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Published in Alumni Publications on June 01, 2012
Jessylen Age, left, risk management coordinator for University Hospitals and Health System, and Molly Moore, assistant professor of nursing, are the first two graduates of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program.
Jessylen Age, left, risk management coordinator for University Hospitals and Health System, and Molly Moore, assistant professor of nursing, are the first two graduates of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Doctor of Nursing Practice’s 1st grads blaze trail at SON

Just a few months ago, Molly Moore was a student in the School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. After graduating in May, the assistant professor of nursing quickly shifted gears to teach one of the classes in the program this summer. 

Moore, an SON faculty member, and her former classmate Jessylen Age, risk management coordinator for University Hospitals and Health System, are the first students to successfully complete the program, which launched in the fall of 2009. Part of a growing trend nationwide, the DNP offers an alternative to the Ph.D. by focusing on enhancing clinical skills as opposed to the academically orientated Ph.D.

Moore, who has been a family nurse practitioner for 12 years and has taught in the SON since 2008, also works with the SON’s school-based clinic at Johnson Elementary in Jackson. Caring for medically underserved children at Johnson inspired her to pursue her doctorate.

“I found I was very equipped to help them with their individual needs in terms of treating allergies or diabetes,” Moore said, “but I was not prepared to address the problems the patients faced on a daily basis as a population.”  

Moore says her main goal in getting the DNP was to be a better advocate for her patients.

Age, who worked as a critical care nurse for many years after earning her BSN from Mississippi College in 1990, earned a master’s degree in health administration from MC in 2006. In 2009, Age began working at UMMC and shifted to the risk management aspect of the nursing profession.

“I love patient care,” Age said, “but my career path has opened up many opportunities that allow me to use my nursing knowledge and skills in ways that help improve patient safety, patient quality and health equity in a broader aspect.”  

The DNP encourages studying different populations and aggregates of people, which is exactly what Age does in her current role as a risk coordinator. “Risk looks at issues from a systems-level perspective in order to assess and improve clinical processes in all aspects of patient care throughout the organization,” Age said.

Dr. Barbara Boss, who helped develop the program, said she has been very satisfied with the results.

“We have been pleased with the program, the courses, and the outcomes globally,” said Dr. Barbara Boss, professor of nursing and director of the DNP program. “There have been a few minor changes, and we try to be as flexible as possible with our students’ schedules.”

According to Boss, UMMC will move ahead with a post-baccalaureate DNP program starting in the fall of 2013. This will include courses needed for the Master of Science in Nursing degree, resulting in students finishing one year sooner than they would earning the MSN and the DNP separately.
“The goal is to put people out faster,” Boss said. “Now people are in the tail end of their careers by the time they earn their Ph.D. or DNP, and it would be wonderful to have young people complete these terminal degrees and be able to work 20 to 30 years instead of having five years left until retirement.”

Boss says the program’s first graduates are excellent representatives of the program and are bringing that new experience into their respective fields.
“Molly is an incredible practitioner and educator and she is just the epitome of the DNP from an academician standpoint,” Boss said. And Jessylen has blossomed in her role as well. “You could just see her paradigms shift as to where she saw risk management going and what could be done with quality improvement projects. It was amazing to watch her grow.”