MU nursing program wins recognition for innovation

In our February issue, we looked into how schools in Columbia, including MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing, were addressing a nursing shortage. Despite offering the tantalizing near-guarantee of a job upon graduation, Sinclair has had to find creative avenues for growth; the school’s state funding, like nurses, is in short-supply.

The school’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program found success in technology integration: using cost-effective strategies to bring quality graduate education to nursing students on campus and online. Last week, the program received the Central Region Excellence Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. The award is given spontaneously, based on merited nominations, rather than on a regular basis. Nancy Johnson, a program coordinator with Mizzou Online, nominated the DNP program.

In a press release, Sinclair dean Judith Fitzgerald Miller said: “This award reflects the able leadership of DNP program director Robin Harris, the focus area and specialty option coordinators, as well as the hard work and dedication of the entire faculty to achieve excellence.”

In addition to teaching three courses, Robin Harris develops program strategy and oversees DNP operations; Brad Johnson, of the Sinclair communications department, said she knows “anything related to the DNP.” Under Harris, the program has strongly marched into its fifth year boasting a 100 percent passing rate for its 220 students. The UPCEA award reinforces the DNP’s existing quality standard, but for Harris, it affirms a more important strength: constantly evolving and integrating new technology.

The DNP focuses on producing practical and well-trained nurses. Sinclair offers the program as an practice-intensive alternative to the research-heavy nursing PhD, but the DNP’s distinctive strength is bringing that practice to students scattered around the country — and doing so without a big bill.

“You can have a lot of things, but how are you going to integrate it so it’s not just another thing students have to pay for?” Harris said. The award’s criteria looked for cost-effectiveness, longevity, innovation, diversity and a commitment to continuing education. After being nominated, Harris gathered supporting materials to offer DNP snapshot: enrollment numbers, course descriptions, program rankings, graduate information, etc.

The DNP’s distance-program savvy made it stand out: students can utilize online mentors, audio and video interactivity with professors, real-life medical scenarios from the MU Health campus, and a host of other online help options. Every class is also vetted through Quality Matters, a rubric for online classes that provides an objective standard for coursework.

“A lot of that tries to engage that connectedness that distance students feel,” Harris said. “We really want them to feel like they’re a part of this. To me, that takes the creativity of answering ‘how do we offer those things to students who live in Texas or California or anywhere else in the country.”

Harris will accept the UPCEA award at the organization’s central region conference in Madison, Wisconsin in October. Check out the video below, provided by Mizzou Online, for more.

Featured photo provided by BCFDFF and licensed CC by SA 3.0.

 

 

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