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The Anthropologist with Advanced Practice Ambitions

Daniel Ewing, Nu’15 loved his social work experiences at community health centers in New York City. But, after working with several RNs and APNs within these environments, he realized advanced practice nursing best reflected the type of care he sought to provide.

“Part of my old job entailed sitting in appointments with patients, and I watched as the nurse practitioners provided care that really respected the autonomy and perspective of each patient,” says Ewing. “I saw my clients actively engaging in their healthcare.”

After graduating with a degree in anthropology (and minors in public health and sexuality studies), Ewing applied his expertise in a variety of jobs, including outreach to people with HIV through Community HealthCorps in Hell’s Kitchen; as a patient navigator for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center; and as a life coach for chronically homeless young people, homeless young people with mental illness and young people transitioning out of foster care at New York City’s largest youth service center, The Door.

“Working at The Door helped me realize the importance of the integration of mental healthcare in every aspect of service provision,” says Ewing. “Most importantly, it helped me realize that if I want to be a good primary care provider, I need to truly understand, provide and refer to solid mental healthcare.”

When he decided he wanted to be a family nurse practitioner, Ewing had a long conversation with an RN colleague. She really encouraged me to pursue the field, but added a caveat: Before I could be a good practitioner, I needed to be a good nurse,” he says. “So, really, that’s what led me to Penn. I like the fact that Penn stresses the importance of bachelor’s-level nursing and encourages students to work as RNs before beginning advanced practice education. I also really appreciate Penn’s focus on research and how easy it has been to get involved in projects around the school.”

Ewing says his experience at Penn Nursing has been positive. He appreciates the college’s focus on evidence-based practice and critical thinking in all situations. He also likes how simulation is integrated into coursework.

“As nerve-wracking as it can be, the high-fidelity rooms and the scenarios the instructors throw us into feel very important,” he explains. “I feel like I’ll be better equipped to handle stressful or complicated situations in the future.”

Ewing says he’s most enjoyed his clinical work and his role as a nursing coordinator at United Community Clinic (UCC), where he focuses on quality improvement and education initiatives.

“It’s been really great to get to know clinical instructors and learn about their trajectories in nursing. Also, it’s awesome to have those same instructors take a vested interest in my education,” notes Ewing. “Many of my clinical instructors have really encouraged me to practice the skills I’ve learned in lab, going out of their way to connect me with specific situations or patients in order to prepare me to be a leader in the field.”

Ewing also values his research experience under the advisement of Nancy Hanrahan, PhD, RN, CS, FAAN, a former Penn Nursing associate professor of nursing.

“I’ve worked on her projects, and I’m currently doing a spin-off project of my own looking at hospitalization outcomes for adolescents and young adults with mental illness as a secondary diagnosis,” he says.

Ewing will graduate with his nursing degree this December, and he hopes to get a job in an emergency department, with a goal of ultimately blending mental health and primary care advanced practice nursing.

“I love the fact that nursing encompasses caring for so many aspects of the human experience – physical, psychological, social and spiritual,” he explains. “I came into the profession because, really above all other professions I looked into, nursing is best equipped to interact with and affect all the intersecting aspects that influence health.”