“I enjoy building relationships with my patients in a partnership to achieve better health,” says Dayle Sharp, Clinical Associate Professor and Program Director of the UNH Online FNP program. “I identify patients by their names, not by their health conditions.”
A nursing graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Sharp earned a Ph.D. and a DNP from the University of Texas-El Paso, a Master’s Certificate in Public Health from the University of Texas Houston, and a Master of Nursing FNP from Idaho State University. During her tenure at the University of Texas-El Paso, she worked in an interprofessional conglomeration on the US-Mexico border, practiced in both primary care and emergency settings, and managed a research clinic.
The tapestry of her long nursing career centers around rural health care. Dayle was previously a National Health Service Corps Scholar and will serve as President of the International Rural Nursing Organization starting August 2022. Her FNP career began in a rural Idaho community of fewer than two hundred people.
“Working at the only clinic in the area, I saw patients with medical complaints of every description, visited many of them in their homes, and drove long miles traveling to women’s health clinics in rotating locations. During those years I administered chronic and acute care, set broken legs, managed cardiac arrests, and coordinated helicopter hospital transports. Nurses who enjoy the full spectrum of patient care and believe in the power of preventive medicine will embrace the exciting role of Family Nurse Practitioner.”
Practicing comes with its own rewards as patients offer their thanks, hugs, and invitations to family events, fueling Sharp’s compelling desire to make an impact. Underscoring the Chinese proverb that if you save a life, you are responsible for it, Dayle admits that the faces of patients whose lives she has saved remain acutely clear in her memory.
Inspired by an instructor who worked with the World Health Organization, Sharp feels energized by the one-on-one rapport in both in-class and online teaching as well as precepting for students doing field internships. At one point, not only did she interview every incoming student, but she also insisted on meeting their families to convey the collective level of support required as each of them began their commitment to a career in nursing.
Dayle believes that distance learning is an excellent avenue for nursing students to access education from the comfort and convenience of their own environment and for scheduling their study times. To ensure an optimal learning experience for her students, Sharp pursues periodic training in online pedagogy.
“In the physical classroom, a lot of conversation revolves around social topics while distance learning discussions extend past the course material. When a student posts a comment or a reference other students build on it, creating a record for future review. This disciplined approach sets a high level of learning that appeals to nursing professionals.”
Treating patients across their life span requires broad-reaching competencies that take time and training to master but the MSN FNP opens the door to an array of choices, including women’s health care, school nursing, and public health.
“Our students graduate with a standard of training that translates into opportunities for collaborative work and their new career avenues are boundless.”
With her interest in rural health issues, Dayle appreciates the advantages of telehealth; without the stress of organizing a long ride or a struggle with ambulatory or respiratory issues, the patient is more relaxed and forthcoming. Nothing can replace the physical examination but the advantages of a virtual visit for a comprehensive review and preventive care are a huge benefit to both patient and practitioner.
Sharp believes that if all states licensed FNPs to practice independently, their services would command greater recognition and respect across the country. Based on her extensive experience in family health, she feels the country needs a renewed focus on public health with its concurrent emphasis on prevention.
“Due to the current national focus of treating illness rather than preventing it, the United States spends more money on healthcare than any other industrialized country, in turn creating an enormous cost to patients while generating enormous income for critical services. In the rural setting where patients often consult a provider unfamiliar with the rural culture, the result is a low level of trust in medical services. For many Americans, the ripple effect of fluctuations in public health funding translates to limits in access to healthcare.”
Acknowledging that every practitioner needs time to unwind and maintain their internal balance, Dayle enjoys outdoor activities, stained glass projects, and creating hand-made quilts for her circle of friends and family. However, her overarching priorities are her daughter, granddaughters, and two active dogs.
Written by Gwendolyn Goguelet