Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Federal grant will help WSU-trained nurse practitioners address primary care shortage

Portrait of a nurse practitioner using a stethoscope on a patient.

A new federal grant received by the WSU College of Nursing will help train nurse practitioners to address a critical shortage of primary-care providers in rural areas across Eastern Washington.

Called WSU-ANEW, the two-year, $1.3 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration promotes nurse practitioner education in several ways. Dr. Janet Purath, project director and an Associate Professor at the WSU College of Nursing, noted in her grant application that 19 of 20 Eastern Washington counties are considered primary care shortage areas, and 18 of 20 counties are designated rural.

WSU-ANEW creates a formal partnership between the WSU College of Nursing and CHAS Health, the Community Health Association of Spokane. That partnership includes a joint appointment of a Nurse Practitioner Faculty in Residence, who will use the real-world clinical and organizational challenges faced by CHAS providers to help enhance curriculum at the College of Nursing.

The WSU College of Nursing’s clinical doctorate, the Doctor of Nursing Practice, qualifies students to take a national exam to become licensed as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) with specialization as a Family Nurse Practitioner or as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The degree is offered on WSU campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver. CHAS is a nonprofit that provides medical, dental, pharmacy and behavioral health services to patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Portrait of a nurse practitioner using a stethoscope on a patient.
In many states, nurse practitioners can operate independent practices including the ability to diagnose and treat illness, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications.

In addition, the WSU-ANEW project will provide traineeships to 15 to 30 nurse practitioner students at the WSU College of Nursing. Eligible students will receive tuition reimbursement and stipends if they agree to be trained primarily in rural health clinics or clinics providing care to underserved populations. The grant project also will create a marketing program to connect nurse practitioner graduates to jobs in primary care in rural and underserved areas.

Said Dr. Purath, “We know from educational research that students trained in clinics that provide care to underserved people are more likely to practice in those clinics after graduation,” and this project supports that notion.

Many states, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho, allow nurse practitioners to operate independent practices with the ability to diagnose and treat illness, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications.

Camp Stix offers a ‘powerful’ lesson for nursing students

Group of nursing students standing arm in arm at Camp Stix.
Group of nursing students standing arm in arm at Camp Stix.
Some of the WSU College of Nursing students who are volunteering at 2017 Camp Stix. From left: Daniel Lyakhov, Lauren McClanahan, Brian Sandvig, Sarah Gibson, Jenny Irish, and Lauren Gerty.

By Addy Hatch

CUSICK, Wash. – The kids at Camp Stix make arts and crafts, swim, and play AWOL, a camp-wide game of hide-and-seek. It’s like any other summer camp, and that’s the point.

Most of the nearly 200 campers have Type 1 diabetes. It would be hard, maybe impossible, for them to go to summer camp if not for Camp Stix and its large medical team, specialized menus and 1-to-1 camper-to-staff ratio.

WSU nursing and pharmacy students are among the medical volunteers. The students work in interdisciplinary teams with medical professionals in a gym that’s renamed MASH during Camp Stix. There are tables where campers come to have their blood sugar tested before each meal and snack, and MASH volunteers make nightly rounds of cabins to monitor kids whose blood sugar has been trending lower, said “Jackpot” Jacob McGowan, director of Camp Stix (where staff all have camp names).

Photo of Lauren McClanahan with a bright vest that says MASH
WSU College of Nursing student Lauren McClanahan is working in the medical building at Camp Stix, called MASH.

Many of the College of Nursing students who are volunteering at the week-long camp say they’re getting experience in patient care, communications and teamwork that would be hard to replicate in the classroom.

“It feels like I’m out there in the RN world,” said “Sourpatch” Sarah Baker.

Students are eased into their roles during the week-long camp, noted “Langerhans” Lori Parisot, a College of Nursing instructor who’s spending her second year at Camp Stix.

“By the end of the week they’re making a lot of decisions about how to treat children with diabetes,” she said. “Their confidence will be so much bigger. It’s one of the best medical experiences you can have.”

