For the first time in Wagner’s 134-year history, the College awarded earned doctoral degrees at commencement this May. (The cohort finished in December 2016, so their doctorates are indicated as D’16.)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program, launched in 2014, builds on Wagner’s longtime strength in nursing education. This past academic year, the College graduated 134 students with nursing degrees: 11 doctoral, 21 master’s, and 102 bachelor’s (half in the four-year program and half in the second-degree program).

Prominent industry groups such as Institute of Medicine and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing have recommended increased levels of education for nurses. Wagner’s DNP helps to fill that need. Its specialization in emergency preparedness and global health adds a distinctive focus. All graduates earn FEMA certification in medical disaster management and become members of the NYC Medical Reserve Corps.

Portraits of three women, Kathleen Campos-Gatjens ’04 M’10 D’16; Cindy McVey ’95 M’97 D’16; and Patricia Tooker ’79 M’04 D’16.
From left to right: Kathleen Campos-Gatjens ’04 M’10 D’16; Cindy McVey ’95 M’97 D’16; and Patricia Tooker ’79 M’04 D’16.

Kathleen Campos-Gatjens ’04 M’10 D’16 is one of the first DNP graduates. She worked at the Hospital for Special Surgery for nine years after her first Wagner graduation, with a BSN in 2004, and continued while earning her master’s. Currently, she is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Advantage Care Physicians, and she is an adjunct nursing faculty member at Wagner. “The DNP is relevant to what I do, because of how it teaches you to use research to improve patient care and outcomes,” she says.

Cindy McVey ’95 M’97 D’16 also holds multiple Wagner nursing degrees, now including the DNP. She is a staff nurse practitioner for Central Jersey Emergency Physician Associates at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, New Jersey, so the DNP program’s focus on population health and emergency medicine was extremely relevant to her. For her doctoral project, she wrote a guide titled Hospital Evacuation: Are You Prepared? (It is available as an e-book on Apple iTunes.) She has also started up a private practice, Hometown Family Health NP, PLLC, which delivers “healthcare to your door,” including primary and urgent care.

Another member of the inaugural DNP class received a significant honor soon after graduation: Patricia Tooker ’79 M’04 D’16, professor of nursing and dean for integrated learning, was elected dean of the Evelyn L. Spiro School of Nursing, succeeding founding Dean Paula Tropello.