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Otolaryngology Nurse Achieves Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

Otolaryngology Nurse Achieves Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

Congratulations to Kate McDonough, RN, DNP, who has earned nursing’s highest academic distinction

Science and medicine interested Kate McDonough from an early age. Those interests led her to pursue a pre-med concentration at Boston College. Along the way, however, a couple of life-changing experiences helped her to identify nursing as her true calling. It’s a field in which she’s excelled both clinically and academically, recently achieving the highest academic distinction in nursing practice: the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

While she was still in high school, Kate’s father became ill. “I was impressed with the quality and compassion of the nursing care provided to him during his hospitalizations and ultimately, his hospice care,” she said. Her decision to enter nursing was solidified during her senior year at BC, when she shadowed a nurse practitioner. “I realized that this was a profession that blended medicine and empathy,” she explained. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from BC, she went on to obtain her Master of Science in Nursing from the MGH Institute of Health Professions.

In 2007, Kate joined the BMC team as a nurse practitioner. Working in the Department of Otolaryngology, she realized how much she enjoyed the combination of medicine and surgery. “I had never before realized the extent of ENT practice,” she said. “I eventually took on a new role in the department as the Head and Neck Surgical Oncology NP.” Today, Kate works very closely with Dr. Scharukh Jalisi in the Division of Head and Neck Surgery, Surgical Oncology, and Skull Base Surgery.

For Kate, who is a strong advocate of lifelong learning, pursuing the DNP degree (which she did full-time, in addition to her clinical work, over the course of three years) was a logical next step. “We have a healthcare landscape that’s constantly changing. Science continues to evolve and promote innovative technologies,” she said. “NPs need to be prepared to improve clinical practice and patient outcomes, perform research, and take on leadership roles.”

The DNP degree remains relatively rare in a clinical setting, according to Nancy Gaden, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “The goal of the degree program is to prepare nurses not only for advanced clinical practice, but also for enhanced roles in health care system management, and greater involvement in health policy,” she said. She anticipates that more and more nurses will choose to attain this terminal degree in their profession. “In addition to the DNP degree, we are thrilled that our BMC nurses - at all levels of the organization - are choosing to further their education.”

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nursing is moving in the direction of other health professions, such as medicine (MD), dentistry (DDS), pharmacy (PharmD), psychology (PsyD), physical therapy (DPT), and audiology (AudD), all of which offer practice doctorates.

For Kate, obtaining the DNP degree underscores her commitment to a profession in which it’s just as important to use your heart as it is to use your mind. “What I enjoy most is connecting with patients who require long-term surveillance and care, and establishing relationships that allow them to feel comfortable contacting me with any questions or concerns,” she said. “I believe you can tell a lot about a society by how it treats its most vulnerable members, and I am proud to be a part of the BMC community providing care to all those in need.”

We congratulate Kate McDonough and all of our outstanding BMC nurses, who are making positive contributions to the field, and real differences in the lives of our patients, each and every day.

To learn more about head and neck surgery at BMC, visit the Department of Otolaryngology’s website.