Archive for June 29, 2017

DNP Graduates Prepare for Careers in Nurse Leadership

Seven students who graduated from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing’s ’s first Doctor of Nursing Practice class are utilizing the analytical skills and evidence-based practice principles that they gained to address some of our most pressing health care challenges.

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing launched its DNP program in 2014 in response to the vast changes in the nation’s health care delivery system. The program prepares nurses at the highest level of professional nursing practice to lead interdisciplinary health care teams and to improve systems of care, patient outcomes, quality and safety. The program emphasizes clinical leadership in the specialty areas of health systems leadership and population health. Below, Emory DNP graduates reflect on their experience in the program, their career goals, and why they chose Emory.


Susan Swanson,DNP,MSN

Current Career Position:

I am currently an active member of a healthcare consulting business. I am also excited to begin a two year nursing post-doctorate as part of the Atlanta VA Quality Scholars Program. The areas that I will be focusing on within the program include implementation science in areas of quality improvement, patient safety, optimizing healthcare access, and optimizing healthcare delivery.

Ultimate Career Goal:

My ultimate career goal is to teach operations consulting. I also want to complete Board level work focused on quality, safety, optimizing operational efficiencies, and promoting the value proposition that the profession of nursing offers in senior positions.

Favorite Memory from the DNP Program:

My favorite memory from the program was the DNP leadership and faculty transparency. The faculty offered their expertise and actionable support that helped foster excellence in all program and project areas. This program offered networking and high caliber program peers that are true exemplars in their respective specialty areas.

Why Emory:

I chose Emory University because of their world class reputation. They offered a very unique hybrid DNP program that is not available anywhere else. Both the faculty and the dean are visionaries that lead by example. They are genuinely interested in cultivating people within the nursing profession.


Tamera Borchardt,DNP,MSN

Current Career Position:

Currently I am assigned to the Defense Health Agency in the Health Information Technology directorate as the lead for Operational Testing of the new Electronic Health Record for the Department of Defense. My clinical background as a Nurse Practitioner allowed my company to utilize me as a subject matter expert regarding a provider’s needs and challenges associated with patient care workflows and documentation.

Ultimate Career Goal:

Knowing that the future of healthcare will involve even more digital overlap than today, ranging from Electronic Health Records to big data analysis of complex disease management, I hope to be involved at the ground level. I want to ensure that providers have the tools they need to deliver effective and efficient care, while patients have the information they need to understand and participate in the care.

The DNP Degree and Your Goal:

The DNP degree with be essential in helping me reach my goals. My DNP project focused on websites and smartphone apps that are known as Patient Portals. Patient Portals give patients direct access to a variety of healthcare management tools, such as scheduling appointments or obtaining medication refills.  The project identified what was currently working for patients, what was not, and what patients hoped for in the future. This project provided insight that wasn’t always obvious or intuitive.  As the emphasis on electronic tools for patients and providers builds, it will be essential to understand and implement what helps rather than hinders effective healthcare delivery.  This degree provided me with a new vocabulary and understanding of the broader healthcare delivery environment that will certainly help me reach my goals.

Favorite Memory from the DNP Program:

Saturday schools were the highlight of the program.  Interacting with other students, faculty, and guest speakers helped motivate me to continue through all of the reading, writing, and hard work that it took to complete the program.  Each Saturday school energized me to hunker down and continue moving toward the rewarding finish.

Why Emory:

I chose Emory because of the reputation it upheld. When I was ranking schools for my doctorate program after completing my Master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner, Emory was my first choice. I am proud to have completed my DNP program at such an amazing school.


Erin Biscone,DNP,CNM,RN

Current Career Position:

I am currently a Senior Nurse-Midwife at Baylor College of Medicine working primarily in a clinical position.

Ultimate Career Goal:

My ultimate career goal in to improve the overall health and well-being of women and infants. I hope to obtain this goal by increasing the access women and infants have to certified nurses and nurse midwives. I want to focus my career specifically in the Texas area.

The DNP Program and Your Goal:

The DNP program at Emory provided me with the necessary tools to reach my goals. It has prepared me to represent my profession with both confidence and polish. Because of this program, I am able to exemplify nurses at the state governance level as well as the highest levels of leadership at my institution.

Favorite Memory from the DNP Program:

The Semester Saturdays were the most valuable part of DNP program. This is where we not only learned from the faculty, but also from our fellow students. The presentations we made and the presentations we watched prepared us for leadership roles in a way that an online based program could never do.

