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Extraordinary nurses are first to graduate from VCU’s new doctoral program in nursing
Extraordinary nurses are first to graduate from VCU’s new doctoral program in nursing

VCU School of Nursing recently marked an important milestone during its 125th year - the graduation of its first cohort of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. VCU is the first university in the state to offer a DNP degree that is focused mainly on quality and safety in health care. The program serves as an alternative to the school’s existing research-focused doctoral degree. It prepares nurses to translate research into evidence-based practice and to lead teams of health care professionals toward improving patient outcomes.

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VCU School of Nursing rises in U.S. News and World Report rankings
VCU School of Nursing rises in U.S. News and World Report rankings

VCU School of Nursing is once again ranked in the top 50 of the nation's graduate schools of nursing, moving up seven spots according to this week's announcement by U.S. News and World Report. VCU School of Nursing is ranked at No. 41 overall. In addition, VCU's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program made the top 50 for the first time since it was launched three years ago, ranking No. 48.

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Theresa Swift-Scanlan explores individualized patient care
Theresa Swift-Scanlan explores individualized patient care

When women are diagnosed with breast cancer, their treatment is usually based on characteristics of the general population of women fighting this disease. “They’re making life-changing decisions based on probabilities, and those probabilities are based on population predictors,” said Theresa Swift-Scanlan, Ph.D., RN, associate professor at the School of Nursing. Swift-Scanlan intends to change that. “I want to explore how those decisions could be based on their individual risk factors; the context of their environment,” she said.

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Angie Smith strives to empower patients to self-manage their health
Angie Smith strives to empower patients to self-manage their health

Angie Smith, AGACNP-BC (B.S.‘13/N; M.S.‘15/N), made frequent visits to the hospital as a little girl because her mother was very ill. At a young age she realized she wanted to be a nurse. Smith told her Mom, “I will take care of you.” Originally from New York, Smith moved to Puerto Rico with her family when she was three years old. Later she joined the military, which led her to move to Virginia. Her time in the Marine Corps taking care of injured Marines inspired Smith to seek a degree in biomedical engineering from VCU. Back then she wanted to help improve prosthetics for injured veterans. But her goals soon changed. “I realized that instead of working in a lab, I wanted to be with patients and provide compassionate medical care,” said Smith, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student at the VCU School of Nursing.

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Online programs provide opportunities for working nurses
Online programs provide opportunities for working nurses

After working three back-to-back night shifts from Saturday evening until Tuesday morning every week, Carrie Walker usually sets her alarm for 1 p.m. on Tuesdays. “I treat myself to a manicure to make myself get out of bed,” the 28-year-old said. As the night-shift nursing administrative coordinator at Chippenham Hospital, Walker is on her feet from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. rounding on all of the hospital’s units, troubleshooting hospitalwide issues and providing bed assignments for patients who arrive at night. She is often exhausted by Tuesday morning, but after a few hours of sleep and a manicure, she shifts roles from full-time nurse to part-time student. In September, Walker enrolled in the Virginia Commonwealth University Master of Science Program with a Concentration in Nursing and Administration and Leadership. This fall, the graduate degree switched to an online format, joining a growing body of programs that VCU School of Nursing offers online.

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Debra Barksdale strives to improve health care
Debra Barksdale strives to improve health care

Debra J. Barksdale, Ph.D., FNP-BC, ANP-BC, CNE, FAANP, FAAN, associate dean of academic affairs, describes herself as an introvert. One would never imagine that based on the impact she is making nationally in nursing education. A renowned educator, researcher, practitioner and advocate for improving health care, Barksdale is a highly requested keynote speaker at major nursing conferences and other health care gatherings nationwide. She has been the voice of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF), having served as its president for two years, president-elect for two years and two terms on the Board of Directors. She has also served on the Veteran’s Choice Act Blue Ribbon Panel and is the only nurse on the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Board of Governors appointed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office under the Obama Administration. In all of these roles she has been a passionate, vocal leader. But there’s another side to her.

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