Gustavo T. Herrera ’24 DNP: Tackling Implicit Bias Through Pediatric Liver Donation Protocols

May 18, 2024
The Yale School of Nursing (YSN) Class of 2024 holds the distinction of earning diplomas during the school’s centennial year. As graduating students prepare for the conferral of degrees on May 20, YSN is checking in with just a few of the extraordinary students adding hoods to their regalia this year.

Gustavo T. Herrera ’24 DNP

Nurse Practitioner & Instructor, Baylor College of Medicine & Texas Children’s Hospital

Program: Post-MSN Clinical DNP Program

DNP Project: “Reducing Structural Barriers in the Pediatric Transplant Selection Process: Assessing and Intervening Using a Standardized Psychosocial Assessment Tool”

Advisor: Joanne DeSanto Iennaco, PhD, APRN, PMHNP-BC, FAAN, FFNMRCSI

Gus Herrera

What was the best part of your YSN education?

The best part of my YSN education is all the close relationships I was fortunate enough to develop with my classmates and professors. My cohort was tightly knit; we were always there for each other and supported one another. Our combined experiences led to enriching relationships. Because of this, I became a better person and provider, and I will always cherish that. 

What was your clinical area of scholarly inquiry for your DNP experience? How do you plan to disseminate your clinical knowledge and expertise in this area after graduation?

I work as a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner, primarily with children who need a liver transplant. My clinical area of inquiry was focused on implicit bias within the healthcare setting and how it further contributes to widening the gap in health disparities. 
In terms of dissemination, I plan on speaking at conferences (and quite honestly to anyone who is willing to be my audience) by bringing awareness about the implicit bias we all harbor within ourselves and providing strategies we could implement to mitigate its effects. I also would like to publish and become a voice and advocate.

Gus Herrera (back row) and members of his Post-MSN Clinical DNP Program cohort.

Gus Herrera (back row) and members of his Post-MSN Clinical DNP Program cohort.

What part of your DNP project was most surprising to you?

By implementing a psychosocial assessment protocol, we were able to increase transplant candidacy in those children who received the improved protocol from 70% to 100%. This means that rather than only 14 of the 20 children getting listed for transplant, all 20 children were listed.
I was quite surprised with how smoothly things went during my DNP project implementation. I felt we were well prepared, structured, and methodical in focusing on all the details during the planning and writeup phase so it made actual implementation a breeze. It was quite nice seeing things being realized right before our eyes and to see things take shape just as we had all imagined. 

Could you describe a class or practicum experience that resonated with you?  

One of best things that surprised and thrilled me was being able to see the growth in each of our projects. Witnessing the growth of a single idea or concept to then being fully fleshed out and real was something that still leaves me in awe. I wasn’t prepared for the immensity and impact that we would impart in this program.   

What are your post-commencement plans?

I want to hit the ground running and continue with my project and its potential rollout to other service lines. I want to disseminate my findings and attend conferences to share my experience with others. From a personal standpoint, I would like to begin traveling more and enriching my experiences.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to continue on to get their post-MSN DNP? 

I would tell them to just do it. We all have a passion, and passion is worth both pursuing and nurturing. The beauty of the DNP is that you can take your passion and make it yours, make it something that has the ability to change the world. To impart change in this world is something we all aim to achieve, and what better way to start than to continue on and get your post-MSN DNP?

More Commencement Coverage

To read more student profiles and advice from six decades of YSN alumni to the Class of 2024, please visit the Commencement 2024 sidebar on the left (mobile devices, scroll down).

For more information on Yale’s commencement festivities, please visit