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Additional DNP Testimonials

Loreen CurleyBriefly explain your DNP project.
My DNP project is titled "Increasing Colorectal Cancer Preventive Screening Rates." My focus was on improving patient education and awareness on what colorectal cancer was and strategies for patients to get screened. I created a screening tool that helps healthcare providers focus on the needs specific to the patient during the clinic visit. The screening tool helped improve screening rates in the clinic by 80% in a 3 month period. I am currently working with Dr. Susan Van Cleve on publishing my project.

Explain your future plans as a new advanced practice nurse or nurse leader.
I am still preparing for my FNP certification test and am still waiting to hear from job opportunities in the Iowa City area. My long term plan is to work as a Family Nurse Practitioner for Indian Health Services in the Southwestern states. This past Spring semester I was a clinical instructor for the CON and my experience as motivated me to explore teaching opportunities in the future.

How did the UI College of Nursing prepare you for your new role?
UI College of Nursing has prepared me to be a better nurse and a more confident leader. I hope to continue to be a positive influence and role model for future Native Americans in the nursing field.

-- Loreen Curley (DNP ’18) 

Samantha FergusonBriefly explain your DNP project.
When I started my first clinical rotation, I asked my preceptor if he had any process change or safety concerns in his work environment that he would like fixed and his reply was "Viewing INR results and making Warfarin dosage changes". He went on to say he couldn't view both the current INR and the medication dosage at the same time and he was concerned about the patient safety. I formed a multidisciplinary team including IT, provider, RN, pharmacy and myself as team leader. We worked through current process flows and went through how we would like the process to go. My IT person then worked with EPIC to create a change. Then at staff meetings I taught nurses, CMAs, and providers how to utilize the change. Pre-and post-process change surveys were completed and had increased satisfaction. The process also created decreased turn-around time from INR result to the time when the patient was notified of the results.

Explain your future plans as a new advanced practice nurse or nurse leader.
My DNP project through the University of Iowa College of Nursing helped me realize that I can be a change agent within any health system. It just takes knowledge, tenacity, and interpersonal skills. I plan to work in a rural clinic/family practice clinic providing care to adults and children of all ages and feel that I have the power to create change within our crazy health environment.

How did the UI College of Nursing prepare you for your new role?
Because the University of Iowa DNP program is partially self-guided, I feel I have developed deeper critical thinking skills. I have been challenged to think outside the box and be self-sufficient. I have a deep understanding of the NP role in healthcare and feel that I truly am prepared to be an amazing care provider.

-- Melanie Devries (DNP ’18) 

Melanie DevriesBriefly explain your DNP project.
I implemented Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in my rural hometown clinic to identify and provide feasible interventions for adults at moderate to high risk for physical or psychosocial issues related to their alcohol use. SBIRT was first introduced to me through the College of Nursing as a new part of the curriculum, and I quickly grew passionate about it, as did my hometown clinic when they were introduced. Motivational interviewing utilized during brief intervention is a great tool for addressing various health concerns while also shifting the focus back on the patient’s health and wellness goals.

Explain your future plans as a new advanced practice nurse or nurse leader.
I have a passion for underserved populations, whether rural communities or inner city areas. I intend to utilize both my Family Practice and Psych/Mental Health certifications in my future role as a nurse practitioner, using my flexibility to meet patient needs, physical or psychiatric. I believe this has the potential for multiple benefits: shifting the focus back on the patient, cost savings, improved patient satisfaction and outcome ratings, and bridging the gap for high-risk patients that receive fragmented health care. Thus, I anticipate tracking patient outcomes with the aim of contributing to health care reform.

How did the UI College of Nursing prepare you for your new role?
Reflecting on the past and planning for the future, I smile at the strength I have developed throughout my graduate education. Vigor has been instilled within me to promote health in my clients. I perceive health as being whatever a person envisions for him- or herself. The College of Nursing introduced me to various guidelines, recommendations, and statistics throughout my education to help guide patient education and treatment. Furthermore, they challenged my thinking to consider various perspectives. I feel well equipped to partner with my clients in their health journeys. As a leader and advocate, I have the resources and confidence to educate patients and health care providers alike. I am fueled by the professional promise and dedication I feel as a nurse, and furthermore a doctorally prepared nurse practitioner, to advance the role of advanced practice nurses. I am deeply appreciative of the educational and professional leadership provided to me by the College of Nursing faculty.

-- Samantha Ferguson (DNP ’18) 

Tyler MoellerBriefly explain your DNP project.
I implemented the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) standardized depression screening in an independent, single-provider clinic in rural Southeast Iowa where no such depression screening had existed previously. The provider, an internal medicine physician, and I decided to screen patients 65 years of age and older, as many symptoms of depression are mistaken for symptoms of the aging process. I presented evidence-based information on the PHQ to both the provider and staff members, as well as evidence-based flowcharts on how PHQ scores could be correlated with choosing appropriate depression treatment modalities based on depression severity. Ultimately, the provider did not change his depression treatment practice after PHQ implementation. However, staff members screened 85% of eligible patients over the course of 2 months, demonstrating the ease with which the PHQ could be implemented. In addition, the provider reported that nearly all patients responded with a positive attitude towards the screening, demonstrating that the PHQ could be a useful tool to get the conversation about depression started.

