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Nursing School graduates set for crucial health care roles

May. 16, 2013, 8:48 AM

School of Nursing student Asa Briggs waves during the University commencement ceremony in Memorial Gym. (photo by Susan Urmy)

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

Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, takes part in Friday’s graduation ceremony. (photo by Susan Urmy)

This year’s ceremony recognized 20 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduates, 407 master’s-prepared graduates and three who earned their Ph.D. degrees in Nursing Science.

During the Investiture ceremony on Branscomb Quadrangle, Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D, vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, recognized the accomplishments of all the graduates as well as the retirement of Conway-Welch at the end of this academic year.

“We hold great admiration for her sustained impact on nursing education not only on our campus, but across the nation and around the world,” Balser said. “Her vision for innovation in advanced practice education for nurses has set a national standard, and you are the product of that incredible vision.”

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, including Chaquetta Thomas Johnson, DNP graduate and VUSN’s 2013 Founder’s Medalist.

Johnson earned her BSN, MSN and MPH from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and has worked in the public health sector in her home state of Louisiana.

Her DNP scholarly project focused on the impact of contraceptive choice on the incidence of sexually transmitted infections, a reproductive health model that was implemented statewide in Louisiana in 2012.

She serves as the regional consultant for the Louisiana Office of Public Health, overseeing nine health departments.

School of Nursing students get ready for commencement in Memorial Gym last Friday. (photo by Susan Urmy)

“The faculty was exceptional at helping us integrate what we were learning in our coursework into our practice setting,” Johnson said. “The experience gave me a global perspective not just of the patient or the unit, but the whole organization, how the policies we implement affect the whole picture.”

Nathan Guerette graduated with his Master of Nursing Science degree in Nurse Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner.

While an undergraduate at Elon University in North Carolina, Guerette attended a study abroad trip to a remote area in the Guatemala highlands. While in this area with high infant mortality rates, he experienced the importance of the birthing process for women.

Nursing School student Sarah Hill with her month-old daughter, Lillian. (photo by Susan Urmy)

He enrolled in the VUSN Bridge to Specialty Program in 2010, determined to pursue a dual degree program.

“Graduating from the Vanderbilt School of Nursing means having been mentored and molded by the brightest minds — and most compassionate hearts — in the field,” said Guerette.
VUSN also awarded Doctor of Philosophy degrees to Richard Benoit Jr., James Barnett and Joshua Squiers – all of Nashville.

Chance and Diane Allen share a moment after the School of Nursing ceremony. (photo by Susan Urmy)

The school’s 407 degrees included: 64 in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care program; 59 Adult Nurse Practitioner; six Clinical Nurse Specialist; 81 Family Nurse Practitioner; three Family Nurse Practitioner/Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner/Emergency Focus; 37 Health Systems Management; 12 Neonatal Nurse Practitioner; 12 Nurse-Midwifery; 10 Nurse-Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner; seven in Nursing Informatics; 17 Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/Acute Care; 39 Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/Primary Care; 31 Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Family); 20 Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner; and nine in Women’s Health/Adult Nurse Practitioner.

Rebecca Lauren Smith and her grandmother, Flavil Hatcher, at the School of Nursing ceremony. (photo by Susan Urmy)

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