Nursing School Leads Radford into Ranks of Doctoral Universities


Radford University will award its first doctoral degrees this summer, an achievement not only for the recipients but also for the university as it joins seven other Virginia public universities granting doctorates.

DeEtta Compton of Radford and Arneda Faye Lyons of Dublin will receive their doctorates of nursing practice (DNP) in August, said Kimberly F. Carter, director of the School of Nursing in Radford’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services.

“This is a milestone in the history of the university and a huge honor for the School of Nursing and for the Waldron College,” Carter said. “We are proud of our first two doctoral nurses and deeply grateful to everyone who made their success possible.”

The DNP program enrolled its first cohort of 32 students in August 2010 and is the only such university program in Virginia offered entirely online. It is also the only online program in Virginia that accepts post-baccalaureate nursing graduates for doctoral study.

Designed to address a critical need for more nurses with advanced-practice skills – midwives, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners – the DNP program this fall will add a track in psychiatric mental health through an agreement with Shenandoah University in Winchester.

Dennis Grady, dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, said, “Service to others is a mission central to Radford University. We are proud of the devoted faculty members who have worked over four years to prepare a DNP program that meets the health care needs of the commonwealth and are delighted that its first graduates have accepted this challenge.”

The DNP is one of Radford’s three doctoral programs. The doctor of psychology in counseling program admitted its first students in fall 2008 and anticipates awarding its first degree in summer 2012. The university’s doctor of physical therapy program enrolled its first students in June.

“The addition of doctoral programs to RU enhances the quality of the institution as a whole,” Grady said.

DNP graduates Compton and Lyons both chose the nurse practitioner track for their doctorates. Both held master’s degrees in nursing from Radford when they enrolled in the doctoral program, positioning them to complete it in a year.

Compton, a nurse practitioner with the Hospitalist Group at Carilion Clinic New River Valley in Christiansburg, said of the program, “It’s rigorous. You have to be very disciplined to do it and work full time.”

She sees herself staying in her current job. “I like the clinical component of what I do,” she said. “I’m doing my job better now because of the DNP experience.”

Lyons, who works at Carilion Internal Medicine of Galax and Hillsville, said balancing her job with family responsibilities – she and her husband have a 7-year-old daughter – meant “a lot of late nights.” She also will stay in her current job but has been inspired by her DNP studies to write for peer-reviewed journals. She has one article nearing completion and two more in the works.  
The university will honor Compton, Lyons and their families at a reception with Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle on campus Sept. 19 and at winter commencement exercises in December.

Jul 27, 2011
Deanne Estrada