Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

2017 Nursing Scholarship Day


Above, Whitney Distinguished Lecturer, Paul F. Cook, PhD,
addresses the audience at the 2017 Nursing Scholarship Day on April 13.


The University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program held "Nursing Scholarship Day" this month, marking the culmination of studies and project preparation by the 2017 DNP Graduate Candidates.

As part of this festive day in which the students would present their research findings, many other significant events took their place in a packed agenda:

  • 2017 Whitney Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Paul F. Cook, addressed the crowd of faculty, students, alumni and staff.

  • A special guest speaker from South Africa, Siphesihle Patience Vilakazi, took the podium.

  • In the midst of DNP research presentations, the Thomas Lab Research Team also shared their research project that would be presented the following week at the national Western Institute of Nursing (WIN) conference.

  • Closing out the day, the DNP Program held the "Willow Ceremony," which included the presentation of awards to individuals and agencies contributing to the success of the University of Wyoming Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and its graduates.

2017 Nursing Scholarship Day Program
Click on the above link to download a PDF copy of the program, which includes abstracts for DNP candidate research.

Please scroll down for more about the Scholarship Day, the Willow Ceremony, and about the individuals and agency honored at the 2017 event.

Paul Cook, PhD, 2017 Whitney Distinguished Lecturer

Paul Cook delivers keynote address as 2017 Whitney Distinguished Lecturer

Paul F. Cook, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and associate professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing. Cook's presentation at Nursing Scholarship Day was titled, "Research, Quality Improvement, Program Evaluation, and Evidence-Based Practice." Cook discussed the overlap between research, quality improvement, and program evaluation. Click on the title of this summary for more information about Cook.

Students at lectern discussing their findings with audience.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Candidate Research Presentations

DNP students in nationally accredited programs such as the University of Wyoming's are required to complete a DNP project prior to graduation. These projects provide an invaluable opportunity for students to integrate science, theory, and practice skills they've learned throughout their education, as well as the opportunity to professionally disseminate their findings. Read more about how the UW DNP program is and will be doing this in the future, and read about each student's project by clicking in the title above.

black woman speaking to gathering.

Guest speaker, Siphesihle Patience Vilakazi

Nurse and nurse educator Siphesihle Patience Vilakazi from Mpumalanga, South Africa spoke to the gathering. While practicing in rural and urban areas of South Africa, Vilakazi has specialized in midwifery and the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Her current position is Senor Midwife at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg.

Four members of the Thomas Lab with their laptops open.

Thomas Lab presents research

The Thomas Lab Research Team presented their research on "Lifestyle Health-Related Self-Concept in the Context of a Lifestyle Intervention." Nursing faculty member Dr. Jenifer Thomas took her team to the Western Institute of Nursing conference to present their research. Her team is interdisciplinary: students from Nursing, Kinesiology & Health, Zoology & Physiology, Animal Science and Pharmacy help Thomas with her research and learn to do their own as well. [See abstract on linked PDF of the Nursing Scholarship Day Program above.]

Freshly cut willows placed on the UW Nursing table prior to ceremony.

Willow Ceremony

The Willow Ceremony celebrates the end of the first year of didactic studies in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, encouraging students as they prepare for the program's clinical component. Why "Willow" Ceremony? Click into the title to further read about the ceremony--why it is necessary, and why it was named the Willow Ceremony.

Nine members of the new DNP-1 class pose for camera.

DNP-1 Class

Pictured are some of the "DNP1" students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program who attended the 2017 Willow Ceremony: (l-r) Meghan Pankey, Jeff Shideman, Kelsie Revesz, Abigail Arross, Kellie Creaser, Timothy Barnes, Carolyn Pignataro, Sara Gardner, Sherra St. Clair. Not pictured from the "DNP1" 2017 class are: Randall Baxter, Jesse Stark Morse Brady, Susan Brown, Christina Cook, Whitney Edinger, Stephanie Ferris, Jennifer Wagy, Travis Williamson, Sue Wolff. Click on the DNP-1 Class title to see larger picture.

Seven individuals pose for picture with award plaque

2017 DNP Community Partner Award: Laramie Reproductive Health

Pictured (l-r): DNP Program Director Ann Marie Hart; DNP second year student Kanti Devkota; LRH employee Dr. Lisa Aldrich, DNP; LRH Interim Executive Director Matt Miller; UW Nursing Associate Dean Susan Steiner; DNP faculty Candace Stidolph and Esther Gilman-Kehrer. "From students, to patients, to faculty, the DNP program and LRH are true partners," says Hart. Student Kanti Devkota thanked LRH "for providing a positive learning environment for the nurse practitioner students." She says she was provided with "an astounding example of how to treat patients with respect, compassion, and critical thinking skills." Click in the title to read the full article.

Three individuals pose with award plaque

Jim Fleenor Recipient of 2017 Excellence in Advanced Practice Nursing Award

Pictured is Jim Fleenor, the 2017 recipient of the graduate programs' Excellence in Advanced Practice Nursing Award. Fleenor is currently a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston, specializing in forensic nursing. Fleenor was selected as recipient of this award due to his provision of excellent psychiatric care to individuals experiencing severe mental illness, and his participation in educating the next generation of psychiatric nurse practitioners. [Click in the article title above for picture and full article.]

Three women pose with award plaque.

Peter K. Simpson APNF Awardee: Dr. Sue Lowe

Pictured is optometrist Dr. Sue Lowe, center, flanked by Dean Mary Burman (left) and DNP faculty member Esther Gilman-Kehrer (right). Lowe has been supporting UW FWWSON Advance Practice Nurses (APNs) since the 1980's, receiving this award "due to her decades-long enthusiasm and support," says DNP Program Director Ann Marie Hart. "She advocates for expanded NP roles and is always complimentary of their role." [Click on award title to read full article.]

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