Fall 2017

Service before self

Ada Collier, now a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is working to improve care in military hospitals.
Photography by Liz Banfield

Ada Collier, ’17 D.N.P., had been a nurse in the U.S. Air Force for 15 years before witnessing something that changed her career path.

While caring for injured soldiers at Andrews Air Force Base, she noticed practices that gave her pause: a lack of handwashing, fluid overload, and medication errors that were harming patients. 

Collier saw an opportunity to make a difference. But in order to implement changes, she needed to rise through the ranks, and that meant earning her doctorate in nursing practice.

As a nontraditional student, Collier says some programs viewed her military service as an obstacle. The University of Minnesota School of Nursing considered it an indication of her dedication and passion. “They saw something in me and they took a chance,” Collier says. “They know it’s not just about getting a degree; it’s about what you’re going to do with it to transform health care.”

Collier was part of the first-ever graduating class of Bentson Doctor of Nursing Practice Scholars. She is now a colonel working on improving care in military hospitals.

She says earning her D.N.P. is more than a personal achievement. “It will impact wounded warriors who come back from serving our country,” she says, adding that she couldn’t have done it without “the tremendous generosity of the Bentson Foundation.”