College of Nursing faculty and students have a long connection with Camp Stix, which is in its 17th year. In recent years it’s been held at the Riverview Bible Camp on the Pend Oreille River near Cusick, Wash.

“We always hear about how powerful this camp is,” said “BOHB” Brian Sandvig, a senior nursing student.

“Electric” Emma Trayte, 21, is a camp counselor now, but she first attended Camp Stix as a teenager with Type 1 diabetes. “The most important part is the normalcy, being able to see and connect with kids who have the same struggles,” she said.

Photo of two boys at Camp Stix.
Hunter, 13, and James, 12, met at this year’s Camp Stix. Both have been to camp in the past.

Hunter, 13, is from Walla Walla, and is spending his fourth summer at Camp Stix. He said he feels comfortable there, “because everybody has diabetes.” Elizabeth, also 13, is from Orofino, Idaho, and it’s her first time at camp. “Everybody has a good time, singing songs, the skits are hilarious,” she said. “Everybody has a blast.”

The MASH volunteers gather as a group in the morning for updates and announcements, and to “shout out” to their colleagues. They end the session with a group huddle. “Why do we do this?” yells MASH medical director “Bronco” Bill Martin, a physician assistant who specializes in pediatric endocrinology.  “BECAUSE WE CARE!” the group responds.

Said Parisot, of the WSU College of Nursing, “People have a real heart for this. The motto here is, “Until there’s a cure, there’s camp.”

View photo album»

About Camp Stix: The camp is held for a week in July, and there’s a related day camp for younger kids, Camp Twigs, held at Dart-Lo Day Camp. Both are run by Camp Stix Diabetes Programs, a 501(c)3 nonprofit . The camp is funded by camper tuition, and public and private donations. For information or to donate, visit

WSU College of Nursing students participating in 2017 Camp Stix:

  • “Lavagirl” Lauren Gerty
  • “Lemondrop” Lauren McClanahan
  • “BOHB” Brian Sandvig
  • “Sweetart” Sarah Gibson
  • “Jugular” Jenny Irish
  • “Dawn Phenom” Daniel Lyakhov
  • “Sourpatch” Sarah Baker
  • “Ramble” Rachel Felgenhauer
  • “Bit-o-Honey” Brianna Bartlett
  • “Effervescent” Elyse Beckett
  • “Klickster” Kris Wood

Anita Hunter’s passion to help others took her around the world

A sign for Holy Innocents Children's Hospital in Mbarara, Uganda
Dr. Anita Hunter feeds a giraffe at an animal sanctuary in Uganda, Africa.
Dr. Anita Hunter with a giraffe at an animal sanctuary in Uganda.

By Addy Hatch

Anita Hunter has traveled the globe, but the pediatric nurse practitioner, professor and academic leader didn’t hit the tourist spots. Instead, she chose destinations where people were suffering and she believed she could help: Ghana, Belfast, Tijuana, Uganda.

But that traveling is over for WSU College of Nursing’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Accreditation. Hunter, PhD, MSN, RN, FAAN, said a recent trip to Uganda was her last.

“After 22 years I’ve got to call a stop,” said the 71-year-old. “I can’t physically sustain the stress of those trips.” Getting to Mbarara, Uganda, for example, takes 24 to 36 hours each way, including multiple flights and a 6-hour drive once she lands in the East African country.

She made the decision that her recent trip to Uganda would be her last several days before she left the country. “It was a very emotional time,” Hunter said. Bringing health care and improved public health to communities internationally “has been a passion of mine for a very long time.”  » More …

Dr. Janet Katz named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing

portrait of Dr. Janet Katz
portrait of Dr. Janet Katz
Dr. Janet Katz has been named a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Dr. Janet Katz, Professor at the WSU College of Nursing, has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Katz will be inducted into the Academy in a ceremony in October.

She is one of 173 nurse leaders worldwide selected for induction as an Academy fellow. Selection criteria includes evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care, and sponsorship by two current Academy fellows. Applicants are judged based in part on how their nursing career has influenced health policies and public health.

