December 15, 2016 12:00PM
Founded in 1903, the institution that is now Pittsburg State University, conferred its first bachelor’s degrees in 1913. The first master’s degrees were conferred in 1930 and the first specialist in education (Ed.S) degree in 1962. On Friday, Dec. 16, PSU observed another milestone when it confers its first doctoral degrees on the 12 students who have just completed PSU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program.
“It is such a gratifying feeling to finally see our first Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates!” said Cheryl Giefer, interim director of PSU’s Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing. “The graduation of our inaugural DNP class in the very same semester we achieved a positive CCNE accreditation visit for our DNP Program is monumental in the history of the School of Nursing.”
Giefer said conferring the first DNPs caps off years of work.
“This is an endeavor that I became involved with back in 2009 when I requested a sabbatical leave with the goal of planning of the curriculum for the DNP program,” Giefer said.
Trina Larery, who will receive her DNP degree Friday, said she’s proud to be part of PSU’s history.
“I am honored that I had the opportunity to be selected to be in the inaugural class,” Larery said.
Larery, who received her master’s degree in nursing from PSU, said she always thought that if PSU ever offered a doctoral program in nursing, she would want to be part of it. She did, however, have questions about what she might learn.
“To be honest I wasn't sure what I could learn from the program,” Larery said. “I had been a nurse practitioner for nine years and felt very comfortable in that role and in my knowledge.”
It turned out to be an eye-opening experience.
“It was not what I expected,” Larery said. “It was very challenging. I had to see myself as more then I was before. Instead of being a clinician I had to give in to the idea that I was a leader, a role model and a visionary for the nursing profession along with a clinician. Taking a leadership role was never something I was comfortable with until this program.”
Larery said the faculty were always there to help her through the rigorous program.
“They were always there for me and truly want students to succeed,” Larery said. “I can't tell you how many times I have called some of the faculty crying, saying I couldn't do it. They talked me off the ledge every time, and now here I am, graduating in a few days. That personal touch and the investment they have in students makes PSU the only place I wanted to be.”
Barbara McClaskey, a University Professor in the School of Nursing, said the investment in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program will pay dividends in the form of improved health care in the region immediately.
“The DNP program at Pittsburg State helps to assure that the region will continue to be served by practitioners with the highest possible level of education and clinical preparation,” McClaskey said.
“Our DNP graduates are planning to remain in their home communities of Frontenac, Girard, Neodesha, Parsons, Wichita, Nevada (Mo.) and Grove (Okla.),” Giefer said. “They will continue to serve the people in our region and will assist in meeting their health care needs with an expanded knowledge base in an increasingly complex environment.”
McClaskey said that amidst the celebration for the first DNP class, it was important, also, to give credit to the many people who helped make the program possible.
“This program would not have happened without the support of the entire university community, administration, faculty, and staff, and without students who had a goal of life-long learning and always wanting to provide the best for their patients,” McClaskey said.