Sharon Castellanos

Changing Healthcare Outcomes

Doctor of Nursing Practice Students

Set to graduate: the first group of students to enroll in the CSU Northern California Consortium Doctor of Nursing Practice program (Bob Bain photo).

Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations,, 408-924-1748
Sylvia Ruiz, SJSU DNP administrative support coordinator,, 408-924-3160

San Jose, Calif. — The first group of students to enroll in the California State University Northern California Consortium Doctor of Nursing Practice program are preparing to graduate in May, with 21 months of studying and research completed.

Our students, through their work in our program and their connections to the community, are changing people’s lives, changing health care, and changing our communities,” said Lori Rodriguez, the director of the DNP Consortium at San Jose State.

The culmination of the program includes the doctoral projects the students started on in their first year to change a healthcare outcome in the community. The projects had to focus on a group or community rather than an individual.

Impactful Research

Because students tended to tackle topics within their own communities, they brought to their research passion, integrity and an authentic understanding of their settings. This helped students win the support of their colleagues and develop projects with the potential for long-lasting impacts.

Sixteen students presented their findings during their oral defenses April 4 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229, on the grounds of SJSU.

The other 15 students presented their oral defenses from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 11 in McLane Hall, Room 193, at CSU Fresno.

The DNP program equips students with the skills they need to take a scholarly and evidence-based approach to their research, employing biostatistics. Projects presented at SJSU include the following:

    “Intent of High School Hispanic/Latino Adolescents Toward Tissue and Organ Donation: A Study of the Impact of a Culturally Sensitive Educational Intervention,”

    After losing her son in a car crash, Sharon Castellanos worked with her family to update an old Cadillac her son had planned to turn into a show car. The vehicle is now used as an educational tool for building awareness about organ and tissue donation among Hispanic adolescents (photo courtesy of Castellanos).

  • “Intent of High School Hispanic/Latino Adolescents Toward Tissue and Organ Donation: A Study of the Impact of a Culturally Sensitive Educational Intervention,” completed by Sharon Castellanos and overseen by Dr. Lynn Van Hofwegan. Castellanos was profiled in Washington Square, SJSU’s alumni magazine.
  • “Backpack Homeless Healthcare Program: What Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills Do Backpack Homeless Healthcare Program’s Multidisciplinary Teams Believe are Critical in Order to Provide Effective Patient Centered Health Care Services to Unsheltered Homeless Population in Santa Clara County?” completed by Mercy Egbujor and overseen by Dr. Tamara McKinnon. Egbujor was profiled by Science of Caring, a publication of the University of California, San Francisco.
  • “The Experience of Latino Parents of Hospitalized Children During Family Centered Bedside Rounds,” completed by Lisa Walker-Vischer and overseen by Dr. Constance Hill

Five students were accepted to present at the 2014 National Doctors of Nursing Practice Conference in Nashville, Tenn. DNP students also received numerous local, state and national invitations to present. In addition to making a difference in communities, the experience produces faculty members for postsecondary nursing education programs.

“Two years ago, I would not have had the knowledge, skill or confidence to approach these tasks [of a graduate teaching position] and now I do! Many thanks … to all the DNP program faculty and staff,” said Christopher Patty, a medication safety specialist at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia.

Preparing Leaders

The CSU Northern California Consortium Doctor of Nursing Practice is a legislatively mandated pilot program that enables working nurses to earn a doctoral degree in nursing, with an emphasis on applied research in clinical practice settings. The pilot produces faculty and develops nurses for leadership roles.

During the initial interview process, we were looking for leadership potential,” Rodriguez said. “We were fortunate to enroll students with initiative, leadership potential, integrity and rich practice backgrounds.”

At least 90 percent of the students reported they have been working 30 or more hours since enrolling in the full-time program. Some have already received promotions and others are anticipating promotions upon graduation.

The DNP program’s “leadership and encouragement has been critical to my personal growth and development,” said Praba Koomson, regional administrator of advanced illness management and hospice at Sutter Care At Home in Modesto. “Participation in this program has transformed my professional practice.”

Network of Like Minds

Although the program has been online, with students meeting in person for one to four days a semester of intensive training at one of the two campuses, this year’s graduating class quickly formed bonds that will last a lifetime.

They found a network of people across the state with ‘like minds’,” Rodriguez said.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,500 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.