Dr. Katz has worked extensively to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce, and is currently principle investigator on a federal grant to increase the number of disadvantaged, Native American and Hispanic students from rural areas in health sciences professions. She also is principle investigator for a project focusing on preventing substance abuse and suicide among young members of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Her research has included academic-practice partnerships with Native American tribes in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. She coordinates nursing programs for the Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Sciences Institute held annually at WSU Spokane, and teaches community health. She holds a PhD in Education, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

With the induction of the latest group of fellows in October, the American Academy of Nursing will have more than 2,500 fellows in all 50 states and 29 countries around the world.

“The fellows are nurse leaders in education, management, practice, policy and research,” the American Academy of Nursing said in a news release. “Academy fellows include hospital and government administrators, college deans, and renowned scientific researchers.”

For more information on the WSU College of Nursing, visit

For more information on the American Academy of Nursing, visit

Na-ha-shnee Health Sciences Institute under way at WSU Spokane

A counselor shows a teenage participant in Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Sciences Institute how to measure blood pressure.
A counselor shows a teenage participant in Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Sciences Institute how to measure blood pressure.
A counselor shows a teenage participant in Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Sciences Institute how to measure blood pressure.

By Addy Hatch

For more than two decades, Native American and Alaska Native teenagers have headed to Washington State University in the summer to learn about careers in the health sciences. This year, 24 young women and men representing 20 tribal nations arrived on Sunday for 11 days of workshops, field trips, personal wellness and exercise sessions – all part of the Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Sciences Institute.

Sarah Burke once was one of those students. The member of the Lummi Nation, near Bellingham, attended Na-ha-shnee three times. She’s back as a counselor this summer, after finishing her first semester at the WSU College of Nursing. She wants to go on to get a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and become a Family Nurse Practitioner.

“I want to go back to my reservation and work at a clinic there,” she said.

Na-ha-shnee participants learn about careers in nursing, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy and more. They take classes in writing for college scholarships and in CPR. They learn yoga and Zumba, and take part in circle times, a talent show and counseling sessions.

Talon, 17, is a Na-ha-shnee camper for the second time. He wants to be a biomedical engineer, and said the camp has been “a great experience to learn more about the medical field and what we need to do to get to our goal.”

A male student looks at a human skull.
A student takes part in the Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Sciences Institute on the WSU Spokane campus.

Auriel, 15, wants to be a pediatric nurse or nurse anesthetist. She also is a second-time participant.

Emma Noyes, Interim Director of Native American Health Sciences at WSU, said there are many success stories of campers going on to careers in the health sciences.

The Native American Health Sciences Institute is paid for by sponsors, so participants arrange only for transportation to and from WSU Spokane. The program is open to Native American and Alaska Native students in the 9th-11th grades, who have a GPA of 3.0 or above and an interest in health sciences as a profession.

Noyes said Native American communities in both rural and urban areas are facing health-provider workforce shortages. “Na-ha-shnee aims to inspire the Native American health leaders of the future, who will be committed to improving health and wellness in high-need areas,” she said.

See WSU Spokane staff photographer Cori Kogan’s images of the event on flickr


Thank you to our generous sponsors:

WSU College of Nursing Trude Smith Endowment; WSU College of Medicine; Muckleshoot Indian Tribe; Snoqualmie Tribe; David and Dorothy Pierce Trust; Tulalip Tribes; STCU; Numerica Credit Union; Wells Fargo; and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Camas Path Behavioral Health Program and Camas Center Recreation & Fitness Program.

WSU nursing students who are ROTC cadets training in Germany

WSU College of Nursing students Nick Castro, left, and Brianne Harder, right, with 2016 College of Nursing grad, 2nd Lt. Jaclyn Sison at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
WSU College of Nursing students Nick Castro, left, and Brianne Harder, right, with 2016 College of Nursing grad, 2nd Lt. Jaclyn Sison at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
WSU College of Nursing students Nick Castro, left, and Brianne Harder, right, with 2016 College of Nursing grad, 2nd Lt. Jaclyn Sison at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.


What did you do during summer break?

WSU College of Nursing students Brianne Harder and Nick Castro worked in the largest military hospital outside the United States – Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany – learning clinical skills and getting an idea of the responsibilities they’ll take on as Army Nurse Corps Officers.

