As a DNP student who was also working at UW Organ and Tissue Donation as an organ procurement coordinator, Adam Schneider leveraged evidence-based strategies on organ donation to inform his team’s protocols, resulting in more viable organs from donors.
He earned his DNP in 2017, and has continued working for UW Organ and Tissue Donation, now as a nurse practitioner. Schneider is licensed as an Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber (APNP) and certified as an Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC).
What is a typical day in the life in your current role?
UW Organ and Tissue Donation manages the organ donation process for patients in Wisconsin. We often care for the sickest patients in intensive care units who go on to save the lives of others through organ donation.
Our team of nurses, recovery specialists, hospital development specialists, and other professionals all work together to support donor families through the donation process. Our staff medically manage the donor to maximize the potential for a successful transplant, speak with transplant professionals throughout the entire country to match recipients, get on a plane to fly to the donor’s hospital to help the nurses caring for the patient at the bedside, and facilitate the surgery to recover life-saving organs.
While doing this work, I also serve as administrator-on-call for the organization, provide statewide education to healthcare providers, and help develop new standardized clinical practices to make sure our donors and families can provide the most gifts possible.
What do you like about this job? Why did it attract you?
I began my nursing career working as a critical care nurse in the intensive care unit and emergency room. I quickly found that I had a passion providing end-of-life care to critically ill patients. I felt honored to be able to support patients and families who are often experiencing sudden and difficult loss. I wanted to find a way to blend my critical care expertise while helping families find solace in the wake of a tragedy. I was fortunate to find a position working as an organ procurement coordinator at UW Organ and Tissue Donation. I worked in this role for 5 years and then became the senior organ procurement coordinator, focusing on process improvement and standardization. After finishing my Doctorate of Nursing Practice, I was able to advance into the nurse practitioner role focusing on improving clinical practices and donor medical management strategies. I love the work that I do and I’m so fortunate to have found a place to go every day that provides fulfillment in my life.
What is challenging about this job?
No two donor cases are the same and every day is different. I love being presented with new problems every day that need ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions. You can never predict what problem is coming next. For example, one day we might be treating a donor’s medical problem that we’ve never seen before. The next day, we might be dealing with a snow storm that impacts the planes from flying somewhere to bring back a liver for transplant. We try to make the impossible, possible.
What skills from graduate school are the most useful to you in this job?
As a nurse practitioner, not only did I want to advance my own clinical knowledge, but also support the clinicians around me. I received my Doctorate of Nursing Practice from UW–Madison, which improved my own skills of evaluating scholarly articles and finding ways to integrate new knowledge into practice. I wanted to impact institutional policies and practices to ensure families can provide the most gifts possible for donation. The Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree focuses on developing skills around exactly this type of evidence-based practice implementation.
What kinds of things did you do as a student that you believe made you competitive as a job candidate?
Throughout my graduate program, I made sure every assignment and project focused on my field of expertise. Every literature review was on the topic of organ donation. My entire doctoral project focused on implementing lung management strategies so that our organ procurement coordinators were following protocols that were evidence-based and current. The end result was 10 more lung donors than we expected to recover for transplant last year. Our team was thrilled to know we were saving more lives through these new clinical practices.
What advice do you have for current graduate students interested in this type of career?
I think it’s important to be passionate about your work. I’m not saying this work is easy, but it’s a lot easier to do the things you love on a daily basis. A Doctorate of Nursing Practice is a unique degree that provides more autonomy. While I can prescribe medications and treat patients, I also have the foundation to improve clinical practices for other healthcare professionals.