Joseph Biddix, a student in UNC-Chapel Hill’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice program, has received two bachelor’s degrees from Carolina. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree in nursing, he was accepted into the U.S. Navy Nurse Candidate Program and, upon graduation with highest honors, was commissioned into the Navy. A lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, he has received numerous distinctions that include two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. He is currently the service lead nurse for peripheral vascular surgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
What made you choose UNC-Chapel Hill when deciding on a program/place to study?
I completed my first bachelor’s degree at Carolina in 2005. I had such a great experience that when I was looking to go back for a B.S. in nursing, I only applied to Carolina. I completed that degree in 2012. As I was considering graduate school, I knew that I was still going to be working full-time as an active duty Nurse Corps officer, so I wanted to find an online program. I looked at other universities, but never fully committed to applying. When I saw that the UNC School of Nursing was offering an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with a focus in health care leadership and administration, I knew that was the program for me. I’ve always found UNC, especially the School of Nursing, to be very supportive. You get a sense that the faculty and advisors want you to succeed and are there to help you do just that.
Tell us about your research.
I’m in my first semester of graduate school, so I have not started a formal project yet. What I’ve worked on so far and would like to expand upon with my graduate studies is standardizing access to HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for active duty and Tricare beneficiaries who are at increased risk for acquiring HIV. This primarily centers on the active-duty population of men who have sex with men (MSM). HIV PrEP has been available to active-duty members since 2014, but there was never any overarching U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) guidance on how to prescribe or manage it until 2018. Even then, there existed large knowledge gaps among health care providers and at-risk service members on PrEP’s availability and how to appropriately prescribe and manage it.
In the DNP program, we are different from a Ph.D. program in that we are not looking to generate new research. We take existing research and put it into practice in a way that we can measure the effectiveness of the implementation and present those data. What I would like to do with PrEP is standardize training across the military health care system and create a dashboard accessible to providers that simplifies tracking lab work and refills as recommended by CDC clinical practice guidelines. Training and implementation would be a multi-tiered approach that targets providers, nursing, pharmacists, and public health professionals.
What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in graduate school?
I am still on active duty, but over the past eight years, I’ve learned that accountability and communication are key elements to success. Taking the approach of “wait and see” is generally not going to yield results. When confronted with a task or problem, identify your key stakeholders, establish relationships and expectations, set deadlines, and do your best to meet them and hold others accountable for meeting them. Be committed, but also flexible. Recognize when your angle may not be the best approach and be willing to adjust and move forward.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?
The UNC School of Nursing is the number one public nursing program in the U.S. That speaks to the quality of education I’m receiving in my program. Earning this degree will help my transition into executive medicine, where I hope to have an impact on health policy DoD-wide.