An Interview with Jingyi (Cindy) Dong, BSN, DNP Candidate
Speaking with men and women who are driven by a passion to help others be and live healthy lives is always inspiring. But some of the nurses we talk with don’t just jump into the challenges of nursing with fortitude—they are also driven to lead and mentor others along the way—ultimately forging systematic changes in health care that benefit every person living in Washington State.
Jingyi (Cindy) Dong, a UW Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduate working towards her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree also at the UW, exemplifies this energy.
Cindy has been employed as a nurse at a Swedish Family Medicine clinic for the past two and a half years. In addition to returning to school to study for her DNP, in 2017, Cindy co-founded the Pacific-Northwest Chinese Nurses Association (PCNA, contact.pcna@gmail. com), which now supports around 200 members.
WCN recently sat down with Cindy to get her experience. Here is what she had to say.
WCN: What inspired you to pursue a career in nursing?
Cindy Dong: My dad is a doctor and my mom is a nurse, and as a child, they did an amazing job of sharing with me the spirit and essence of nursing. My mother is my role model. She helped infuse in me the conviction that there are three phases to medicine; “To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always.” In medicine, there are often limitations to how far we can go in curing someone. To do our best, we should be humble. Nursing offers opportunities to fill in some of the voids in care including offering relief to patients. But this idea of “to comfort always” is what really drew me to nursing.
WCN: You were fortunate to have a nursing role model in your mother, what did she show you?
Cindy Dong: My mother showed me that there are many different paths in nursing and to keep advancing throughout your career. My mother was a floor nurse, then a scrub nurse, then a legal nurse, and finally became nursing faculty before she retired.
WCN: What are some challenges or difficulties you’ve had to overcome to become a nurse?
Cindy Dong: I came to America on my own when I was only fourteen. It was a decision I made to study abroad, and I attended a private boarding school in Virginia. Of course, it was a challenge overcoming the language and cultural barriers in America. In China, I was expected to be obedient and that was no longer valued in America. It took me some time, but I finally learned to speak my ideas and thoughts and be more open and not afraid to make mistakes in front of other people. This new trait was extremely important once I became a nurse because nursing is not about being obedient; it is about speaking up and advocating for my patients.
WCN: What do your parents think about what you have accomplished so far?
Cindy Dong: They are very proud of me now. But it took a while. When I first told them I wanted to be a nurse in America, they were not happy. In fact, my grandma cried in disappointment when I told her I was accepted into UW’s BSN program. During my freshman year in college, I took a lot of pre-nursing science, biology and chemistry classes, but I told my parents at the time that I was taking business classes. They did not want me to be a nurse at all because their assumption was that nursing was a very hard, very low paying job, because that is the way it is in China. But in America it is different. Nurses still work very hard, but the pay is much better, and nursing is a well-respected profession here.
WCN: Why do you think diversity is important in the nursing workforce?
Cindy Dong: I really didn’t consider the concept of diversity in nursing until working toward my BSN when I joined the Nurse Camp Leadership Team. Nurse Camp is a program for high school students interested in nursing careers. The high school students who participated in the camp were from very diverse and underrepresented communities. So, while inspiring them to go into nursing, I also became aware of the fact that we need more diversity in nursing. It was a very reciprocal teaching moment for me. Opening my eyes and looking back at my BSN classmates I realized, wow, it is very white. I began to understand how a minority patient could feel more connected to a minority nurse. At vulnerable moments, I can see how a patient could have a deeper bond of trust with a nurse who is the same ethnicity. And in turn, how a nurse with the same ethnicity or cultural background could potentially give a patient more effective care.
After my Nurse Camp experience and graduating from the UW with my BSN, I wanted to take that diversity promotion idea into a broader scale. That is when I co-founded the PCNA.
WCN: You are currently working on your UW DNP capstone project. Can you share with our readers more about your project?
Cindy Dong: The goal of my project is to understand the supports and barriers for Chinese-American nurses in becoming nurse educators.
Wanting to support diversity in nursing, I am hoping to address diversity issues in nursing faculty by identifying both supports and barriers specifically for Chinese-American nurses.
The method is survey. I will be surveying Chinese-American nurses to get their perspective on what factors encourage or discourage them to go into nursing education.
Studies show that minority nursing students tend to have a higher attrition rate because they tend to feel less supported, isolated, or less valued compared to their Caucasian peers.
Studies also show that having higher ethnic and cultural representation in nursing faculty, in turn, tends to attract a higher rate of minority students and keep them there. The goal ultimately is to increase the success rates of minority nursing students, making sure they graduate and make it into the nursing workforce.
WCN: Thank you for sharing your experience with us today. What’s next for you?
Cindy Dong: After graduating with my DNP, my next step is to get a job as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP). Moving forward, I am interested in working in immigrant health or in a rural health primary care setting. My big dream is to someday open my own clinic in a rural area, hopefully somewhere in Washington.