Opening Doors to the Future

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The Surgeon General of the United States, Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., recently accepted an invitation to meet with several students from the Doctor of Nursing Practice program (DNP) at the University of Miami (UM), to discuss nursing’s potential contribution to healthcare reform.

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Surgeon General of the United States, Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin speaking with Doctor of Nursing Practice students

The meeting took place, while she was visiting the UM campus as a speaker, at one of UM’s commencement ceremonies. Dr. Benjamin received an honorary Doctor of Science degree and addressed graduates at the UM commencement ceremony for the Frost School of Music and Schools of Architecture, Communication, Education, and Nursing and Health Studies.

At the discussion, a group of students from the UM Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) program shared with Dr. Benjamin their innovative approaches to eliminating health care disparities through practice, based on evidence. Dr. Benjamin was especially interested to hear each student’s proposal for a scholarly capstone project, which is a requirement for graduation and an example of the work they will be doing in practice. Noelle Lipkin, nurse practitioner and DNP student at UM, is interested in how the environment affects patients’ health. “I knew Dr. Benjamin built a clinic in coastal Louisiana,” Ms. Lipkin said. “I used the recent oil spill as an example of how patients’ health will be affected in the immediate future, and for generations,” she said. “Nurses will be the providers seeing these patients who are suddenly out of work, or who have had to relocate unexpectedly.”

For the students, the meeting was a hopeful sign of greater collaboration between physicians and nursing providers. In the era of health care reform, resource allocation and utilization are critical concepts. Dr. Benjamin, as America’s Doctor, provides the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health. Ms. Lipkin said, “Dr. Benjamin was genuinely interested in what the DNP has to offer. I felt she listened to us, and I think we have opened some doors for our profession today.”

The University offers a rigorous and uniquely structured curriculum, and Miami is poised to become a national leader in educating nurses in this practice degree. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is the expert in advancing patient care built upon evidence based practice, and is adept at sharing this evidence with nursing colleagues


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