The World Health Assembly and the American Nurses Association dubbed 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives, highlight the challenging conditions they often face, and advocate for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce. In the coming months, the University of Arizona College of Nursing will be highlighting the contributions of nurses in the community as well as our students, past and present. We couldn’t begin with a better example than Wildcat Nurse Dorothy Chinyere Igwe, who earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice with a Family Nurse Practitioner (DNP-FNP) specialty in 2016 and is currently enrolled as a DNP-Psychiatric Mental Health Practitioner (PMHNP) student.
Originally from Nigeria, Igwe began her career at Obafemi Awolowo University where she obtained her BSN in 1996. Subsequently, she obtained three associate degrees: Registered nurse (1994), Registered midwife (1994) and Registered public health nurse (1996). Her first job after graduating was working as an industrial nurse for ExxonMobil before going in to spend the next eight years working in OBGYN and as a labor/delivery nurse at various Nigerian hospitals.
Why did you pursue a career in nursing?
It was my passion from when I finished high school to be of help to people. Nothing makes me happier than when I put a smile on my patient’s face.
How did nursing school in Nigeria differ from US nursing school?
Universities prepare nurses with a bachelor’s degree, and in the process, you are also trained in midwifery. To be licensed as a nurse in Nigeria, one is also mandated to be licensed as a midwife, which allows hospitals to utilize the same nurse in various job postings in a given hospital. Midwifery and nursing are two certifications and you have to have both in order to get a job. The advantage, speaking for my own training, is that I got a job right away.
"It was my passion from when I finished high school to be of help to people. Nothing makes me happier than when I put a smile on my patient’s face.” ~ Dorothy Chinyere Igwe, DNP-FNP, Current DNP-PMHNP student
How do the U.S. and Nigerian health care systems differ?
The Nigerian health care system is not set up the same as the American health care system. The Nigerian system mostly has a hospital-based set-up. In the hospital, there will be a clinic and there will also be a hospital that also has an outpatient clinic and in in-patient hospital. There will also be an emergency room, just like Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. Nurses get trained to rotate from one unit to the other inside the same hospital, which makes it handy for somebody to have qualifications to allow them to go in different workspaces.
Tell us about the work that nurse midwives do.
In the hospital setting in Nigeria, a nurse midwife will also have the OBGYN section. They will care for pregnant women who come every two to four weeks for checkups, and they will care for non-pregnant women that go for GYN. I also worked in the labor-delivery room as a labor and delivery nurse, because midwives are able to deliver babies under the supervision of an obstetrician.
Why did you choose UArizona Nursing to pursue both your DNP-NP and your DNP-PMHNP?
When I emigrated to the United States, I did my boards and passed. I worked for a little bit before deciding that I needed to move forward with my career and my profession. When I was looking for schools, I applied to several universities but the one that really resonated with me was UArizona. I was very fortunate to attend UArizona Nursing because it helped me become well-rounded. It was rigorous but it paid off in the end.
What advantages will earning a PMHNP have on your career?
I currently work at a correctional facility and there are a lot of challenges here among the inmates. They are stressed and depressed, and there are a lot of psychiatric issues. Being a family nurse practitioner, I see myself as being holistic in my care. I will need to be certified as a psych mental health nurse practitioner. That was my motivation to go back to school and be able to provide more comprehensive care.
What are the most important qualities a nurse can cultivate?
Being resilient and knowing what you want in life. I’m passionate about helping others and being innovative in my care. I learned that from UArizona Nursing. I want to help as many people as I can.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope that one day I’ll use the education I’ve received to teach in a college of nursing. I want to be innovative in the way that classroom instructions are delivered. I come from a different culture, so I know that when we’re in the classroom there are different ways of personalizing learning to suit the individual needs of the students. I want to create an environment that is conducive to learning, that encourages you to be an independent and motivated learner. I want to impart that to my students when I finally find a place to teach.