The term Doctor of Nursing Practice is quite an unfamiliar one in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), as so realised by many T&T nurses residing abroad, with one being US-based Suzan Elizabeth Cameron formerly Broadbelt, DNP, APRN, NP-C, who doesn’t want to simply sit on a fence and twiddle her thumbs.

   According to “A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, or DNP, is a terminal degree in nursing. There is no higher level of education available for practice-based training in nursing. Nurses who have their DNP are considered key players in the future of healthcare in the US. The DNP is ultimately designed to produce leaders in nursing. Such nurses possess the highest level of nursing expertise. They have the knowledge to influence healthcare outcomes through organizational leadership, health policy implementation, and direct patient care.” 

Suzan grew up in Curepe, Trinidad and was looked upon as always being ambitious and conscientious. She attended Mount Hope Junior Secondary (MHJS), El Dorado Senior Comprehensive and Port of Spain General Hospital Nursing Schools, where she did exceptionally well and maintained focus on building her academic and personal capacity.

The niece of one of the world’s most-respected ballroom-dancing musicians and band leaders, Joey Lewis, Suzan loved music, but circumstances took her to sport which became her line of entertainment and recreation, where she excelled. She earned a National Junior Table Tennis title, represented T&T at a CAC Games, was flag bearer for a Caribbean Table Tennis Championship, and gained further prestige when a sporting House was named in her honour.

  After becoming a Registered Nurse, Suzan married a returning-St. Mary’s College scholar, Garnet Cameron, who majored in engineering physics but worked as a teacher. 

   Suzan described their jobs then as "beautiful professional careers", but still, even combined, they drew inadequate salaries. Thus, when the opportunity presented itself in nursing for migration to the USA during the AIDS Crisis in the late ‘80s, she grasped it immediately, but never forgot her heritage.

   A founder of the Caribbean Association of Texas (CAT), Suzan rose to and maintained vice-presidency for several years. She said, with her heart always set on helping others and ensuring their comfort, when the T&T Women’s Soccer team came to Texas and needed assistance, she promptly assisted.

  “I ensured the team had the necessary supplies and felt welcomed. I kept an interest in the team and followed them to Trinidad where they played against Ecuador during the FIFA 2015 Soccer World Cup qualifying rounds.”

  Noted for having a propensity to naturally care, when the Top Achievers Basketball Youth Team from Plano, Texas, visited T&T for a friendly game against T&T youth players, Suzan chaperoned.

   She said her determined, naturally-caring spirit wouldn’t rest, so she became a Family Nurse Practitioner.

  “With critical care experience in nursing, I practiced as a first assistant with a renowned neurosurgeon in Plano, Texas, emphasizing spine care,” she revealed.
  “Meanwhile, the population is aging steadily, and as Miller and Brown (2017) indicated, by 2030, 20 percent of the United States (US) population will be 65-plus-years. It was fitting to include primary care in my portfolio for older adults, and my vision was to have a nursing practice for the homebound elderly (HBE).”

   In 2012, Suzan established Advanced Practice House-call Services in Dallas, Texas, with ambition of becoming a leader in nursing which pulled her towards acquiring a doctorate. Suzan said while this is transpiring, T&T lay in the uppermost part of her mind. During the COVID-19 stresses, she said she had to keep her mission in full view on all fronts. Suzan said she acted upon her mission and applied to the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, a nationwide healthcare education leader. On May 11 of this year, Suzan graduated with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP).

  “At this juncture, I’m fueled, confident and ready, and want to give back to my country of birth. T&T gave me the foundation to expand in my chosen profession. Whether in the T&T nursing school system or the health ministry, I’m ready to be an adjunct faculty or online nursing consultant. T&T is an exceptional nation, and has produced great scholars at home and abroad.”

  Suzan said she sees a fuller potential of and brighter future for T&T’s healthcare system.

“I want to help, using the power of nursing leadership.”

   She said there’s no end when it comes to improvement in, or advancing the medical sector, starting from a consciousness of needs, expectations and delivery with paramount importance placed on the comfort of patients and families – how they are treated when seeking or receiving care.

   “We have the talent and skills to make T&T a place where healthcare can be the desire of the Caribbean and the world.”

   As T&T grapples with broader-band tourism, Suzan pondered health care tourism.

   “Foreigners can be attracted to the outstanding healthcare and seek the relevant services in our system, cognizant that they will be treated with the highest level of dignity. They can confidently recommend our T&T as a haven for exceptional care.”

   Suzan also considered healthy team spirit.

“Quality improvement starts from the top down and is executed at the bedside. Nurses, doctors and all other healthcare personnel must conscientiously and always practice by the oath.”