This story is one of a series titled "Profiles of Passion," which features incoming SMU students who have demonstrated their dedication to transforming healthcare in their communities and the world even before their first day of classes. Click here for other stories in the series.
Angela Flowers has big plans. She hopes to influence U.S. healthcare reform and someday assume a leadership position at the World Health Organization.
To help achieve those goals, she just began working toward her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Samuel Merritt University, a degree program designed to produce the profession's future leaders.
While studying for her doctoral degree, Flowers plans to continue tackling the challenging healthcare issue of reducing repeated visits by certain patients to emergency rooms, a practice that strains crisis services.
Reforming healthcare requires finding ways to reduce avoidable emergency visits and hospital care costs, while also improving patient and staff satisfaction, she says.
Flowers took an interest in curtailing ER recidivism during her RN pre-licensure and case management preceptorships in the emergency department at Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center, where she still works part-time.
It became the subject of her capstone project last year for SMU’s Entry-Level Master of Science in Nursing program that proposed case management guidelines for healthcare practitioners to optimize the quality of care for frequent users of emergency departments while also controlling healthcare costs. She says she hopes to expand on that project during her studies in the DNP program with the goal of developing an evidence-based practice implementation to help solve the problem.
It’s also a topic of a pilot study she is working on as a volunteer case manager with the Marin County Health and Human Services that aims to find ways of providing more efficient services to heavy users of healthcare services.
Flowers left a lucrative, 16-year project management consulting career for large healthcare companies to become a nurse.
“It has taken me some time, but I’ve come to understand who I am and what motivates me,” she says.
Flowers traces that watershed moment to 2009 when she traveled to Nicaragua to help a dentist perform exams on children in a community in great need of services.
“What he was doing through hands-on care seemed so meaningful and what I was doing in the U.S., helping large companies become more efficient, seemed empty,” she says. “I needed to help and contribute more.”
Flowers views her decision to pursue an advanced nursing degree as the next step in her plan to becoming a future leader in health care delivery and public policy. She says the skills she learns in the DNP program, combined with her management experience, will enable her to help improve global health.
“This is a second career and what I like to think of as a second chance to meaningfully give back,” says Flowers.