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When Cintia Ciriaco graduated from high school in her home country of Brazil, she moved to the United States with big dreams. “I thought I would pursue medicine, but people encouraged me consider nursing and so I did that,” says Cintia. After learning English, she enrolled in a community college in Miami to start working toward nursing prerequisites. Eventually she transferred to the University of Miami, earning her BSN in 2002.

A Career in the Intensive Care Unit

The first 11 years of Cintia‘s career were spent in the intensive care unit at different hospitals in Miami. “I enjoyed the adrenaline of the ICU, “she says. “It’s a role where you need critical thinking and to act fast to save lives.” Cintia was adventurous, and decided to become a travel nurse, so she worked in ICUs, CCUs, cardiac ICUs and similar settings throughout Florida, Pennsylvania, California and Nevada.

Family Medicine and Community Health

In 2013, Cintia left travel nursing behind. She wanted more autonomy in her career and decided to become a Nurse Practitioner, entering an MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program. While in school, she did her preceptorship at a family medicine practice and enjoyed it so much that she joined the practice after she graduated in 2018. Around that time, Cintia also began working pro bono for a community health center that provides low-cost access to the Brazilian and underserved community in the West Palm County area.

A DNP to Earn Credibility

For years, Cintia had been thinking about building her executive résumé so that one day she could teach or possibly pursue leadership positions. “I want to continue to help people but also have the ability to start my own practice,” she says. “I was inspired by a woman I met when preparing for my Nurse Practitioner exams. She made me think about the profession of a DNP (doctor of nursing practice). The fact that having those letters behind your name can totally change the perception of who you are.” Cintia enrolled at American Sentinel in 2018, the DNP Executive Leadership program.

A Life-Changing Year

In October 2020—with the finish line in sight for her doctorate—Cintia decided to establish her own business: Health For All. The clinic provides low-cost healthcare to underserved communities, many of whom are Hispanic and Brazilian. Because of the high need in the area, Cintia and her family relocated from Boca Raton to Jacksonville. “Many we serve do not have insurance, and many need to come in and get treatment and get right back to work,” she says. “I volunteered for a nonprofit for several years before starting this company, and I know what an issue this is. I want everyone to have access to quality healthcare.”

In May 2021, Cintia graduated with the DNP. Launching a business while being a student actually was helpful in many ways. “I learned so many leadership skills that I apply in my business now every day,” she says. “There are also many different skills I never thought about before my doctorate program that I’m incorporating into my own clinic, like technology and leadership.”

Plans to Expand

Cintia hopes to grow her clinic and hire a few Nurse Practitioners to work with her. She would love to expand into telehealth so her team can do more for its community.

Now Dr. Cintia Ciriaco—she graduated in May 2021—Cintia feels proud but mostly focused on the future. “I’m very glad I did this DNP program at American Sentinel and I know it will help me achieve my goals with this business and giving more people access to good healthcare,” she says. “I would definitely recommend American Sentinel. It is a disciplined program with a great curriculum.”