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TWU graduates first DNP class


Photo credit: Ronda DuTeil
Cutline: TWU’s first DNP class graduated from the university May 15. Shown are, first row, from left: TWU DNP graduates Connie Martinez and Kim Bookout; Michelle Owens, who will receive her DNP in December 2010; and Consuela Witherspoon; second row, from left: Jan Zdanuk, Vanessa Nestor, Catherine Hill and Debra Knipe; third row, from left: Jan Merida and Julie Dreadin; and top row, from left: Jeri Hargrave, Robin Henson, William Lodrigues and John Gonzalez.

DALLAS/DENTON — Texas Woman’s University celebrated another milestone in its history of leadership in nursing education with the May 15 graduation of the university’s first doctor of nursing practice (DNP) class.

“The TWU inaugural DNP class shows the university’s commitment to offering advanced practice nursing education at the highest level,” said Dr. Patricia Holden-Huchton, dean of the TWU College of Nursing. “These DNP graduates are prepared for the most advanced care in nursing practice and have the knowledge and skills to effect change in healthcare delivery and policy in the workforce, in clinical practice and in the classroom.”

The 13 students who are TWU’s first DNP graduates are: Kim Bookout of Highland Village; Julie Dreadin of Dallas; John Gonzalez of Irving; Jeri Hargrave of Atoka, Okla.; Robin Henson of Denton; Catherine Hill of Frisco; Debra Knipe of Irving; William Lodrigues of Mansfield; Connie Martinez of The Woodlands; Jan Merida of Corsicana; Vanessa Nestor of Frisco; Consuela Witherspoon of Frisco; and Jan Zdanuk of Fort Worth.

“I consider myself on the cutting edge of nursing, and I believe that this degree will provoke many changes in clinical practice and in how nurses are educated,” said TWU DNP graduate John Gonzalez. “I will pursue avenues to help facilitate changes for the improvement in nursing education, nursing care, and advance practice nursing and feel as though I am a trailblazer for those who will come through the program after me.”

“As a DNP, I plan to seek out opportunities in leadership, health policy, research, clinical practice and academia that improve health care through facilitating a culture of best practice,” said TWU DNP graduate Jan Zdanuk. “I will advocate for DNPs to play a key role in expansion of primary care services for the increasing numbers of patients not served by the current healthcare system.”

As a practice doctorate, the DNP is similar to several other degrees in health disciplines such as psychology (PsyD), pharmacy (PharmD), physical therapy (DPT), social work (DSW) and medicine (M.D.).

“The DNP addresses the national need for well-educated nursing leaders in healthcare practice and education ” said Dr. Peggy Mancuso associate professor of nursing and director of the TWU DNP program. “The degree also allows students to function as clinically expert nurse educators, thus helping decrease the nursing faculty shortage.”

In a 2005 report, the National Academy of Sciences urged the development of a clinical doctoral degree in nursing similar to the M.D. and PharmD in medicine and pharmacy. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) also adopted a position statement in 2004 recommending that nurses practicing at the highest level should receive doctoral level preparation.

TWU was one of the first universities in Texas to receive approval to offer a DNP and began its program at the TWU Dallas-Parkland campus in 2008. TWU’s DNP program also recently was granted full initial accreditation from Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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page updated 11/12/2015 5:12 PM