Gannon University Graduates First Nursing Doctorates
Posted: December 19, 2014
At Gannon University's Winter Commencement on Dec. 14, Levi
Black, Peggy Boyd and Cindi Dahlkemper were first in line to
receive their diplomas.
It was a nice piece of symmetry for the three who were also the
first graduates of Gannon University's new Doctor of Nursing
Practice (DNP) program.
The program began in 2013 as a response to the changing role of
nurses in the dynamic healthcare sector of the economy. Open to
advanced-practice registered nurses who hold a Master of Science
degree in nursing (MSN) and are certified in their specialty, the
DNP program is an important step in helping nurses more effectively
influence patient safety and develop best practices for hospitals
and other clinical settings.
It's also fitting that the three new DNP graduates came to the
program from widely disparate corners of the expanding nursing
Black came to Erie from Arizona to enter the MSN program
specializing in nurse anesthesia. Black pointed out that such
programs are rare, especially in the Far West. Now actively engaged
in educating future nurse anesthetists as assistant director of the
UPMC Hamot School of Anesthesia, Black said the DNP degree "is
something that will be required [for his position] in the not too
distant future, and I always wanted to complete my education with a
Boyd's specialty is far different. She is a nurse midwife whose
most recent practice was on the immense Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation in Nebraska and South Dakota. An Erie native and
graduate of Villa Maria College, Boyd also received her MSN at
Gannon. "I always wanted to get a terminal degree as a personal and
professional goal," she said. "I can use data about best outcomes
for mother and baby, and the evidence-based practice we explored in
the DNP program was the best way to do that."
Dahlkemper is a family nurse practitioner in the emergency
medicine department at Erie's Saint Vincent Hospital. A Gannon
graduate for both her Bachelor of Science in nursing and MSN
degrees, the latter with a specialization in nurse practitioner,
she also cited personal growth as a motivation to enter the DNP
program. "The key is to be a leader and a mentor in a clinical
arena, and to show that [nurses] can make changes and don't need to
rely on our physician colleagues to do this for us."