August 25, 2011

Back to school 2011: New students follow diverse paths to School of Nursing

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Pre-specialty nursing students Audrey Pyle, left, and Brittany Powell are among VUSN’s incoming class of nearly 500 students. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Back to school 2011: New students follow diverse paths to School of Nursing

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is welcoming its largest class ever — 486 students who are pursuing master’s, Doctor of Nurse Practice or Ph.D. degrees.

The incoming class of master’s students beginning this week includes 254 students with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees who are pursuing their masters in the science of Nursing degrees and 155 non-nurses who are participating in VUSN’s bridge program by taking three semesters of pre-specialty classes before beginning their formal master’s education. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program has 65 new students and the Ph.D. program has 12 incoming students.

“We treasure every single one of you,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., CNM, dean of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, addressing the pre-specialty students last week. “You are choosing an extraordinarily rewarding career and you each bring your own experience and perspective to the school and to nursing.”

Davita Adanuvor, a chemical engineer turned registered nurse, is pursuing her master’s in VUSN’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program as a way to help more people.

After traveling the globe as a project manager for Union Carbide for several years, she focused full time on raising her two sons. As her children grew to adulthood, she started thinking about her next move. Volunteering on a nonprofit board exposed her to the world of nursing.

“It was such a profound experience to learn about the impact nursing and nursing research has on people’s lives,” said Adanuvor. “The extent of my health care knowledge up to that point was going to the hospital twice to deliver my kids.”

A native of Miami who has relocated several times for her husband’s job as a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, Adanuvor earned her BSN from Eastern Tennessee State University in 2008. Soon after, she started working for Mountain States Health Alliance hospitals in the intensive care unit, but her plan was always to pursue her master’s.

Currently based in Alpharetta, Ga., she enters the program as a distance-learning student.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunity and blessings in my life,” she said. “It’s my turn to impart that on others. Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is where I want to be.”

Incoming DNP student Marcy Stoots is a nursing informaticist who is leading a $240 million, seven-year electronic medical record implementation project for one of the largest health systems in Florida.

Stoots, M.S., R.N., wanted to be a nurse ever since she was a 14-year-old candy striper. After graduating with her bachelor’s from the Medical College of Virginia, she worked in direct care for several years. She became interested in informatics in the 1990s, and earned her master’s in Nursing Informatics from the University of Maryland in 2005.

She has a passion for improving safety and clinical outcomes and sees the process of earning her DNP as a way for her to make further contributions to the growing field.

“The government is investing incentive money to improve overall quality of hospitals and health systems; moving away from paper and toward a more electronic state,” she said. “As we get there, we need to figure out how to get the data and how to improve outcomes looking at evidence-based practice.”

She sees herself as an “informatics junkie” who can translate both medical and technical languages into meaningful health care delivery solutions.
For her DNP capstone project, she wants to focus on how interdisciplinary plans of care might improve clinical outcomes.

Anna Tielsch-Goddard, CPNP, is starting her journey to earn a Ph.D. as part of a lifelong pursuit of working with children. She graduated with her master’s from Yale University School of Nursing in 2005, and wanted to further solidify her clinical skills before starting her research doctorate.

She currently works as a pediatric nurse practitioner in perioperative services at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

“I have seen how some children faced with some of the same risk factors — divorce, abuse, low socio-economic environments — can rise above those obstacles while others, faced with the same circumstances, do not,” she said. “We need to look at ways to foster that resilience as it relates to illness and disease and promoting resiliency to make our youth more emotionally healthy adults.”

Tielsch-Goddard was awarded the VUSN Centennial Fellowship that provides significant financial support toward her Ph.D. tuition. She will work part-time at her current employer while attending the VUSN program. She doesn’t know her formal research question yet, but she is “always looking for ways to see how we can make life better for kids.”