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Nursing Alumnus Broadens Horizons with New Skills

  • Alumni
Akila Aisner
Akila Aisner, MSN '18

As one of the first nursing alumni of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Akila Aisner, MSN ’18, will soon become a family nurse practitioner.

A few years ago, he was working at a hospital in Marina Del Rey, California, as a registered nurse (RN). As he developed relationships with his patients, he was often frustrated that he did not have the knowledge base―or professional stature―to treat them within the medical model. He decided to pursue a master’s degree so he could care for his patients in the way he thought they needed.

“As a nurse we treat a patient's response to their illness,” Aisner said. “If they have pulmonary hypertension, the patient may be short of breath, and we can administer treatments to improve breathing and prevent further problems. But as a nurse practitioner, I'll be the one diagnosing the illness that's causing the shortness of breath and prescribing their plan of care.”

Having been a part of the school’s Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner program, Aisner received an interdisciplinary education. Being instructed by social work professors in motivational interviewing, for example, has provided him with a unique skill. “Meaningful conversation and careful listening will encourage a patient to give more information,” Aisner said. “If conducted gracefully, the process can motivate patients to commit to changes that will improve their quality of life."

Aisner’s long-term career goals have broadened too. Before becoming an RN, he earned an undergraduate degree in advertising and public relations. Now, he envisions joining these two focuses and launching national public health awareness campaigns to change how people take care of themselves and others.

“The complexities of physical illness are ever-increasing,” Aisner said. "I want to implement mass communication strategies to directly improve health literacy and motivate healthy behaviors.”