May 19, 2000

Nursing school led to more than a degree for Founder’s Medalist

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Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt (right) and Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., congratulate Nursing School Founder’s Medalist Anne Gingerich Brenneman. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Nursing school led to more than a degree for Founder's Medalist

In August 1998, Anne Kathryn Gingerich came to Vanderbilt for one primary reason — to obtain her master's in nursing.

But she is walking away with so much more.

Now Anne Gingerich Brenneman, married one week after completing her course work at VUSN in August 1999, is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner in Kalamazoo, Mich. She officially received her diploma during graduation ceremonies last Friday as well as the Founder's Medal for the School of Nursing.

"I was so surprised," says Brenneman. "I heard about it just two weeks ago. I feel pretty honored. I really appreciated my time at Vanderbilt. I loved it and now I love my job."

Brenneman, 25, says when she first graduated from Eastern Mennonite with a degree in biology, she was unsure about her career goals.

It was by chance that she heard about nurse practitioners during a summer job in New Mexico at the Northern Navaho Medical Center. It was then that she became interested in nursing.

"That summer definitely decided my fate. That was the reason I decided to go to nursing school. Then I had to make a decision about which direction to go in. It was a toss up between midwifery and pediatrics."

After receiving her B.S.N. from Johns Hopkins, Brenneman immediately enrolled at Vanderbilt.

"I chose Vanderbilt because of its great reputation and I heard that their PNP program was a good one. It was a good decision.

"Nursing school was really hard work," Brenneman says. "But it pays off in the end. The profession is very rewarding."

In her address to the Nursing School graduates, Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., referred to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that projected that the minimum number of master's and doctoral prepared nurses required will exceed the available supply.

"You are unique because you are graduating when the need for sophisticated advance practice nurses in the clinical and administrative areas has never been greater," she said. "This is the health care delivery system that needs your expertise, your courage, your knowledge and your compassion."

Conway-Welch told the students that they are entering a health care system challenged by political, demographic, economic and health professional issues, but they have the skills to meet those challenges. She urged them to embrace conflict and look for ways to balance it.

"You are the glue that will hold our health care delivery system together," she said. "You now carry an additional level of responsibility and accountability to others, but mostly to yourselves. By virtue of your new level of preparation, you will find that the risks are infinitely greater, but so are the rewards."

Brenneman joined 221 other graduates from the School of Nursing, including: 38 Acute Care Nurse Practitioners; 11 Adult Nurse Practitioners/Occupational Health; 70 Family Nurse Practitioners; 15 Gerontological Nurse Practitioners; seven Health Systems Management; nine Neonatal Nurse Practitioners; 13 Nurse Midwives; 15 Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; 14 Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners and 30 Women's Health Nurse Practitioners.

As part of graduation ceremonies the following specialty awards were given to recognize the most outstanding student in each specialty area. The awards are based on academic achievement, excellence in clinical practice, demonstrated leadership, community service and potential for future contributions to the nursing profession. Honorees were:

• Acute Care Adult Nurse Practitioner — Stephen Lee Miller;

• Adult Nurse Practitioner/Occupational Health — Jill Tiffany Vick;

• Family Nurse Practitioner — Jill Eileen Richards;

• Gerontological Nurse Practitioner — Shellena Storey;

• Health Systems Management — Charisse C. Fizer;

• Neonatal Nurse Practitioner — Melinda Beth Taylor;

• Nurse Midwifery — Angela MarLee Wilson-Liverman;

• Pediatric Nurse Practitioner — Beverly Matthews;

• Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner — Amanda Lou Pendley;

• Women's Health Nurse Practitioner — Kathryn B. Elliott.