A former instructor believed Kent State University College of Nursing alumna Denise Pacholski, DNP ‘20, APRN, NP-C, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Concentration Coordinator, would excel at teaching nurse practitioner students in the college’s master’s program. Fifteen years later, Pacholski can say that her instructor was absolutely right as she enjoys teaching at the graduate level.  

“People go into nursing and teaching for similar reasons, to help people,” explained Pacholski. “So, it was not a far stretch for me. I was initially drawn to Kent State’s stellar reputation in the community because the college produces wonderful nurses. Teaching reminds me we are all constantly learning something new and that enhances my clinical practice for how I care for my patients.”

Pacholski teaches the primary care courses for the adult gerontology and family nurse practitioner students. These courses cover health maintenance, acute and chronic illnesses including how to manage them and discuss the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) role. Her students are gaining valuable knowledge and skills related to health promotion and disease prevention, along with how to diagnose and treat common acute and chronic conditions. Additionally, Pacholski teaches advanced assessment.

“Each student who graduates is a success story. Everyone has a unique story and set of challenges. I feel such a sense of pride when I see my students walk across the stage knowing the sacrifices they have made and the determination to get to that moment,” said Pacholski. “My former students are working in primary care practices and specialty settings such as cardiology, endocrinology, dermatology and oncology. Others work in inpatient and long-term care facilities.”

As her students leave her classroom and continue to advance in their careers, Pacholski hopes they stay curious and are never afraid to ask questions.

“I give all my students the same advice. Know what you don’t know and then take the steps to find out more. Listen to your patients. You will find out what’s going on with them most of the time just by listening,” said Pacholski. “Nursing is truly one of the most rewarding careers and will take you on many wonderful journeys! Stay up to date with conferences and support your state nursing organizations.”

Throughout her tenure at Kent State University College of Nursing, Pacholski has served as a committee chair and member for several Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students. She explained this role is very rewarding and presents opportunities for publications. Recently Pacholski was involved in writing her first HRSA grant, a time-consuming pursuit, but one in which she acquired new knowledge and insight into the process.

Pacholski hopes to encourage her fellow faculty and nurses to be mentors.

“We were all new once,” said Pacholski. “It’s so important to provide encouragement, support and a welcoming smile for a novice nurse or faculty member.”

Like many in the nursing profession, Pacholski naturally gravitated to helping others.

“I had a friend in grade school who had Type 1 Diabetes and I would help her with her injections,” recalled Pacholski. “If someone got injured on any of my sports teams, I was typically the first one there to help. Nursing was the natural choice for me. I enjoy being able to help people with their health care promotion and disease prevention.”

Pacholski has worked in a progressive cardiac care unit and primary care/internal medicine for the past 23 years. She enjoys the variety of conditions and patients she sees. Her patients range from those requiring an annual checkup and addressing basic health care maintenance to acutely ill patients who may need to be admitted for in-patient care.

“My whole nursing career has been at Marymount Hospital. It was a private community hospital when I started there, but it is now a Cleveland Clinic facility. I have worked in the same internal medicine practice ever since I graduated as an NP, and I’ve been able to care for multiple generations of the same family which is so rewarding,” said Pacholski. “There are a few memorable moments that come to mind, but the recurring theme is when I see a patient or their family, and they tell me how much I’ve helped them or how much they trust me.”

Over the years, Pacholski has learned the fine art of work/life balance. She credits her mother as being her role model because she taught her how to be an independent woman and instilled a good work ethic in her.

“I’ve had three sons throughout my nursing career.  I finished my NP program when my oldest son was an infant, went back to get my DNP with school-aged children and finished it during a pandemic,” shared Pacholski. “My experiences have made me more resilient.” 

In addition to personal family growth and changes, Pacholski has observed the nursing profession change and develop throughout her career.

“The technology has changed tremendously.  When I started in nursing, charts were not computerized, everything was paper and pen. Electronic health records and documentation have really streamlined the profession,” said Pacholski. “Another big change came around 2003 when NPs were granted prescriptive privileges. It was great to see how policy and advocacy can change practices.”

In her free time, Pacholski loves spending time with her family, friends and dogs. She also enjoys reading and traveling. Pacholski earned her RN/associate degree from Fairview School of Nursing in 1992. She received her MSN and CNP (BSN Bridge program) from The University of Akron in 2000 and graduated with her DNP from Kent State University in 2020. She’s happy to encourage her students the way her professor encouraged her.

Learn more:

To learn more about Kent State University College of Nursing’s master’s programs, please visit: http://www.kent.edu/node/987101

To view the Kent State University College of Nursing Graduate Programs Guidebook, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/42ty62nm

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