Group photo of DNP students in Spokane
Doctor of Nursing Practice students who presented their practice-improvement projects in Spokane on April 27, 2017. Other students presented projects via video link from WSU Vancouver. 

The WSU College of Nursing will graduate its largest-ever class of DNP students next week. The 23 students from across the state cleared their last hurdle with the presentation of projects on Thursday. 

The Doctor of Nursing Practice is a clinically focused doctoral program, as opposed to the research-focused PhD. Many DNPs go on to careers as Family Nurse Practitioners or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, or work in education or health care leadership.

Because the DNP degree focuses on evidence-based practice and quality improvement, the 23 projects presented by WSU College of Nursing students this week all had the goal of transforming medical practice. The subjects were broad: there were mentoring projects, a pilot program to address obesity, a tool for the treatment of depression, and one project on recycling.

“The DNP-prepared nurse represents a critical intersection in health care, where credible research findings are applied in clinical practice settings,” says Anne Mason, DNP Program Director at the WSU College of Nursing. “This isn’t a simple process. What students learn is not only to evaluate the scientific literature but to creatively organize that literature into meaningful practice changes. That can include changing the culture of a clinical setting, changing beliefs about best practice, changing day-to-day practice habits, organizing an interprofessional team, and sometimes all of these efforts at once.”

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing decided in 2004 to endorse the DNP as the preferred preparation for advanced nursing practice. The WSU College of Nursing launched its DNP degree program in 2012 and has graduated 42 students, not including the 23 who’ll graduate next week. The DNP degree is offered on WSU campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver.

Some of the 2017 class projects presented Wednesday were:

  • Kathy Patterson developed a pilot program to help patients who have chronic pain from fibromyalgia. Evidence has shown that increased exercise and knowing more about the condition are two changes patients can make to decrease the impact of fibromyalgia on their daily lives. Patterson had patients keep a daily exercise log, and asked them to complete at least one module a week on a fibromyalgia website. Then she had a nurse call the patients each week to check their progress. At the end of 10 weeks both goals were exceeded; the patients exercised more and completed the information modules. The clinic that treated the patients and the patients themselves said they wanted the pilot to continue.
  • Ysabel Myers used an online tool to track the incidence of falls among patients in one hospital unit. She helped the nurses in that unit link the online reporting tool to the electronic records system they were already using, an improvement on the previous paper forms. Her database showed which conditions were common to patients who fell while hospitalized, and prompted specific recommendations on how to adjust care for those people to help reduce falls. The online reporting tool is still in use in that hospital unit, she said.
  • Stephanie Gardnier’s project started with work chatter. Gardnier, who participates on a neonatal/pediatric transport team for a children’s hospital, said emergency medical technicians would complain about missing equipment in the gear bags used by the team. Using “S5” lean management principles, she reorganized the gear and streamlined the processes used to inventory and maintain it. Now one person can carry all the gear needed, which wasn’t possible before, and 100 percent of the people on the team said it is more efficient.

The other DNP projects presented:

  • Carrie EstuarPromoting Communication in an Outpatient Surgical Clinic Utilizing a TeamSTEPPS Approach: A Quality Improvement Project
  • Elizabeth PhennegerImproving GPRA Measures at Wellpinit Health Clinic: A Quality Improvement Project
  • Marnie SmithMentoring to Enhance Teamwork
  • Brandie Tilch-BryantStrategic Plan to Initiate a Recycling Pilot Program
  • Christy ChantarathObesity Reduction through Culturally-Sensitive Targeted Education for Adult Hispanic Women: A Pilot Program Implemented in a Church Setting
  • Jacob FrancoDepression Treatment Algorithm in a Primary Care Setting: A Quality Improvement Project
  • Dawn DePriestImplementing Interprofessional Collaborative Care in a Teaching Health Clinic
  • Kim ShipleySharps Safety in the Surgical Department: A Quality Improvement Project
  • Christina ChaconDeveloping a Primary Care Referral Process for Assertive Community Treatment Patients: A Quality Improvement Project
  • Oliver Uy – A Diabetic Education Pilot Project: Development and Implementation
  • Jocelyn GlessingEarlier Screening Needed to Slow Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Brittany CollierEvaluation of a Mentoring Project
  • Amy RyllManagement of Non-Sports Related Head Injuries by School Nurses
  • Ciara SmithOnline Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Program for Insulin-Dependent Type 2 Diabetics
  • Lyzz StewartChanging Political Astuteness in Nurse Managers and Executives
  • Patti JordanPediatric Oral Health and Fluoride Varnish Use by Primary Care Providers
  • Michelle SimmonsThe Role of Mindfulness in Reducing Stress and Compassion Fatigue in Health Care Professionals
  • Madeline GoldmannDiabetic Knowledge among Somali Refugees with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Laurie WomackEvaluating Opiate Use Disorder Treatment Outcomes
  • Liz FarrellAssessing the Provision of Chronic Hepatitis C Treatment to Rural Veterans


Information on the WSU College of Nursing’s DNP programs is available at https://nursing/

For more photos from the DNP project presentation in Spokane, visit