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School of Nursing student Imelda Reyes smiles during last week’s Commencement ceremony. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Graduation 2012: Nursing graduates ready to help shape health care landscape

BY: KATHY RIVERS

5/17/2012 - Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, told graduates during commencement ceremonies last week that, “advanced practice nurses, nurse scientists and nurse managers are crucial to health care and to our country.”

James Cliff Roberson III is the first Doctor of Nursing Practice student to be awarded the School of Nursings Founders Medal. (photo by Susan Urmy)

James Cliff Roberson III is the first Doctor of Nursing Practice student to be awarded the School of Nursings Founders Medal. (photo by Susan Urmy)

From left, School of Nursing students Aaron Holderman, Quentin Shambley and Cameron Stephenson. (photo by Susan Urmy)

From left, School of Nursing students Aaron Holderman, Quentin Shambley and Cameron Stephenson. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Nursing School student Kate McReynolds shares a moment with her parents, Bob and Margie Bishop. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Nursing School student Kate McReynolds shares a moment with her parents, Bob and Margie Bishop. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Ty Divine, left, and Angela Sterling, of the School of Nursing, smile during Commencement. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Ty Divine, left, and Angela Sterling, of the School of Nursing, smile during Commencement. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Carole Ziegler, center, with her parents, Fred and Victoria Ziegler, after the Nursing School ceremony. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Carole Ziegler, center, with her parents, Fred and Victoria Ziegler, after the Nursing School ceremony. (photo by Susan Urmy)

School of Nursing Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., CNM, presents Colleen Ariola with her degree. (photo by Susan Urmy)

School of Nursing Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., CNM, presents Colleen Ariola with her degree. (photo by Susan Urmy)

This year's ceremony recognized 33 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduates, 345 master's-prepared graduates and five who earned their Ph.D. degrees.

During the academic hooding ceremony on Branscomb Quadrangle, Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, congratulated the graduates and encouraged them “to ask the tough questions, to look for problems to solve, to do the research that can revolutionize health care delivery and to discover new depths in compassionate care.”

Most of the school's master's students officially completed their advanced practice nursing education last August and are already working in health care in a variety of different areas.

Even so, nearly 100 returned for the graduation and investiture of the academic hood ceremonies.

Joining them were the DNP Class of 2012, including James “Cliff” Roberson III, VUSN’s 2012 Founder’s Medalist, the school’s first Doctor of Nursing Practice student to be awarded the medal.

Roberson earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Arts in Spanish from the University of Virginia. He earned his Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia from Columbia University.

As a practicing nurse anesthetist, Roberson has volunteered for organizations such as Doctors without Borders, Health Volunteers Overseas and International Medical Corps and served in Mexico, Sudan, Palestine and Vietnam.

“I want to be an agent of change, to improve the health of my patients, and to address the disparities that exist for many people around the globe. The DNP at Vanderbilt has given me the tools to help translate my ideas into the real world,” said Roberson.

As part of his DNP scholarly work, Roberson visited Haiti and has developed a comprehensive educational curriculum to help anesthesia providers better manage obstetric emergencies. He plans to pilot his work in the developing country of Bhutan. He has also accepted a faculty position at Columbia University School of Anesthesia.

Kate McReynolds graduated with her Master of Science in Nursing in the Adult Nurse Practitioner/ Pailliative speciality. She was working as a nurse in cancer genetics when she immigrated to the United States from England eight years ago. In order to work stateside as a nurse, she pursued her American nursing qualifications so that she would meet licensure requirements.

She knew a Master’s of Science in Nursing would allow her to be an advanced-practice nurse and continue her work in the area of cancer genetics, a field that she considers her calling.

“The program was daunting, but no other place has believed in me, encouraged me and understood me enough to help me learn like this,” said McReynolds.

McReynolds works in the REACH for Survivorship Clinic at VUMC, where she does genetic counseling and genetic testing, and looks forward to expanding her roles, and building the program and hopes to be recognized next year as one of only 48 advanced practice nurses in genetics in the country.

VUSN also awarded five Doctor of Philosophy degrees to Carrie Marie Carretta of Ocean, New Jersey; Catherine Huck Ivory of Johnson City, Tenn.; Cathy Ann Maxwell of Hamilton, Ga.; Liz McDowell of Greensville, S.C.; and, Steve Brian Widmar of Nashville.

The school awarded degrees to: 46 students in the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program; 39 in the Adult Nurse Practitioner Specialty; five in Clinical Nurse Specialist; 75 in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program; nine in the Family Nurse Practitioner/Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: Emergency Care Focus; 18 in Health Systems Management; 21 in the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program; 15 in the Nurse-Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty; 10 in the Nurse-Midwifery Program; four in Nursing Informatics; 14 in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/Acute Care Focus; 33 in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/Primary Care Focus; 28 in the Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program; 17 in the Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Program; and 11 in the Women's Health/Adult Nurse Practitioner Specialty.

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