Skip to main contentSkip to main navigationSkip to footer content
A nurse practioner in a white medical coat poses for photo in medical setting.

DAKOTA YOUNG: The nursing education he received at UAFS encouraged Young to treat every patient as an individual, respecting their dignity and their differences.

Bell Tower Magazine | Health Education and Human Sciences | Alumni | BT-CurrentOctober 20, 2022

Finding the Work-Life Balance

Dakota Young has something he wants to tell you, and if you know he works in the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery clinic at Baptist Health, you probably think you know what it is: a healthful diet, regular exercise, and no smoking. Those are certainly good tips from the advanced practitioner provider, but they weren’t what bubbled up to the top during a recent conversation.

Instead, we talked about his education. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UAFS in 2016, and a Master of Science in Nursing with a family nurse practitioner specialty from Walden University in 2022.

We talked about his work history. After his UAFS graduation, he started a nursing position in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit and the Stepdown Unit. In 2017, he moved to a supervisory role. In 2018, he became a clinical nurse manager in the Cardiovascular ICU and Stepdown Unit through 2022. On Sept. 2, he accepted the Advance Practitioner Provider position at Baptist.

But what he wanted to talk about most were his hobbies.

He’s been refereeing high school football in Oklahoma for about 10 years. He coaches T-ball in the Alma and Van Buren leagues. And he loves fly fishing. 

“You have to have hobbies that are different from work,” he said. “You need to be outside. Ignore social media; stop thinking about yourself. Enjoy time with your family. Even the T-ball I coach includes my family.”

Young said you don’t have to be a cardiothoracic nurse to absorb stress in your job or need a release from that stress. “Everyone needs something to create balance. Even kids in school need to put their books down and play outside sometimes.”

Back on the work front, Young says he thinks nursing is such a fulfilling career because it includes so many options. “If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can change. If you don’t like clinic work, you can try hospital nursing. You can be a visiting nurse. It’s a diverse profession.”

Young, who graduated from Pocola High School, said that he was fortunate to have the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith nearby.

“I wasn’t prepared for college like graduates from some of the larger schools in the area. But the supportive care – faculty, advisors, financial advisors – was just what I needed. The university gave me every opportunity that I needed,” he said.

Young has nothing but positive things to say about UAFS, but he called out his clinical professors in particular. 

“Every single clinical instructor I had was good. They taught me about disease: What it was, why it was important, and how we treat it in individual patients,” Young said. “They taught me to consider how medications work in each body. 

“They taught me that individualized patient care is the most important thing. We should treat every patient as an individual, respecting their dignity and their difference.”