemic hit and the Navajo Nation was disproportionately affected, I knew that my educational and professional goals couldn’t wait any longer.
“Understanding a patient’s culture, values and lifestyle through lived experience is extremely valuable in a patient-provider relationship, so it is incredibly important for patients to see themselves in their healthcare providers and as members of their communities. It can enhance communication and build trust, which are essential in providing quality care and, ultimately, improving health outcomes," ~ Tiffany Lynch, DNP Student
What appeals to you most about the Doctor of Nursing Practice program?
Indigenous health is very complex and challenging with numerous barriers. As a terminal degree, the DNP program will provide a strong foundation to tackle these problems, to affect change and to serve patients at the highest level.
As a student, who have your biggest role models been?
I have been privileged to work with a tremendous group of people who have dedicated their careers to helping to improve the health and well-being of the Indigenous population in and around Tucson. Their commitment has been the biggest motivator in my pursuit of an advanced nursing degree.
How important it is for patients to see themselves in their healthcare providers and as members of their communities?
Understanding a patient’s culture, values and lifestyle through lived experience is extremely valuable in a patient-provider relationship, so it is incredibly important for patients to see themselves in their healthcare providers and as members of their communities. It can enhance communication and build trust, which are essential in providing quality care and, ultimately, improving health outcomes.
What does Native American Heritage Month mean to you?
Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and embrace our unique cultures and traditions. It is a time to reflect on our rich histories. It is also important for those of other backgrounds to see that we are here, and despite the challenges of our histories, our cultures and traditions continue to thrive.
What does it mean to you to be a Wildcat Nurse?
There is a sense of pride in being a Wildcat Nurse. I know that I am receiving a quality education because the University of Arizona College of Nursing is a respected institution with high standards and a stellar reputation. I am confident that this program will prepare us to be well-informed and well-rounded advanced practice nurses.
What are your future plans?
I am in the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty of the DNP program. My plan is to work in a tribal health facility. There is a strong need for healthcare providers in rural areas but even more so on American Indian reservations. Since the start of my healthcare career, my goal has been to have a positive impact on American Indian health – no matter how small. And that is what I intend to do.