Explain your future plans as a new advanced practice nurse or nurse leader.
I am purchasing an independent clinic in Mount Pleasant, IA that has been run by the same physician for over 40 years. I plan to practice independently as well, and I plan on seeing patients of all ages.

How did the UI College of Nursing prepare you for your new role?
Many of the faculty members in my program are active in their nurse practitioner roles, and are fine examples of those who merge patient-centered care and evidence-based practice every day. We were pushed hard to learn, but also to innovate in our patient care approach. I learned that to provide better care, I must address the needs of the patient and the healthcare system in which we interact. The College of Nursing assigned me into clinical rotations with extremely knowledgeable preceptors, who not only provided me with immeasurable experiences but instilled in me the confidence to go the extra step after graduation - practice solo!

-- Tyler Moeller (DNP ’18) 

Katie HalbmaierBriefly explain your DNP project.
For my DNP capstone project, I partnered with a psychiatric nurse practitioner and community mental health center in Des Moines, Iowa to implement pharmacogenomic testing. The Theory of Planned Changed was used to implement the intervention, and the entire clinic was involved and committed to the project. There was a six month intervention period where the nurse practitioner would use the pharmacogenomic test results as a tool to help guide psychotropic medication selection, while still considering other factors such as side effect profiles, route and frequency of administration, patient preferences, and others. We found that in the six months after the intervention period compared to the six months before, overall mental health improved, days and cost of psychiatric hospitalizations decreased, medication compliance remained high while independence in taking the drugs increased, and patients were more likely to attend psychiatric clinic visits with the nurse practitioner. My experience with this project has been invaluable to my education and career!

Explain your future plans as a new advanced practice nurse or nurse leader.
I plan to utilize the nurse leadership skills I obtained through the DNP program to promote the profession of nursing and to improve the well-being of those we care for. One way is by teaching genetics at the College of Nursing and providing genetic presentations to other audiences, including at the Iowa Nurse Practitioner Society this fall. I will apply my advanced practice nursing at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Heart and Vascular Center where caring for patients with genetic cardiovascular conditions will be a part of my role.

How did the UI College of Nursing prepare you for your new role?
The University of Iowa College of Nursing helped prepare me for my future role by teaching me a foundation in advanced practice nursing and supporting my unique interest in genetics. They worked with me to create a personalized plan of study that included courses outside the College of Nursing and practicums in genetic specialty clinics. The faculty and staff have a genuine interest in helping us students be successful!

-- Katie Halbmaier (DNP ’18) 

Kelly RichardsBriefly explain your DNP project.
A student nurse internship program was designed with the purpose of improving recruitment and supporting a student nurse’s transition into professional practice. Student nurses in their last semester of either an ADN or BSN program were offered the opportunity to participate in the Wheaton Intern Nurse (WIN) Program. Benner’s From novice to expert served as a theoretical guide in the program design. The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) competency behaviors of designer, partner, maximizer, and futurist conceptualized and guided this program development. The WIN Program has demonstrated participation from local nursing colleges and is currently displaying a positive impact on nurse recruitment. There is an ongoing evaluation regarding its impact on the transition to professional practice.

Explain your future plans as a new advanced practice nurse or nurse leader.
I will continue to serve in my current role as a Sr. Vice President of Patient Care/Chief Nursing Officer at the three hospital sites that comprise the Wheaton-Iowa Health System. This includes Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls, and Mercy Hospital in Oelwein. The knowledge and skills that I gained through my education at the University of Iowa will help me to be successful in this role.

How did the UI College of Nursing prepare you for your new role?
The education that I received at the University of Iowa helped to guide and support me as I transitioned to my current role as a Senior VP/CNO. I made the transition to this professional role after I had started the DNP program. The DNP program helped me to develop and hone the skills that I would need to be successful as a nurse executive. This included high level education related to nursing leadership, research, finance, governmental policy, program development, quality, and safety (to name a few of the topics). The DNP program at the University of Iowa is respected nationally. Likewise, the faculty at the University of Iowa are also nationally renown and recognized as experts in their field. The nursing faculty freely share their knowledge and expertise with students and this adds to the professional development of a nurse leader. I would recommend the DNP Health Systems program to other students who are looking to pursue (or enhance) a role as a nurse executive.

-- Kelly Richards (DNP ’18) 

Jill ParmeswaranBriefly explain your DNP project.
My DNP project focused on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) screening. The overall purpose of my project was to increase ASD screening by primary care providers (PCPs) in Iowa. My project had 3 different aspects. The first was to gain an understanding of current screening practices and to identify barriers PCPs in Iowa face in following the AAP’s recommendation. The second aspect was to develop and provide educational sessions for PCPs about ASD, screening recommendations, and referral sources. The final aspect of the project was implementing ASD screening at Mercy Pediatric Clinic, a primary care pediatric practice, in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Explain your future plans as a new advanced practice nurse or nurse leader.
I am re-locating to the Denver, CO area with my husband. I am looking for a job in pediatric primary care and hope to continue working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other developmental disabilities.

How did the UI College of Nursing prepare you for your new role?
The College of Nursing provided me with the knowledge and experiences I need to be a successful pediatric nurse practitioner. The advisors and faculty at UI College of Nursing are passionate about teaching and working with students and challenging them to be the best that they can be. My preceptors from my clinical experiences served as wonderful role models and mentors to me.

-- Jill Parmeswaran (DNP ’18)