When University of Arizona College of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student Jesus "JP" Prado accepts his diploma this December, he will be celebrating a year that was marked by not one but three significant achievements: in addition to earning his DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) specialty degree, he was recently promoted to Major in the Air Force Reserves, and received the Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding and Invaluable Military Service.
“As a student, Mr. Prado has a curious mind and is eager to learn,” says his UArizona faculty mentor, Assistant Professor Sara Edmund, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC. “During his time in my classes, he separated himself from colleagues through his meticulous work ethic, attention to detail, and drive to complete work in a precise yet expeditious manner. Of all the students I have been fortunate enough to mentor, he stands out as one of the most forward-thinking, motivated individuals with whom I am acquainted.”
Originally hailing from the Los Angeles area, Prado has been in the Air Force reserves for 12 years, stationed at Luke Air Force Base as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) -- highly trained reservists who are assigned to active-component units and government agencies. “I joined the Air Force reserve in 2010,” Prado says, who now calls Mesa Ariz. Home. “I’ve been a Chaplain since then, and I’ve been chasing education in between those duties. I have five kids, and a very supportive family that makes this craziness possible.”
“Being in the Air Force Chaplaincy, a lot of what we do is counseling and having the ability to clinically recognize when there are issues going on that are beyond the spiritual issues that people deal with. I felt that by me having extra education I’d be making a better chaplain for the Air Force, but also within the community," ~ JP Prado, DNP PMHNP specialty student
We caught up with Prado recently to learn more about his nursing journey, his research focus and his hopes for a bright future.
What led you to pursue a career in nursing?
I started off in an ambulance when I was 18, handling 911 calls in L.A. I got my feet wet with that, but I went and pursued my ministry before nursing. Albert Schweitzer, an influential medical doctor and theologian whose books are a staple in modern seminary, felt that giving back was so important. He had an illustrious career as an academic and as a physician, and I thought early on that I would want to do something like that. I didn’t go to medical school, but for me it was the best way to tie it all together – connect the ambulance to the nursing and the nursing to the DNP, which I’ll be finishing here in December.
What drew you to the PMHNP Specialty?
Definitely mental health. Being in the Air Force Chaplaincy, a lot of what we do is counseling and having the ability to clinically recognize when there are issues going on that are beyond the spiritual issues that people deal with. I felt that by me having extra education I’d be making a better chaplain for the Air Force, but also within the community. I want to do what I can to make sure my kids have the best future in the areas that they’re going to live, so that they have a good chance of having successful, thriving lives.
What has been your favorite part of the program?
I love learning, so for me, anything that is going to challenge me, make me more informed to be able to think about unique situations better critically. The DNP program exposes you to a lot of that because it’s such a broad program. You learn so many things, from informatics to leadership to the specialties, and then the core requirements like pharmacology and pathophysiology. It's comprehensive and at the same time concentration focused. I think that’s probably what I enjoyed the most about it.
What was the focus of your Quality Improvement Project?
It was on smoking behaviors and treatment considerations to improve psychiatric provider knowledge. The reason that’s meaningful and unique is that in the community, particularly with vulnerable community members dealing with issues like schizophrenia, substance abuse or bi-polar disorders, the medications they’re prescribed that have high efficacy for treatment outcomes are significantly impacted on the pharmaco-dynamic level when they smoke cigarettes.
When you look at national trends of smoking, it’s gone down in the U.S., but smoking has an 80-90% prevalence with schizophrenics and people with bipolar disorders. When they smoke it decreases the efficacy of their medications because the smoke – it’s called a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon – causes the CYP450 enzyme to hyper metabolize in medication. They might be doing everything that they’re supposed to but they’re not improving because it can all come down to that little cigarette really throwing off the medication as much as 50% of it not having its intended clinical outcome.
I get to have a meaningful impact on immediate treatment outcome but also on the community, because people aren’t treated, they’re going to end up in the emergency room, they’re going to end up on the streets, so it does have a real impact.
What are your plans after you graduate this December?
I got hired at my clinical site where I did my Quality Improvement project, Bayless Integrated Healthcare here in Mesa. I applied for a post-doctoral research fellowship, so I’ll find out whether I was accepted for that in April of 2023. My goals are to move into doctoral level academia, so I have put that bug in Dr. Edmund’s ear. I teach currently as an adjunct at Grand Canyon University, at the undergraduate level. Ultimately, I would like to to do community focused work, but also going into the schools to then pay it forward to the next generation.
Do you have any words of wisdom for students considering following in your footsteps?
Number one, be humble. Number two, use a calendar. Number three, work hard.
What does it mean to you to be a Wildcat Nurse?
I am very proud to be part of a state university, especially the University of Arizona. When people say, ‘Where’d you go to school?’ it’s great to identify that I’ve gone to a school that is established, reputable, and then regarding the program, competitive and selective. To me it means that I’m invested within my state. At the same time there’s a little bit of bravado with regard to the alma mater. Bear Down!