Why Emory:

Choosing Emory was an easy choice. I chose Emory because of its outstanding reputation. I also chose Emory because this particular DNP in Leadership program offered me a way to add exactly what I needed to my skill set that I could not find anywhere else.


Laura Prado,DNP

Current Career Position:

I currently work as a Nurse Practitioner for a neurosurgeon. I have enjoyed working for him and in this position for the last 15 years.

Ultimate Career Goal:

While I find my current position full-filling and it allows me to grow, I would love to build on what I have accomplished over the last 15 years. My ultimate career goal is to find ways to promote nurse practitioners in surgical careers.

The DNP Program and Your Goal:

The DNP program at Emory gave me the ability to become better-rounded within my nurse practitioner career. Healthcare is always changing and evolving, therefore we need to evolve with it if we want to continue to grow as opportunities arise. This program has allowed me to do just that.

Favorite Memory from the DNP Program:

The thing I enjoyed the most about the DNP Program was the camaraderie of my classmates. Emory is made up of so many different kinds of students, all with different backgrounds. Each of us worked in different clinical environments, however we used our common foundation of nursing to unite us.

Why Emory:
I chose Emory because I knew I would have terrific mentors. Emory is a school with a wonderful reputation and it provides the exciting opportunity to be part of the inaugural class. In addition, I had already received my BSN and MSN from Emory, so it just felt right to come back here for my doctorate.

Welcome AMSN Class of 2019

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing welcomed its newest cohort of Accelerated BSN/MSN students this summer. The Accelerated BSN/MSN program enables students with a non-nursing undergraduate degree to move quickly into a career as an advanced practice nurse or midwife. We catch up with several students to find out how their nursing journey began and why they chose Emory.

Kimberly Gardner


Key Largo, Florida

Undergraduate degree:

Political Science

Why I chose Emory:

I chose Emory because of its excellent nursing program that is ranked fourth in the United States. Emory stood out to me because of its NCLEX pass rate and the big role Emory Healthcare plays in the community. Social responsibility is very important to me and I feel as if Emory is a great leader in this area.

What you hope to get involved with at Emory:

Emory Multicultural Nursing Student Association (EMNSA) and the student government

Dream job:

Working as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA), the nation’s largest health care provider

Interesting factoid:

Served active duty for the United States Air Force

Abigail Dryer


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Undergraduate degree:

English with a minor in Medical Humanities

Why I chose Emory:

I chose Emory because the School of Nursing provided me with a fast-track program. This program allowed me to receive my Bachelor’s degree in nursing alongside a specialized master’s degree. This, plus the well- earned, highly- positive reputation of Emory University, made the choice a seamless one.

What you hope to get involved with at Emory:

Teach yoga classes and volunteer for organizations serving people with disabilities

Dream job:

Working for Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner 

Interesting factoid:

She loves cows; she even had a cow themed birthday party in the fifth grade

Ethan Perkins


Brooklet, Georgia

Undergraduate degree:

Agricultural Science and Environmental Systems

Why I chose Emory:

I chose Emory because of its commitment to excellence in producing many of the country’s top nursing professionals. In addition, I was drawn to Emory’s extensive range of advanced practice specialties and dual degree programs.

What you hope to get involved with at Emory:

Farmworker Family Health Program in Moultrie, Georgia

Dream job:

Serve as an Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in a large, Level 1 Trauma Center, providing care to patients with a wide range of traumatic injuries

Interesting factoid:

Grew up on a farm in South Georgia, where his family raised beef cattle and grew things like cotton and peanuts


We wish this accomplished class well as they begin their nursing journey at Emory University and look forward to seeing the great things from them as they pursue their personal and professional goals in nursing. Best of luck AMSN Class of 2019!



Final Days in Moultrie

Packing up our “clinic” in the elementary school gym!

Setting up our last night camp (with no rain in sight!)

My time working in Moultrie, Georgia has officially come to an end and I’ve now had some time to reflect back on my experience. I had such an incredible and rewarding time and am so thankful I got to be a part of it. Our last night at a camp working with the men finally gave us some perfect weather; we didn’t get rained out and it hadn’t rained earlier in the day so there was no mud to slosh through either. We got to see and help every person that wanted to be seen which doesn’t always happen because of timing or weather, so we were all very happy to end on a positive note.The next morning we went back to the elementary school one last time to finish all of the charts for the kids we’ve seen and to pack up all of the supplies. We all met in the gym at the very end to wrap everything up and to take one last group picture before we left. We all talked about how much we’ve grown from this experience. I became more confident in my own skills, working in a constantly changing environment with multiple different disciplines around me.

