Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) student featured in the news

Fran Trujillo, a doctor of nursing practice student at The University of Tulsa Oxley College of Health Sciences, was featured in the August 11, 2017 issue of Tulsa Business & Legal News. Trujillo’s path to pursuing her doctorate has been both rewarding and challenging. Read more about her experience and the skills she’s gaining in TU’s DNP program.

Nurse pursues doctorate at TU to help her community

Reprinted from the Tulsa Business & Legal News 08/11/2017

Francisca “Fran” Trujillo is passionate about her dream.

She especially wants to teach healthy living practices to Tulsa’s Hispanic community in 2019 when she completes her doctorate of nursing practice.

Trujillo is one of eight students in the inaugural University of Tulsa Oxley College of Health Sciences program working toward the highest nursing degree available in her profession.

She has been focused on nursing for about eight years, and prior to that, she worked at St. John Medical Center in the surgical unit.

Even as she works toward her advanced degree, Trujillo is using her background to help the Healthy Women, Healthy Futures program at the Hutchinson YMCA.

“We just graduated a group of 25 women that came to classes regularly,” she said. A second group is scheduled, and she hopes the mix will be 20 English-speaking and 20 Spanish-speaking students.

She also teaches Zumba to participants in the YMCA program as a certified instructor. That involvement is part of her passion to help others.

Trujillo will be a family nurse practitioner when she graduates. With that certification, she will be able to provide care to patients of nearly all ages, from birth through death. She will not practice obstetrics.

The road toward the doctorate has been long and difficult for Trujillo, a native of Guerrero, Mexico, which is south of Mexico City.

Her father died when she was 4, and her mother migrated to the U.S. to find work because she could not meet the family’s basic needs in their native country.

Four years later, Trujillo and her siblings moved to California to be reunited with their mother.

She told an elementary school teacher who asked about a career that she wanted to be a doctor, realizing that it would be a difficult road because she was poor, female, a minority and undocumented.

Undocumented people live in fear and under the radar in the U.S., she said. They don’t report crimes or seek help and their needs often remain unmet.

An uncle living in Locust Grove invited the family to come to Oklahoma after they lost their California home when the housing market crashed.

It was 1994 and there were few Hispanics living in Tulsa at that time, she said.

Since then the Hispanic population in Tulsa has grown more than 220 percent, she said.

Trujillo was determined to get an education, and her uncle convinced her to move to Locust Grove. He paid her international tuition at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, and she took the required general courses.

But Locust Grove was a drastic change for a young woman from California, and she returned to Tulsa.

She found a job with the Bama Cos., and for three years walked to work from her home near Lewis Avenue and Archer Street.

Trujillo attended Tulsa Community College one class at a time, continuing to pay her way through school at the international rate.

In 1998, she gained U.S. residency and was able to qualify for in-state tuition as she worked toward earning a nursing degree. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2004.

Without legal residency, Trujillo would not have been able to get her nursing license.

The need for bilingual nurses in Tulsa is great, and Trujillo was accepted into the St. John medical community.

Despite being a U.S. citizen, she said she experienced discrimination because people thought she was undocumented.

“I believe I am the bridge between the Anglo and Hispanic communities,” she said. “I have no regrets about the decision to become a nurse. I am thankful I chose that route. It has opened many doors for me.”

Those open doors include fulfilling her passion of helping people improve their health and education. She hopes her efforts will have a trickle-down effect, not just on her patients, but their children and future generations.

Changing lifestyles and managing chronic diseases is not easy, she said. The Hispanic population is harder to work in because there are so many barriers to health care, including language, culture and “un-documentation,” she said.

The Hispanic population is underserved in many areas, especially health, Trujillo said. The mother is essential for the health and well-being of their children in this community and many other minority communities. If the mother’s health is poor, their children’s health is affected.

“That is why I started working for Healthy Women, Healthy Futures,” she said. “I am with these women living in poverty. I could self-identify with them and their barriers.

“To me, it was almost like giving back to my people for the many blessings I received, getting my residency, becoming a U.S. citizen, having children and getting my degree. To me, those are huge blessings. By helping in the community, I am in my mind contributing and giving back the blessings I received.”

Trujillo wiped away her tears as she thought about her mother and how she worked hard to support her family, adding that today, “Mom is very proud me.”

Trujillo’s passion to help others with health issues continues as she works toward completing her doctorate in nursing.

But she also wishes more Hispanic students would go into nursing or at least look beyond high school, earn degrees and become professionals.

“The way I see it, if I did it, others can too,” she said, “even if it took 20 years.”