Harder and Castro are ROTC cadets. After they graduate from the College of Nursing in May they’ll be commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants in the U.S. Army, where both envision careers as Army nurses.

They were chosen to participate in the month-long Nurse Summer Training Program at Landstuhl with cadets from around the country. They work with preceptors on 12-hour shifts, Harder in labor and delivery and Castro in the ICU. One of their mentors at Landstuhl is 2nd Lt. Jaclyn Sison, a 2016 BSN graduate from the WSU College of Nursing. All the cadets will produce a group project at the end of the internship. “Then we can spend the rest of our time traveling and seeing Germany,” Harder said via email.

After they’re commissioned and pass the NCLEX exam, they’ll be sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for the Army’s Basic Officer Leader Course. They’ll work for two years in Med/Surg before moving on to their specialties of choice – ICU for Castro and either Peds or ER for Harder.

Both Harder and Castro said being involved in ROTC has been gratifying.

Said Castro, “ROTC has provided me with opportunities to grow as a person and as a future nurse for the United States Army.”

Gordana Dermody named to national CNL certification board

Portrait of Gordana (Dana) Dermody
Portrait of Gordana (Dana) Dermody
Gordana Dermody, Phd, RN, CNL

Gordana Dermody, PhD, RN, CNL, has been named to the board of the Commission on Nurse Certification, which manages the Clinical Nurse Leader certification program. Dermody, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the WSU College of Nursing, will join the board on July 1 and will serve a three-year term.

The Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) Board of Commissioners is an autonomous arm of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and is responsible for the policies and administration of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) certification program.

The CNL credential is given to graduates of master’s and post-master’s programs who meet all eligibility requirements and pass the CNL Certification Examination. Earning the credential demonstrates proficiency on a set of national standards and a broad base of knowledge beyond the RN licensure. Since the CNL was introduced in 2006, 5,350 nurses have earned the credential.

Dermody’s nursing experience includes hospice, long-term care, occupational health, acute care medical oncology, stroke and cardiac care. She became CNL certified in 2011 and is a past board member of the Clinical Nurse Leader Association. She has worked to improve quality of care in nursing internationally, most recently on promoting the Clinical Nurse Leader role in Japan.

Barbara Richardson honored for founding Youth Leadership Spokane

Portrait of Barb Richardson holding a microphone with a group of teenagers behind her.
Portrait of Barb Richardson holding a microphone with a group of teenagers behind her.
Dr. Barb Richardson with participants in the Health Care Teen Challenge in 2016. Photo by Cori Kogan.


More than 600 area teenagers have learned civic responsibility, leadership, communications and team-building in the last 20 years through Youth Leadership Spokane, a program founded by Barbara Richardson, now a faculty member at the WSU College of Nursing.

“There was a critical need to engage youth in our community,” Richardson said Friday of her work in 1996-97 getting Youth Leadership Spokane off the ground. “Hard for me to believe that I started YLS before this year’s participants were even born.”

With a background as a pediatric nurse and nurse educator, Richardson was a 1992 graduate of Leadership Spokane, a civic education and networking organization. Once she launched the youth version, she would go on to serve as director of the program for 13 years, as well as an elected member of the Spokane Public Schools board for six years.

She left Youth Leadership Spokane to pursue a PhD at the WSU College of Nursing, and now directs Riverpoint Interprofessional Education and Research, where she brings together students from different colleges and programs to help foster teamwork in a health care setting. She’s been honored with a YWCA of Spokane Professional Woman of Achievement award in 2006, and the National Community Leadership Association Distinguished Leadership Award in 2002.

“Barb Richardson is an example of the leadership we see across the nursing profession,” said WSU College of Nursing Dean Joyce Griffin-Sobel. “Nurses impact their communities in so many ways.”

Brian Newberry, executive director of Leadership Spokane, said Richardson “exemplifies what we hope for in our great alumni – stepping up.” He added, “Barb is an outstanding alumni whose vision and dream are now a reality that keeps lighting the way.”