Nursing students on a farm tour picking their own vegetables!

I met so many amazing people over the past two weeks. I grew so close with the other nursing students in my program and am so thankful to them for always working so hard and keeping such a positive attitude the entire time (even when I was driving them through some muddy, bumpy, dirt roads on the way to the camps). All of the other nurse practitioner students, pharmacy students, physical therapy students, and dental hygiene students were so incredible to work with and learn from; it was such a unique and rewarding experience to be able to work in such an interdisciplinary setting. The amazing faculty (special shoutout to our fearless leaders Dr. Wold and Dr. Ferranti) were so incredibly helpful and great to learn from; they were all so patient with us but treated us with such respect, allowing us to work independently and grow so much confidence in our nursing practice. None of our work at night could have been possible without our translators that volunteered their time to stay in rainy, bug-filled fields with us until after midnight just to make sure that we could help these men to the best of our abilities. I also wanted to thank all of the local churches that hosted us every single day for lunch and were so kind and inviting. Finally I want to thank the farmworkers for welcoming us into their lives and allowing us to provide medical care. These men work tirelessly all day in such tough conditions for little pay to bring us the affordable fruits and vegetables we eat every day.

Our nursing crew enjoying our last lunch at one of the local churches!

If any current or future nursing students are reading this, I so highly recommend doing the Farmworker Family Health Program and Rural Health course. I have learned so much throughout this program and could not imagine my nursing school experience without these past few weeks!

Cap-Haïtien: Reflection & Return

Every clinical rotation provides its own unique challenges, lessons, and professional growth. However, our time in Cap-Haïtien met these marks tenfold. The calling of our profession is to serve, and while the people we worked with expressed their gratitude for our thorough assessments and treatments, we each gained far more from the Haitian people than we were able to provide. The complexity of healthcare in Haiti cannot be experienced fully in two weeks or expressed in a single blog post. For those of us who have never lived without clean water or consistent electricity, even immersion is not enough to develop true sympathy. We witnessed resilience, heartache, suffering, and joy that doesn’t conform into to words.

Our final day in Haiti was spent on an idyllic beach on the northernmost coast. We all welcomed the reprieve to process our time together, discuss the things we had seen and felt, and soak up of the beauty of Haiti.

– Christine Higgins, FNP & CNM Candidate


Cap-Haïtien: Playtime & Physicals

On Tuesday, we headed out of the beautiful Mont Joli and returned to Hope Haven, where we would be completing well child checks for the day. These checks consisted of not only gathering histories and performing head to toe assessments but also conducting developmental assessments. We were provided with Ages and Stages worksheets to guide us. These forms are typically provided to parents to fill out in the US at every well child check and assist with the provider’s assessment of the development in children in terms of communication, language, fine motor skills, and problem-solving.

There were numerous children there ranging from toddlers to older adolescents. One of the barriers that we faced this day was the lack of translators. Dr. Bussenius

asked us to focus on establishing trust through playful interactions and gathering objective data, so this was an opportunity to sharpen our head to toe assessments and to appreciate the value in simply enjoying the children we played.

In addition to completing the well child checks, we also found that many of these children had similar conditions as others within the community, such as scabies and parasites. We provided treatment and discussed what educational information we would want to provide families with children with these conditions with Dr. Bussenius. This gave us the chance to brainstorm and formulate plans from the role as the provider, with constructive feedback still being provided to us by our instructor. After completing these assessments, we stayed with the children to share in some of the toys, clothes, and treats we brought them from home. Seeing the smiles on their faces and the joy in their eyes simply from the attention we were giving them was truly heartwarming.

– Cortney Kaniewski, PNP-AC Candidate

Cap-Haïtien: Service & Sickness

Sunday, we donned our “Sunday best” and loaded into the tap-tap. We were headed to L’Église Baptise de l’Espoir to attend services with the children from the orphanage. It was wonderful to see the community come together. They were very welcoming to us and shook all of our hands. The service was in Creole which was interesting, but they had Bible verses on the wall and pamphlets in English, which helped us follow along. The service lasted about 2.5 hours, but Dr. Bussenius informed us services can often last up to 4-5 hours!  After church, we dropped off the kids from the orphanage and worked on school assignments.  It was a relaxing day and nice to catch up on work, until…

Monday morning, we woke up ready to set up clinic at the airport. Our day was soon delayed when poor Nicole woke up vomiting. As soon as her first dose of Phenergan was given we headed to the airport. For the next few hours we provided care to the staff at the Cap-Haïtien airport. On this day, we saw about 50 patients. Since it was a smaller population we are able to go to the pool and relax after our clinic. Throughout our afternoon a few more of us began to get sick. This was no surprise to us after doing a little research from the CDC. We found “Protozoal pathogens generally have an incubation period of 1-2 weeks and rarely present in the first few days of travel”. According to guidelines, the sick began taking Flagyl and azithromycin. After dinner, we all crowded in Nicole’s room and took care of her. If you have to be sick when away from home, it’s best to be with nurses!

