Public Affairs, The California State University

CSU Awards First Nursing Doctorates

by Elizabeth Chapin

Prepared for advanced practice, research, teaching and leadership roles in nursing, the 59 graduates in the CSU’s first doctor of nursing practice (DNP) cohort are already changing the face of nursing in California.

Initiated in 2012, DNP became one of three new doctoral programs in the CSU. The program is designed to prepare nurses for advanced practice and to educate future nursing faculty to meet complex and changing healthcare needs.

See how a few of the DNP’s 2014 cohort of graduates are already making an impact:

Chris PrattyChristopher Pratty
Christopher Pratty works at a hospital near Fresno and teaches part-time at Fresno Pacific University. When Pratty needed to earn a doctoral degree in order to continue teaching, he was attracted to the CSU’s DNP program because it was close to home and had a strong educational foundation. The choice was easy.

Pratty’s doctoral research is focused on improving the way small hospitals identify medications that are potentially harmful for certain patients. He helped his hospital reduce medication harm by adopting a streamlined medication survey used by larger hospitals.

“Going forward, we will know precisely what type of medications harm certain patients and we can take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening,” Pratty said, noting that he plans to continue to apply research to his practice.

“As practitioners, we always have questions about the best way to do things. There is no average hospital and there is no average setting,” Pratty said. “It’s important that we continue to be problem solvers.”

Barbara AronBarbara Aron
By promoting simple lifestyle changes, Barbara Aron prevented the onset of diabetes in a number of her patients. The nurse practitioner studied prediabetic patients at her own private practice and found that those who received a 20 minute consultation about diet and exercise were able to reduce their chances of getting diabetes.

Over a three month period, the patients lost an average of 8-15 lbs and improved cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Aron has now adopted this consultation practice as a preventative measure with all of her patients who are prediabetic.

Since entering the DNP program, Aron has earned more respect among her colleagues. She’s been offered a faculty teaching position and was asked to sit on advisory committees for major primary care organizations including WellPoint.

“As a nurse practitioner, I am responsible for people’s lives. This is something that I feel deserves the very highest level of education,” Aron said. “DNP gives me parity with my physician colleagues.”

Anna CarchiAnna Carchi
Anna Carchi works in a hospital that serves a primarily underrepresented population. A high rate of congestive heart failure among patients there has led to increased readmission rates. Carchi identified a solution to lower those rates to comply with changing healthcare regulation.

“The Affordable Care Act has created unique challenges for inpatient hospitals,” Carchi said. “One of those is readmission rates. If a patient is released and readmitted within 30 days, their costs may not be fully covered.”

Carchi examined the readmission rates of patients who had a physician with those who had a physician and an acute care nurse practitioner.  She found that readmission rates were lower with the addition of an acute care practitioner, indicating better patient management.

Carchi’s study is one of the first to focus on acute care in an inpatient setting. She hopes the results will lead to more acute care in inpatient settings.

“With all of the changes coming from healthcare reform, it’s important that practitioners are creative so they can continue to develop strategies to provide high-quality care that is still cost-effective,” Carchi said. “DNP has helped me become a problem solver.”

The CSU’s DNP programs consist of a Northern California consortium offered jointly by Fresno and San José State and a Southern California consortium offered jointly by Fullerton, Long Beach and Los Angeles. Learn more at calstate.edu/dnp