On her first day of class as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student in Southern California, Manuela Orban knew it was a stepping stone degree. Fast forward to December 2014, when Manuela graduated with her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. During her course work, she completed the required clinical hours at Family Medical Care in Hayden, ID, where one of the physicians provided her with inspiration for her final DNP project. Manuela evaluated the clinic’s weight loss program and its effectiveness–something that had never been done at the clinic.
“When I was assigned the final DNP project, I spoke with Dr. Torquato here about identifying an area I can investigate for the clinic. We decided I would focus on the clinic’s weight-loss program for patients. Dr. Torquato is so passionate about health promotion, nutrition, and exercise. He has had success with the program, though he never was able to capture how well it
worked,” Manuela said.
Manuela reviewed patient data from those who had completed the program in the last four years. She analyzed various patient markers including BMI, hemoglobin, blood pressure and glucose levels, and measured how they had changed for patients while they were enrolled in the program. Using
this data, she compared it to national standards and determined the clinic’s program was in fact effective for patient weigh loss.
“The weight loss program incorporates all the elements identified in literature as essential for effective weight-loss interventions and improved health outcomes: intense nutrition, exercise, and multi-component behavioral counseling including goal-setting, action plans, identification of barriers, action plans to overcome barriers, and continued self-monitoring. These outcomes matched or exceeded outcomes of successful weight loss programs reported in literature.”
Manuela felt the project was essential in preparing her for practice.
“The DNP project helped me identify and go through the steps of a program evaluation, which I believe will be important in the future in both understanding and conducting program evaluations.”
Manuela, in collaboration with Assistant Professor Catherine Van Son, submitted her project abstract to the Christian Journal of Nursing in January. In addition, she will present her project in a poster at the Western Institute of Nursing conference in April 2015.
She passed her FNP board exam in early 2015 and became a family nurse practitioner for a healthcare clinic in Eastern Washington.
When Jeff Schilt was only 21-years-old, he received news that shook him to his core. A recent skin evaluation indicated he had early stages of melanoma. The situation allowed Jeff to find his passion
in nursing— providing sun safety education to patients.
Using sun safety as the inspiration for his final DNP project, “Sun Safety Education for Adolescent Patients,” he chose to focus on the adolescent population because of the opportunity to reach them and make a change. Jeff then sought feedback from dermatologists and providers around adolescent sun safety education.
“When I asked primary care providers if they covered sun safety information with adolescents and parents, and if they did it well, the answer was pretty consistently, ‘no,’ or ‘I’d like to, but I am just too busy,’” Jeff said.
In response, Jeff developed a continuing education module for providers to use to quickly absorb key sun-safety information. After distributing the modules and surveying providers, Jeff received positive feedback and found that the intervention was successful in motivating providers to look more closely at providing education to adolescents about sun safety.
“This type of work is what is exciting to me. Using evidence-based practice makes sense; we can’t keep doing the same things over and over when new information is available. The DNP brings nurse practitioners to the table and allows us to shape practice and make waves in a positive way that will improve healthcare and healthcare delivery,” Jeff said.
Jeff’s project is already making a difference, impacting the way some providers will deliver healthcare information to their patients.
“I was particularly impressed by the possibilities of utilizing technology to impact healthcare. The sun safety media project I created received a positive response. A number of participants indicated their interest in the creation of a similar media project that they could share with their patients.”
Jeff recently submitted his project to the American Association of Nurse
Practitioners as a continuing education module. He now works as a Nurse Practitioner at pediatrics clinic where he can focus on behavioral and mental health issues in children. He also works part-time in urgent care.