– Kathryn DeVillers, PNP-AC Candidate & Madison Olkes, FNP Candidate

Cap-Haïtien: Clinics & Culture

Over the next few days, we had many kinds of adventures in our new environment. Each of our clinic sites boasted unique patients, surroundings, and experiences. From the rural mountainside to the private inner-city clinic, we have treated numerous infants, children, and adults principally for infectious etiologies including scabies, giardia, nematodes, and helminths. One unique case that required additional facilitation from the Lillian Carter Center was a young man with pronounced elephantiasis secondary to lymphatic filariasis. He will be traveling the length of Haiti to see a specialist on the Southern Coast.

We have begun to understand the challenges of continuity of care within the Haitian healthcare system. For example, we have continued to monitor the care of the child transferred to the local hospital where is he being worked up for both HIV and TB. With the help of Eternal Hope in Haiti, he will continue to receive care, regardless of ability to pay.

Several of our FNP students had a crash course in the management of sexually transmitted infections and family planning; multiple young women were seen back to back with concerns about reproductive health. The team was able to provide them with extensive education regarding barrier protection and availability of multiple forms of birth control, including Depo-Provera and Nexplanon, at the nearby women’s health clinic.

We have valued our hours off as well. Traversing the Iron Market, where all the locals purchase their clothing, housewares, produce, and meat – sometimes while it is still alive! – was a view into Haitian culture that few foreigners can experience. Haggling at the souvenir markets gave us the opportunity to test our burgeoning Creole. The Citadel, a massive fortress built in the early 1800’s that overlooks the city, provided stunning views of the surrounding mountains and an insight into the complex history of the Haitian government.

– Christine Higgins, FNP & CNM Candidate

Cap-Haïtien: Arrival & Adventures

Note: Wi-Fi in Northern Haiti has been spotty due to frequent storms and power outages. We are thrilled to belatedly share our adventures!

Our day began Monday morning in Atlanta. We caught an early flight to Miami. After a short layover and some Cuban sandwiches, we continued to our final destination: Cap-Haïtien, located on the Northern Coast of Haiti.

We deplaned on the tarmac and jostled our way into the crowded immigration line. Looking for our baggage… we found that it was directly in front of us in the single roomed international airport.

Breezing through the Customs Officers’ inspections, we went outside to meet our fearless leader Dr. Bussenius. We were whisked away in the tap-tap, the double-wide, open bed truck that would remain our sole source of transportation. Wilnick, our constant companion and Haitian guide, rode with us through the bustling city and up the steep hill to arrive at the lovely Mont Joli Hotel.

We made our way down the flowered path to our rooms. After dinner, we settled in for the night excited to begin our immersion clinical experience.

On our first clinic day, we awoke bright and early, excited to get to work.  We piled into the truck and started off through town.  We were surprised to find that Cap Haitien has a rush hour to rival Atlanta’s!

After we got past the traffic, we stopped at the women’s hospital and dropped off two of our students to work for the day.  The rest continued, past the sugarcane fields, down a long county road line with grazing cattle and goats.  Nearing the end of the drive, we were greeted by many people, young and old, walking down the dirt road towards the Eternal Hope Orphanage.  We stopped briefly at the metal gate, which was let open by a guard.  The truck drove through and the gate quickly closed again.

We hopped off the truck and began setting up the clinic in the shady courtyard of the orphanage.  Several members of the team went outside of the gates and began triaging pediatric and adult patients.

Our busy outdoor clinic buzzed with activity as adult and pediatric patients were seen and treated at several different stations. A child was found to be so ill that he needed to be taken to a nearby hospital; two students accompanied him along with our trusted driver, Luken.

With supplies running low, we finished up clinic in the early evening.  We saw 300 patients, more than had ever been seen on a single day.  We headed back to the hotel, tired but happy at the end of a full day.

