Distance Learning

Penn State Graduates First Online Doctoral Students

The first students to complete a doctorate degree online have graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

"The students, Jennifer Barton and Jackie Gordon, each graduated with a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree that is offered through Penn State World Campus and the College of Nursing," according to a Penn State news release. "The students began their studies in 2014, when the program opened."

Both students worked full time as they made their way through the program, Barton as a women's health nurse practitioner at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, where she teaches nursing undergraduates, and Gordon as a clinical nurse specialist at Penn State Hershey's Heart and Vascular Institute.

The program requires students to complete an evidence-based project that implements and evaluates a change in nursing practice.

Barton looked into bullying and incivility in nursing and found that a quarter of new nurses are bullied and a third of those leave the profession completely.

"The more research I did, the more I saw that it's bad for our health care system because of the increased cost to replace people when they leave," said Barton, in a news release.

"Gordon developed, implemented and evaluated improved insulin protocols for cardiac surgery patients based on evidence she collected," according to a news release. "As part of the process, she sought feedback and approval from various stakeholders at the medical center, such as endocrinologists and hospital leadership. She presented her project at the Eastern Nurses Research Conference in Pittsburgh in April."

"The DNP degree is essential to address the changing demands of our nation's complex healthcare environment," said Lori Lauver, assistant professor of nursing and the coordinator of the DNP program, in a prepared statement. "Doctor of nursing practice graduates are practice experts who are prepared at the highest level of nursing and have the skills necessary to lead system change and translate scientific evidence into practice to assure quality patient outcomes."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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