August 23, 2012

New VUSN students eager to expand educational horizons

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is welcoming its largest class ever — 458 students who are pursuing either a master’s in the science of nursing, Doctor of Nurse Practice or Ph.D. in Nursing Science degree.

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is welcoming its largest class ever — 458 students who are pursuing either a master’s in the science of nursing, Doctor of Nurse Practice or Ph.D. in Nursing Science degree.

The incoming class of master’s students began last week with 161 non-nurses college graduates and 13 associate degree nurses who are participating in VUSN’s bridge program by taking generalist pre-specialty classes before beginning their advanced practice nursing classes, 190 students with a BSN degree who are pursuing their masters in the Science of Nursing degrees and 27 who are starting post-master’s studies. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program has 64 new students and the Ph.D. program has three incoming students.

“You are starting an intense journey and when you are finished the sky will be the limit of where you can go in the world of nursing,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., CNM, dean of VUSN, addressing the pre-specialty students last week.

Joseph Bailey, MBA, a dietitian, is starting VUSN’s Bridge program to expand his options and make a more profound difference in the lives of others. Bailey left his position as the clinic manager at the Metro Health Department’s South Nutrition Center, a relatively new clinic which sees more than 1,500 clients each month in the Women’s, Infants and Children (WIC) program, in order to become a full-time student for the next three years.

“I worked with two VUSN graduates at the Metro Health Department and saw how their nursing education made them very effective,” said Bailey. “It also made me want to know more about prevention and education, because when you understand where people can end up, you want to help keep them from getting there.”

Incoming nursing student Lauren Elliott talks with Linda Norman, DSN, R.N., as she takes part in VUSN’s PreSpecialty Orientation at Godchaux Hall. (photo by John Russell)

Raised in a family of physicians, Bailey started his education in culinary arts, graduating from Johnson and Whales in Rhode Island with additional minors in leadership and nutrition science.

After working in the restaurant business in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala., he came to Nashville to pursue his master’s in business administration at Tennessee State University. A temporary job at TSU turned into a fiscal analyst position in the University’s Center for Health Research. After earning his MBA in 2009, he started working for the Metro Health Department.
Bailey will progress to the Women’s Health/Adult Nurse Practitioner specialty for years two and three of his education.

Charlene Tachibana is the hospital administrator and chief nursing officer at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle and is pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Tachibana’s nursing career spans 35 years at the same organization. She spent roughly half of her career in cardiac care and moved into administration in the early 1990s. She is going back to school for two main reasons. First, she is interested in using evidence-based practice to help health care systems serve larger groups. Second, she wants to follow the Institutes of Medicine recommendation that encourages nurses to attain higher levels of education, including doctoral education.

“I need to help raise levels of education in nursing and set a different standard for those who come after me,” said Tachibana. “It’s also been a lifelong dream of mine, and when it became possible for me to do it, I told myself ‘go for it.’”

Tachibana learned about the VUSN program from colleagues already in the program and at professional organizations.

“I like the blend of campus visits with online learning and the idea that I can apply new knowledge into my position right away” she said.

Scott Johnson is pursuing his Ph.D. to dig deeper into the area of pulmonary rehabilitation. He graduated from VUSN’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program 10 years ago, and has been in practice, first for several years in Southern Kentucky, and for the past three years has worked for a private pulmonology group in Orlando, Fla.

He will be undertaking the program as a distance learning student, while maintaining his current position with a private pulmonology group in Florida.

He will focus on research in pulmonary rehabilitation, working with the elderly population with issues such as shortness of breath, chronic lung disease and developing a symptom management approach.

His experience working with a 1200-bed hospital system in Florida has exposed him to heart and lung and bone marrow transplants.

Though he applied to other Ph.D. programs, he chose Vanderbilt because he considers it his educational home and the caliber of the faculty. He remembers mentoring from VUSN professors such as Larry Lancaster, Ed.D., ACNP, and Joan King, Ph.D., ACNP, and credits them with changing his life.

“The fastest growing population is 70 years old and older, and one of my goals is to help older people function more independently and for longer,” said Johnson. “I think the Ph.D. will allow me to make a bigger impact on that.”