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NP Student Spotlight: Meet Emily Barker

Cover Stories NP Students

NP Student Spotlight: Meet Emily Barker


During the pandemic, NP students have pressed on to complete their coursework and clinical rotations. Select students stood out to faculty and staff at their universities for their excellent contributions to their communities, schools, fellowships, and projects. This week, Emily Barker RN, BSN is our student highlight. She is currently an NP student at Rush University in Chicago, Illinois. She is in her final year of school and will graduate in August 2021!

Why did you choose to go to NP school? “I chose to go to NP school because I am excited and inspired by the prospect of translating research into practice, both at the bedside and in policy-making. I wanted to better understanding of the decisions and actions that go into policy-making so that I could be a strong change leader. I also have become very passionate about mental health and wanted to gain a better understanding of the complexities of the human body and brain and how to improve mental health. I want to be a change leader in promoting mental health, reducing stigma, improving treatments, and expanding programs.”

Tell us about your community service, extracurricular, research, or practice/fellowship. “Volunteering through this pandemic has been incredibly heartbreaking, fulfilling, and inspiring. This spring, I deployed to New York City with my NGO’s disaster response team, directly caring for COVID-19 patients in an overwhelmed hospital system. This incredible experience directly impacted my future as a PMHNP, as I was able to see the mental health impacts, caused by extreme physical illness, to both the patients and the families. We were continuously stretched to think outside of the box in providing the absolute best care we could in the middle of a disaster, caring for our patient’s physical, mental, and spiritual needs. I also serve on my rural county’s board of health, facilitating decisions for our county health department, which has been excessively overwhelmed and strained to the max through this pandemic.”

What are your future practice goals? “My future practice plans include a blend of patient care, both stateside and internationally, and continued service with the Army Reserve. As a PMHNP, my focus will be trauma, especially in the fields of military, emergency services, humanitarian aid, and healthcare providers (including NPs!). My experiences as a first responder, ED nurse, military nurse, and international disaster response nurse will provide me with a great foundation for working in these communities. Individuals working in these fields continue to pour their lives into caring for others, but have precious few resources to pour care into them. I want to lead a team that focuses on restoring these individuals to excellent mental health so they can continue finding fulfillment in their careers and in caring for others.”

Congratulations Emily on your incredible accomplishments and contributions to nursing during NP school!

Elizabeth Francis, BSN, RN

Emergency Department registered nurse and doctoral student at Duke University, specializing in Psychiatric Mental Health and Addictions.

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