"As a Family Nurse Practitioner, the most important part of my job is to listen to patients. I try to listen and offer them kindness during tough times."
Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Tania Centra has traveled to many parts of the United States in her professional capacity. With a nursing degree from Laurentian University, she headed south of the border to accept an RN position with Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Texas where she discovered a love of pediatric nursing. Inspired to expand her professional opportunities, Centra earned an MS in nursing from Texas A&M University for Family Nurse Practitioner certification, an option not then available in Canada.
Leaving practice for several years to care for three children, Centra renewed her nursing career, eventually bringing twenty years of experience to her faculty role at River University in New Hampshire. She also works part-time at the Student Health Services clinic on campus where she enjoys treating teens and young adults.
Tania enrolled in the UNH Online DNP program, graduating in Spring 2022. Since summer classes shorten the overall program length, the online modality made it possible to balance her teaching, clinical hours and family needs with her academic work.
"UNH is an excellent school and the DNP curriculum skills apply to my daily work. As an educator, I was inspired by the nursing faculty with their industry reputations and long-standing dedication to teaching. Making connections with students from diverse backgrounds was wonderful but I especially enjoyed the leadership class that encourages each student to examine their individual qualities and create their personal mission to use as a guide to future career choices."
For her DNP Scholarly Project, Tania initiated a quality improvement project at Healthcare for the Homeless through Catholic Medical Center where the at-risk population has below-average colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates that reflect multiple barriers to health information and provider access.
With the help of her practice mentor and faculty colleague at River University, Dr. Catherine Fogg, within three months Centra succeeded in improving the CRC low screening rate from 33.7% to 41.5%. Due to the cost, preparation time, and transportation barriers of the colonoscopy procedure for those in unstable circumstances, some average-risk patients opted for a simpler (although less accurate) testing option. She hopes that, with a team-based model of care using the tools that were developed, Healthcare for the Homeless providers and nurses will continue the work of improving CRC screening rates and health quality for this at-risk population. As a medical professional, Centra feels compelled to spread the word about the need for preventive colorectal cancer screening.
"I cannot stress enough the importance of regular colorectal cancer screening for everyone over the age of forty-five and even earlier for high-risk adults. Although simple tests are available, colonoscopy is the gold standard because it allows for the removal of pre-cancerous polyps. As the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, early detection is critical. For example, at Stage One detection, the CRC 5-year survival rate is greater than 90% as compared to the 14% survival rate at Stage Four. Screening saves lives!"
Pointing to the well-known “burnout” exacerbating the shortage of registered nurses, Tania expresses concern about the quality of patient care and longevity of nursing professionals. She believes that using a team-based approach to care spreads the workload and allows more time to focus on preventive healthcare rather than disease management. Student, teacher, or practitioner, Tania never loses sight of the most essential ingredient of the healing process – kindness.
Written by Gwendolyn Goguelet