-Michele Carranza, ENP Candidate

Day 7 and 8 at Moultrie – Going with the Flow

A nursing student checking the hearing of an elementary school student

It’s nearing the end of the last week of our Farmworker Family Health Program trip in Moultrie and I can’t believe my time here is almost done. Every one here has gotten so much into their routine that the days almost seem to meld together, flowing from one task to another. In the past few mornings at the elementary school, we have been seeing the last few kids that needed to go through the stations as well as a few kids that needed to be re-screened if they didn’t pass certain tests or assessments. Wednesday morning I was doing vision screenings with another BSN student and we were testing a boy in the second grade. As we were having him read the shapes in the chart we noticed he could barely make it past the first few lines of shapes and was squinting and leaning forward; after the full assessment it was very obvious he had vision problems and would get a referral to a clinic where he would likely be getting glasses. He was right at the age where having difficulty seeing would make it more difficult for him to learn and pay attention in class and ultimately affect his overall education, but because we were able to catch this problem early, his vision will be able to be corrected. A lot of times doing so many of these screenings for hearing, vision, blood pressure, and blood glucose can seem repetitive, especially if a majority of the kids are healthy, and I sometimes lose sight of the fact that these tests can catch major problems early on for these children.

A view from the camp we worked at Wednesday night

BSN Student, Molly Murphy, providing foot care to one of the farmworkers while two Nurse Practitioner students help assess

On Tuesday night we went to the same camp as Monday night, but this time we were prepared: we knew it was going to be raining again that night so we set up everything inside the screened in building so we didn’t have the delay of relocating all of our supplies and tables inside. It was a small, compact space we were working in but everyone stayed focus and we were able to move around each other without any major collisions. On Wednesday night we were at a new camp that was slightly smaller than the previous two nights so the pace was slow going at first. This came as no surprise to us, but it of course began raining around 30 minutes into seeing the men through the stations. This camp had no coverings to go under, but luckily there was no lightening so we knew we could stay and find a way to continue working. Some of us braved it in the rain with ponchos and umbrellas and others were set up in some collapsable tents where we tried to keep as many people dry as possible. Everything out at these camps is an unexpected adventure and this night was no different.

BSN Student, Jenny Choe, providing education on high blood sugar management with the help of a translator

When we are working with the men, we have amazing translators that are with us at each station as well as with each dental hygiene student, pharmacy student, and the student nurse practitioners as they complete their physicals. However, there aren’t always enough translators to be at every spot we want them so they often have to get relocated where they are most needed at the time, which is what happened to me when I was working at the blood glucose and hemoglobin station when our translator was needed at another location. At first I was worried to be without a translator to help explain to the patient what I was going to be doing and how to explain and educate them on their results, but as I have talked about previously, this group of people here is always so willing to help anyone.We almost immediately had one of the pharmacist students come over to us and offer help translating what she could as we had other nursing students go ask others for some key Spanish phrases to tell and ask the men. Even in times of chaos everyone here is able to pull together and make sure we accomplish the goals we came out here to do. We are seeing one final group of men at a camp tonight and then finishing charting and packing up at the elementary school in the morning. As I write this we have less than 24 hours left on this trip and I hope to enjoy every minute and help everyone I can!




This past Friday, Monday, and Tuesday we spent time with the midwives of Carchá teaching them the same three topics that we taught the midwives in Chisec. That’s where the similarities end though. This group of midwives was vastly different from our first. There was a wider range of education to begin with, some couldn’t write or read and others who could read and write in multiple languages. There were women who were activists trying to fight for more rights for midwives. There was a mother of 19 who had delivered all of her babies herself – two of her daughters were there as midwives with her. There was a woman who had been a nurse for the government and changed to become a midwife.

I like to think that the six days we spent teaching these midwives has changed us all. We complain about salaries and hours and working conditions in the States, but it’s nothing compared to these women. They don’t get paid for anything that they do. They are on call 24/7. They don’t get vacations or sick leave. They walk at night for miles without lights to show them the way and then deliver babies on dirt floors by candlelight. I know they don’t have the same risk of malpractice – but they have a greater risk of maternal/fetal morbidity and mortality.

While I would like to say that all midwives in the States do what they do because they love it, I’d also like to think I’m not naive enough to believe that. The midwives here do this because they view it as a calling from a higher power. They do it for the love of their community and the love of their women. They do it in spite of constantly being put down by the government, of constantly being scorned, of constantly being waved off like they are unimportant – like they’re something less than others. I’m just in awe of them.

Teaching here was harder for all those who did it. We’re tired and languages are harder when your brain isn’t firing as sharply as it normally does. We all struggled to understand and to communicate. We struggled to accommodate the variety of educational levels. We struggled with illnesses taking out two of our more proficient speakers on the last two days. We struggled with patience for each other. It’s definitely been a harder go this time around on all fronts.