Written by: Joanne Loos
Note: This story was written in spring 2023.
Chris Sellman is no stranger to hard work. He completed the intensive Graduate Entry to Nursing Program (GEPN) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing (NAWSON) in 2019 and quickly began making strides toward his Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at NAWSON shortly thereafter. In 2022, he reached his goal. Dr. Sellman fills us in on his journey.
Q: What brought you to NAWSON?
I was looking for a promising career in health care as a provider. I had always previously been interested in being a [physician assistant (PA) or medical doctor (MD)]. I’m a little older than most students, so I eventually decided against MD. I was all set to apply PA schools when I heard about UH’s GEPN to FNP [family nurse practitioner] program, and I was instantly sold. Not only do NPs [nurse practitioners] enjoy more freedom to practice independently (in many states), but I could also stay on Oahu.
Q: What have you most enjoyed during your time here?
The staff and my classmates have all been amazing!
Q: How did you feel about your journey in nursing when you first began? How do you feel now?
Finishing a [registered nurse (RN)] degree in one year was intense. I just took it one step at a time and before I knew it it was done! The next three years, however, especially with the pandemic thrown in there too, were definitely more challenging. Now I definitely feel like I have accomplished a lot. I also feel like I need a break!
Q: You have experience working with rural and/or low-income communities. Can you please tell me more about this? What was that experience like?
I had the opportunity to work in Lanai with some amazing nurse practitioners (three of whom are UH DNP alums – Jared Medeiros, Kris Aceret, and Keri Cummins) who are very good teachers. It was a very interesting experience living in Lanai City for a few weeks with a population of only about 3,000. It’s a bit elevated and full of Cook pines. When I was there, there was a cloud over the town almost the whole time. It is unlike anywhere else I have been in Hawaii. Great people! Definitely a strong sense of community and small town charm!
It is very expensive and inconvenient to send people to the other islands to see specialists, so in the office they conduct prenatal visits via telehealth to an OB/GYN on Oahu/Maui, do a lot of dermatology, and IM injections of corticosteroids among other things.
Q: Why were you drawn to work in these types of communities?
I’m from a small town of about 4,000 in Minnesota. It has definitely piqued my interest into working rural health in the future.
“Find your outlet that lets you clear your mind and recenter.”
Q: How are you are able to achieve work-life balance?
I’m an outdoorsy guy and love being in the mountains and ocean. To be able to do both of those things within a matter of minutes of each other is something we shouldn’t take for granted. On almost a daily basis, I’m running a trail or walking a beach with my dog.
Q: Any advice for students or prospective students?
Find your outlet that lets you clear your mind and recenter… Just take things one day at a time.