DNP Profile: Emily Rymland

Nov 22, 2017
Emily Rymland

Oakland, CA

Post Master's Completion Program 


Emily’s career working with HIV began in the early 1990s. She had a degree in theater and had been working in that field when the disease began to invade her community. Not long before, she had visited East Africa where she saw the devastation HIV was causing there.  She knew she had to take action. She says “My friends were dying and I couldn’t stand being a passive bystander. I needed to help.”  


At that point Emily went back to school for nursing, becoming a registered nurse, earning a master’s degree becoming a nurse practitioner. She has been working with HIV patients in California and currently works as a nurse practitioner at the East Bay AIDs Center serving women and the under- and uninsured. Emily’s commitment to care extends well beyond the Bay Area; she is a board member of the Buseesa Community Development Centre (BCDC) in Uganda which is works on three pillars; microcredit, health, and education. The Centre also has a well with clean drinking water.


As the BCDC’s Chief Medical Officer Emily established the area’s first permanent medical clinic in 2014. The idea to establish the clinic came after she and a team of nurses and pharmacists spent a week there, treating over 1,200 Buseesa residents for malaria, worms, typhoid fever, HIV/AIDS, other diseases, and conditions.   


Having raised money for solar panels to create electricity, the clinic is now a six-room facility with a lab, staffed by a clinical officer, two nurse midwives, a registered nurse, a lab tech, and a cashier. The clinic now gives about 4,000 people access to medical care who did not have access before. Curbing deaths from malaria and AIDs are two of the main goals of the clinic. Stigma still surrounds HIV and AIDs in Uganda and testing is met with resistance due to the social consequences of being found positive. Emily says that if patients can overcome those fears, they can receive necessary treatment, “If you can get them to the clinic, they will do well…The medicine works here. It works there too if we can get it to them.” Challenging this stigma and encouraging testing and treatment are built into Emily’s work.


Several times a year, Emily visits the clinic and bring medical supplies. “It needs to be in our consciousness that there is suffering going on all over the world,” she notes. Raising money for the BCDC is her passion.


Already a nurse practitioner, Emily decided to further her education in UMass Amherst's Doctor of Nursing Practice Post-Master's Completion program to replicate a functioning clinic and "further serve the people of Western Uganda." With curriculum emphasizing organizational behavior and healthcare informatics, the Post-MS DNP Completion is an excellent option for advanced practice nurses to gain the skills and knowledge for innovation and leadership roles.


Emily says her classes are helping to bring a new perspective to her work, citing the program's Nursing Ethics, Health Policy, & Politics class as making a big impact “I learned how to look at things through a different eye, whether here, in Africa, or just walking through this world.”