Rebecca Sypniewski, a Kirkhof College of Nursing doctoral student, has been both a provider of health care and a caregiver.
With those two lenses, Sypniewski said she sees how fragmented the nation’s health care system is and she’s determined to do her part to change that.
Sypniewski organized a health fair for senior citizens at Evergreen Commons in Holland in mid-February. It was the first health fair held at the senior citizen facility and it was a hit.
KCON nursing students helped Sypniewski lead sessions for participants on osteoporosis, healthy eating, blood pressure management, vision screening and other topics.
Sypniewski was among the first graduates of KCON’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program in April 2012. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Saint Mary’s College in 1996 and a master’s degree in nursing from Grand Valley in 2003. She works at the GVSU Family Health Center as a family nurse practitioner.
Her doctoral focus is elder health. “I would like to expand my practice as a nurse practitioner to advocate for older adults,” she said. “I would like to develop creative and innovative ways for older adults to ‘age in place’ or live independently.”
Sypniewski’s mother, a retired physician, suffered a major stroke in 2011. Following that experience, Sypniewski said it became more evident to her how the health care system “does not meet the needs of healthy elders or elders with health problems.”
“I have witnessed some of the challenges that are prominent within health care,” she said. “For these reasons, it is important to me that I continue to advocate for older adults.”
Linda Scott, professor and associate dean for graduate programs, said the health fair model Sypniewski established for Evergreen was based on client needs and an analysis of current literature.
“In addition to partnering with the community for health promotion, her dissertation project allows the public to see how nursing practice extends beyond the hospital to make a difference in people’s lives,” Scott said, “and how having an advanced degree in nursing can affect system change.”