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Ohio-based nurse practitioner receives student loan payment award

By: Lydia L. Kim, Digital Content Editor

The American Nurse team is delighted to have had an opportunity to speak with Destiny Wholf, a nurse practitioner at the University of Toledo Medical Center and Promedica Toledo Hospital. Destiny has recently been awarded the $10,000 Dale Brunken Memorial Student Loan Payment Award, an award founded by MGIS, a disability insurance company, in order to help healthcare professionals “disrupt” their student loan debt.

The American Nurse team would love to share Destiny’s story and perspective on some key issues with our readers.

American Nurse: Hello, Destiny! It is great to (virtually) meet you. Before we get into our questions, the American Nurse team would like to congratulate you on being the recipient of the MGIS’s 2019 Dale Brunken Memorial Student Loan Payment Award!

Destiny: Thank you! This award has been such a blessing, and I still am in shock!

To start off, we would love to know what winning this incredible award means to you and what your plans are now that some of your student loans have been (will be) repaid.

Destiny: Receiving a $10,000 award from Jeff Brunken and the MGIS team gives me the opportunity to focus on my career and family. I have recently made the decision to solely focus on working at UTMC with children in the inpatient psychiatric unit instead of the multiple units to help pay my student loans. This also allows me to feel more comfortable with going back to school to further my knowledge in child psych without the burden of such a large loan weighing me down.

Can you tell us a bit about the application process for the 2019 Dale Brunken Memorial Student Loan Payment Award and if you have any tips for other nurses or nurse practitioners who may be considering applying for the award?

Destiny: My mother-in-law, Marla Wholf, who works for the Hylant insurance brokerage inToledo, Ohio, discovered this opportunity from MGIS. When she presented it to me I jumped on it right away! The process was not complicated; however, talking about one’s upbringing when it wasn’t the ideal situation can be tough at times. My story has made me who I am today and the reason for my career choice. So, I’ve learned to take the positives with what life has handed me and encouraged others who may not have ideal situations happen to them look at it in the same light. With applying, I just was honest with myself and my story and put my heart on paper along with staying positive.

We know you have recently graduated with your degree in pediatric psychology and we would love to know a bit more about what led you to this career path.

Destiny: So, I am actually a certified family nurse practitioner, with the intention of a psychiatric certification and then a child/adolescent psychiatric certification. I live in an area where mental health has a huge need with the lack of providers. I took a leap of faith when applying for this position and have been so grateful for the opportunity! UTMC Child and Adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit at Kobacker was in interest of mine through word of mouth. The unit deals with many issues that I was familiar with in my own family, which sparked an interest for me. The kids in this community deal with many issues surrounding mental health in their family and selves, along with poverty and lack of resources. The ability to help the children and families in my community is an amazing opportunity, and even more so because I understand what they are going through.

What do you think are the most challenging aspects for nurse practitioners who work in pediatric psychology? In what ways do you think society can help mitigate some of these challenges?

Destiny: As explained above, the family dynamics, resources, and community resources are what make this specialty so challenging. You must have a great team of psychiatrists, nurses, and social workers to overcome these challenges. I am thankful to be a part of the UTMC psychiatry family and the MGIS team for being committed to tackling the student loan crisis which impacts a lot of nurses!

How do you hope to see the field of pediatric psychology change within the next 5–20 years? What steps will you be taking in your new practice as an NP in the field to help reach these goals?

Destiny: Funding and resources. I cannot stress it enough. These children are our future, and mental health is in desperate need for funding and providers. I hope to see more resources available for the kids and their families to overcome the daily stressors and obstacles that surround mental health. I hope to one day be a part of the movement to allow more access to mental health care for all, not just the children in my community.

We know self-care is extremely important to you, and we would love if you could share a few of your favorite self-care tips with our readers. Nurses and nurse practitioners work tirelessly to care for their patients, their own self-care is sometimes neglected. In what ways do you help heal yourself at the end of a long day, week, or even year?

Destiny: Self-care is so important, and something that nurses often overlooked. Being mindful and keeping in touch with family and friends is so important for one’s well-being. Good hydration, healthy eating, and adequate rest are simple, yet imperative for self-care tips that I feel are highly essential! Meditation and yoga are two practices I’ve indulged in and have improved my mindset and health, and the kids at Kobacker have shown a lot of interest and enjoyment with it also.

Please read more about Destiny’s story here, and more about the Dale Brunken Student Loan Repayment Award here.


The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. This has not been peer reviewed.

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