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First doctorate program attracts full class of students

ISSUED: 31 August 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

MARTINSBURG, WV — Shepherd University welcomed 15 students to its first-ever doctorate program, the doctor of nursing practice (D.N.P.), during orientation August 19 at the Martinsburg Center.

The D.N.P. program offers three concentrations: nursing leadership-education, nursing leadership-administration, and nurse practitioner-family nurse practitioner. Of the current students, 14 are in the family nurse practitioner concentration and one is studying administration.

“The region needs family nurse practitioners,” said Dr. Sharon Mailey, director/chair of the department of nursing education. “We want to change healthcare and right now there’s a shortage of primary care providers in the region. The only way to change that is to increase clients’ access to health care, and the nurse practitioner will certainly offer that opportunity.”

Mailey said she is pleased that the program achieved the goal of enrolling 15 students in the first year, and she pointed out the students come from a variety of backgrounds.

“This is such a phenomenal diverse group regarding age, regarding work experience, and regarding life experience,” she said. “It will just be enriching as this group comes together.”

Andrew Keel, for example, has worked at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, since he graduated from Shepherd in 2001. Keel is a clinical research nurse in the NIH Clinical Center—the largest research hospital in America. He currently works on a hematology and oncology day hospital unit which provides supportive care for bone marrow transplant patients and for those participating in clinical trials at the NIH.

Keel is also a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service. He said earning a D.N.P. will enable him to progress as an officer in the Public Health Service and provide a more advanced level of care to clinical trial participants at the NIH.

“I still live in the area and have a very high opinion of the education I received at Shepherd,” Keel said. “I thoroughly enjoy the way the nursing educators care about their students, about the educational process, and how this program feels much more inclusive when compared to other graduate programs I have reviewed.”

Barbara Sherman, another D.N.P. student, is the director of quality management and patient safety at Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. Sherman has earned several degrees, including a bachelor of science in nursing (B.S.N.) from Shepherd and two master’s degrees from other institutions.

“I’ve always felt like I wasn’t quite finished,” Sherman said. “This is the way for me to feel that I’ve actually achieved the goals that I need to achieve educationally to support what I do professionally.”

Unlike many of her classmates, Donna-Sue Lammie of Gaithersburg, Maryland, is not a Shepherd graduate. Lammie earned her B.S.N. from the University of Maryland in 2013 and currently works as a registered nurse in the emergency department at Shady Grove Medical Center. Lammie said earning her D.N.P. will help her reach her career goals.

“I know that I want to stay clinical, like in the hospital setting for awhile, but eventually I want to do primary care and then hopefully teach,” she said.

The D.N.P. program requires students to have a minimum of 1,000 hours of hands-on experience working in the community with health care professionals, educators, and administrators throughout the region. Admission criteria include having a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for a baccalaureate degree and for all work beyond the baccalaureate level, a current unencumbered R.N. license in the state of West Virginia, a letter describing how the student envisions using the D.N.P. degree, and two professional references.

Prospective students can submit their applications through the Nursing Centralized Application Service website at, which is operated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Listen to the interview HERE.

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