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VUSN Ph.D. student goes the distance to defend dissertation

BY: IRENE MCKIRGAN

1/27/2011 - For the first time, a Vanderbilt Ph.D. candidate recently held a public dissertation defense from a distance and in real time.

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing's Lt. Col. Linda Fisher, an active duty member of the Army Nurse Corps, defended her dissertation from her post in Washington using desktop video conferencing technology.

“This milestone demonstrates our school's continued innovative leadership in its Ph.D. in Nursing Science Program, which is offered in a non-traditional format,” said Ann Minnick, Ph.D., R.N., senior associate dean for Research.

In 2007, VUSN began offering its Ph.D. program using a variety of formats such as online, video or teleconferencing coupled with required blocks of time on campus.

“This is one approach to dealing with the nation's nursing shortage because it allows an opportunity for individuals to pursue an advanced nursing career without relocating to Nashville,” said Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., senior associate dean for Academics.

Minnick and Norman, who also serve as co-directors of VUSN's Ph.D. program, anticipate more students will be interested in doing public dissertations defense from a distance.

“VUSN is a national leader in developing and using new technologies in nursing education and I am very proud of our nursing informatics center, which provides a dynamic and stimulating learning environment for our students and faculty,” said Betsy Weiner, Ph.D., R.N.-B.C., senior associate dean for Informatics.

Not only did Fisher defend from a distance but one of her committee members, Jack Needleman, Ph.D., UCLA School of Public Health, also participated in the defense using video conferencing technology.

Fisher currently serves in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps as a Nurse Methods Analyst at the Center for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry at the Madigan Army Medical Center. Her dissertation was entitled, “The influence of organizational and personal factors on U.S. Army Nurse Corps officers' intent to leave the Army.”

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