From Nurse to Doctor

Levi Black ‘10M, ‘14DNP, Margaret (Peggy) Boyd ‘83BSN, ’94MSN, ‘14DNP, and Cynthia (Cindi) Dahlkemper ‘97BSN, ‘07MSN, ‘14DNP, were the first three graduates to receive degrees at Winter Commencement in December.

It was a fitting position for the three; they were also the first graduates of Gannon University’s new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

The program began in 2013 as a response to the changing role of nurses in the dynamic healthcare sector of the economy. Open to advanced-practice registered nurses who hold a Master of Science degree in nursing and are certified in their specialty, the DNP program is an important step in helping nurses more effectively influence patient safety and develop best practices for hospitals and other clinical settings.

Black, a nurse anesthetist who is assistant director of the UPMC Hamot School of Anesthesia, pointed out that the DNP degree “is something that will be required [for his position] in the not too distant future, and I always wanted to complete my education with a terminal degree.”

Boyd’s specialty is far different. She is a nurse midwife whose most recent practice was on the immense Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Nebraska and Oklahoma. “I can use data about best outcomes for mother and baby, and the evidence-based practice we explored in the DNP program was the best way to do that.”

Dahlkemper is a family nurse practitioner in the emergency medicine department at Erie’s Saint Vincent Hospital. “The key is to be a leader and a mentor in a clinical arena, and to show that [nurses] can make changes and don't need to rely on our physician colleagues to do this for us.”

Three graduates in three specialties, a part of history at the University and creating change for the future of nursing.