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School of Nursing pins record-breaking number of graduates

Aug. 9, 2018, 9:24 AM

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Dean Linda Norman, DSN, congratulates graduate Kendarius Talton, center, following his pinning by Brian Widmar, PhD, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care specialty academic director. (photo by Susan Urmy)

The largest number of students — 370 — in Vanderbilt University School of Nursing’s 108-year history graduated from their academic programs and were celebrated in pinning ceremonies Sunday, Aug. 5, at Langford Auditorium.

The 276 Master of Science in Nursing students in attendance received the VUSN pin signifying their entrance into the advanced practice nursing profession. Twelve Doctor of Nursing Practice degree students received lavaliers to attach to their nursing school pins, while 11 advanced practice nurses received Post-Master’s Certificates denoting that they had finished specialty education beyond their master’s degrees. An additional 71 students were unable to attend the ceremonies.

Pinning is a treasured tradition unique to nursing, with each nursing school having its distinctive pin identifying its graduates, explained Dean Linda Norman, DSN, the Valere Potter Menefee Professor in Nursing. While the tradition can be traced back to the Crusades, its modern significance began with Florence Nightingale, who presented medals of excellence to her graduates.

Dawn Vanderhoef, PhD, DNP, and Jose Cruz smile during his pinning. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Two pinning ceremonies were held, organized by specialty. During the celebrations, specialty academic directors announced the recipients of their program’s outstanding student award. They were:

  • Lorna Morris — Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  •  Jaime Young — Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  •  Susannah Spero — Family Nurse Practitioner
  •  Gianna Brabrand — Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  •  Josh Viele — Nursing Informatics
  •  Molly Brennan — Pediatric Nurse Practitioner—Acute Care
  •  Darshi Edirisooriya — Pediatric Nurse Practitioner—Primary Care
  •  Kelsey Pope — Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  •  Kaitlyn Breiten — Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

Two additional student awards were announced. The Amy Frances Brown Prize for Excellence in Writing went to Kristina Holmes for a paper on hepatorenal syndrome.

The VUSN Alumni Association Award for Student Excellence in Service and Leadership to School and Community was presented to Anne Sizemore.

The FNP student was recognized for volunteerism at Shade Tree Clinic, participation in the Vanderbilt Program for Interprofessional Learning and involvement in the Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership.

During the ceremonies, nine faculty members were honored with Sara K. Archer Awards for outstanding contributions to student learning. The student-voted awards went to:

  •  Joan King, PhD, FAANP — Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  •  Jennifer Kim, DNP, FNAP — Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  •  Mary Lauren Pfieffer, DNP — Family Nurse Practitioner
  •  Nancy Kraft, MSN — Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  •  Jeff Gordon, PhD — Nursing Informatics
  •  Missy Evans, DNP — Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care
  •  Brittany Nelson, DNP — Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care
  •  Jessica Searcy, DNP — Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
  •  Virginia Gardner, MSN — Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

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