Servant leadership is what Ruth Mustard, ‘96 MSN, has strived toward throughout her 42-year career as a nurse. It is also what she has focused her research interests on as a student in the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program.
Mustard, associate director for nursing and patient services at the William Jennings Brian Dorn VA Medical Center, received her master’s degree in nursing administration from South Carolina in 1996. Earning a terminal degree has always been one of her personal goals, and in 2017, Mustard came back to the college for the DNP program with a concentration in nurse executive leadership.
Mustard recently completed an independent study with her faculty mentor, Ronda Hughes, and authored a manuscript, “Servant Leadership in the Veterans Health Administration,” which has been accepted for publication.
“I have had a great experience in developing a servant leadership education and mentorship program for nurse managers,” Mustard said. “I targeted that group because they are pivotal in terms of patient care.”
As a nurse leader, Mustard has always encouraged life-long learning among her staff and serves as a role model for others in continuing her education alongside a demanding career. Mustard credits the DNP program with opening her eyes to a different type of education and an opportunity for exploring an interest in scholarly research.
“The master’s of science in nursing was a good experience, but the doctoral program gives a deeper understanding of why we do what we do. It allows us to ask those questions and gain a better understanding at a deeper level. It has been very energizing to go back to school and do some things that I probably would not have done and learn things that I may not have been exposed to otherwise,” she said.