First cohort of BSN to DNP graduates complete program and celebrate their doctorates

Walker, DNP embraces son at ceremony

Jerusalem Walker receives a congratulatory hug from one of her sons as she is recognized as one of six Doctorate of Nursing Practice graduates at the Celebration of BSN to DNP ceremony on Monday, Aug. 18,  in Radford University's COBE multi-purpose room.

While the rest of Radford University was preparing for the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year, the Waldron College of Health and Human Services School of Nursing celebrated the first cohort of students to complete its BSN to DNP program on Monday, Aug. 19, in the COBE multi-purpose room.

The RU BSN to DNP program prepares individuals who already hold bachelor’s degrees in nursing as advanced practice nurses. RU's program was among the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be offered in an online distance-learning format and allows students to complete their clinical rotations in their home regions.

Six students - Rebecca Biersbach, Meredith Drew, Nichole Hall, Amy Johnson, Susan Martin and Jerusalem Walker- will be formally recognized as advanced practitioners of nursing practice at the December graduate hooding ceremony. Their completion of the 81-credit hour program that required over 1,000 hours of clinical work and a capstone research project was cause for Monday's celebration.

"I can offer my patients so much more now and practice at a much higher level," said Martin, who completed the program while working as an emergency room nurse at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital and raising a family of five. "I still want to be Susan, not necessarily Dr. Martin, though."

The 2013 RU BSN to DNP class, with guests.

The 2013 RU BSN to DNP class, with guests. From left: Virginia Burggraf, DNP program director; Susan Martin, Meredith Drew, Jerusalem Walker, RU Provost Sam Minner, Nichole Hall, Rebecca Biersbach, Amy Johnson, Tony Ramsey, director of the School of Nursing.

"It is wonderful to call you 'Doctor' and colleague," said Graduate Coordinator Virginia Burggraf. Tony Ramsey, director of the School of Nursing, lauded the original six for "their graceful navigation of a most difficult program."

The next and final challenge facing the six practicing registered nurses who began the program in August 2010 will be passage of their board certification exams.

"We are all fortunate beneficiaries of your calling to this profession," said RU Provost Sam Minner as he opened the event. "It is a great calling and your skills and expertise are desperately needed in today's society.

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Aug 21, 2013
Don Bowman
(540) 831-7523