Richardson was honored at the Leadership Spokane graduation ceremony Thursday. She said she’s most proud of the fact that the Youth Leadership Spokane program she spearheaded has continued to grow and thrive, “making a positive difference in the lives of 600-plus diverse teens, providing them with opportunities to contribute in countless positive ways to our community, and giving them the knowledge, skills, and experiences to make servant leadership a part of their lives wherever they may go.”

Q and A: Dr. Wendy Buenzli on nursing education in Vietnam

Dr. Wendy Buenzli standing in front of a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Portrait of Dr. Wendy Buenzli standing in front of the hospital where she volunteered in May.
Dr. Wendy Buenzli in Vietnam in May. 

By Addy Hatch

Graduate nursing education is still rare in Vietnam, with just a half-percent of nurses and midwives holding a master’s degree, according to the World Health Organization.

In 1991, three nurses from the United States proposed a volunteer network of doctorally-prepared instructors to help improve nursing education and practice in Vietnam. Their reasoning: elevating nursing education helps improve public health because nurses are the largest group of health care providers in most countries. Their Friendship Bridge Nurses Group began supplying instructors to the first nursing graduate program in Vietnam, at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City.

Dr. Wendy Buenzli, Associate Clinical Professor and newly named Director of the RN-BSN Program at the WSU College of Nursing, took part in the exchange program in May. Here are some of her thoughts on the experience:

Q: Tell us about the Friendship Bridge program.

A: Nurse educators in the United States who have a PhD partner with a Vietnamese college to develop a sustainable graduate program. In Ho Chi Minh City (with a population of 8.4 million) there are only two PhD nurses. In all of Vietnam there are only five. So in order to have sustainable education they have to use faculty from the U.S.

A group of students and the two American nursing educators who volunteered there in May.
Dr. Wendy Buenzli and students from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Q: How do you get involved?

A: I applied and was accepted. It’s a two-week experience, and you also represent your college while you’re there.

Q: What did you teach?

A: I taught community health content, in English with a translator. You’re teaching and training junior faculty while also teaching master’s-prepared courses. There were 25 students, and (she and the other volunteer, from Gonzaga University) would teach from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day with afternoons spent engaging the students in activities. I was amazed at the students’ high quality of work and at how hard they worked. They were having to learn graduate content taught in English; it made me grateful I was able to get a graduate education in my native language. They’ll graduate with master’s degrees.

Q: What else did you do while you were there?

A: We got to see a hospital – it was really eye-opening. Nurses are taking 18-30 patients, and in pre-op, there were two patients to one bed. They didn’t have any pumps so nurses were calculating drip rates (for IVs). The hospital sees 4,000 to 5,000 outpatients every day, and there are 1,200 beds housing 2,400 patients. (Editor’s note: The Vietnamese government said in a 2011 study that serious overcrowding is a problem at all hospitals in the country. The study said it’s common to have two to three patients per bed and doctors who see 60-100 patients a day).

Q: What were your take-aways?

A: There’s a dedication to nursing education. The government is looking at having the BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) as the entry to nursing practice. The university wanted a quality of nursing program that would allow graduates to be able to work anywhere in Asia.

Q: Anything else?

A: Because it was Nurses Week when I was there, I pinned the students with WSU pins I brought from home.

Community fitness program helped overweight teens in Coeur d’Alene

Image of two feet in running shoes.

Image of two feet in running shoes.

By Addy Hatch, College of Nursing

Five years ago, researchers in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, wanted to test whether overweight teenagers would be receptive to a community-based fitness program that included exercise, goal-setting, and nutrition coaching.

As it turned out, finding 20 overweight teens who wanted to take part “was the easiest recruitment I ever had for a study,” said Dr. Marian Wilson, an assistant professor at the WSU College of Nursing. “We had kids lining up to get their BMI measured.”

And it worked – at the end of the 12-week study, the teens showed improvement in blood pressure, they could do more push-ups and sit-ups, they could walk faster on a treadmill, their “screen time” was down and they expressed greater confidence. The results of the study have just been published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care.

Shawn Burke brought the idea for the community-based fitness program to Wilson when she was clinical research coordinator at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene. Burke worked as a personal trainer and saw a need, he said.  » More …