SJSU Proud to Graduate First DNP Cohort

Author: Maya Carlyle
May 25, 2021

SAN JOSE, California, San José State University; May 25, 2021:

In 2012 the CSU system launched a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in California, aimed at elevating nursing practice in the state and increasing the potential pool of future nursing faculty. The northern California program was a consortium made up of Fresno State University and San José State University, working together to support their students in an online environment. The CSU Northern California Consortium DNP (NCCDNP) program ran for several successful years, graduating seven cohorts.

“The DNP program was life-changing and I know just how cliché that sounds. I entered the program as a seasoned Clinical Nurse Specialist but really left with a clear vision as a leader in nursing… The DNP has afforded me a broader view of healthcare and allowed me to influence nursing in a variety of ways in my current role. I’m forever grateful for my DNP.” said Lisa Walker-Vischer RN, DNP, CNS, CCRN, 2014 NCCDNP graduate and current CSU faculty member.

In 2019, San José State University branched off and launched its own DNP program within The Valley Foundation School of Nursing. One of the program’s mottos frames it well: the best of the past has been, and will continue to be, used to create the future of nursing and nursing education, and to improve patient outcomes in Santa Clara County and throughout California.

Michelle DeCoux Hampton, RN, PhD, MS, and one of the two program coordinators, explained, “[With] the program localized to SJSU, there is greater potential for partnership with the state-of-the-art medical centers and healthcare systems in Silicon Valley to work collaboratively toward promoting a culture of excellence in evidence-based practice, improved healthcare quality, and safety for residents of Santa Clara County and Northern California.”

Graduating DNP nurses will be practitioners who, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), will develop “a blend of clinical, organizational, economic, and leadership skills […] to be able to critique nursing… and design programs of care delivery that are locally acceptable, economically feasible, and which significantly impact health care outcomes.”

These nurses are graduating now, in May of 2021, after 21 months of hard work and learning in leadership, implementation science, biostatistics and epidemiology, DEI and cross-cultural practice, data management and informatics, and instructional design, among many other skills and subjects. The program could not have seen 2020 coming, but these nurses overcame. And now, after five semesters of hard work, dedication, creative innovation, implementing positive change even as they learned, and the usual amount of blood, sweat, and tears, the DNP program at SJSU is proud to watch its first cohort of Doctors finish what they started.

Our graduates spent the years of their academic work also juggling many other demanding roles. Many were parents, teachers and program leaders, managers of multiple departments in multiple hospitals, program managers, department directors, and many took on more work, responsibility, and stress as the COVID-19 epidemic became a pandemic and changed everyone’s life. Through it all, our DNP students persevered.

“…[To the DNP program] Thank you for all of your dedication and patience.  Thank you for your passion for excellence in education.  Thank you for putting together a DNP program that I am absolutely proud to have been a part of. Thank you for not letting a global pandemic diminish the power of this program.  Thank you for holding me to high standards so that I don’t question whether I’ve earned this degree.  Thank you for knowing how important the support team is and making sure we had an amazing (and I do mean amazing) team in Maya and Brian. Thank you for bringing on instructors who share your passion for excellence and who value students as people and future nursing leaders.  Thank you for knowing that Ruth and Michelle were the best leadership team in the world for this program, because they truly are the best. […]  You set some high standards for us but it’s okay because you hold yourselves to those same standards.  You are authentic.  You are approachable… Thank you for making TVFSON at SJSU shine so brightly for all the degrees/programs.  It has been a great ride!

Always a Spartan, though one concerned with hand hygiene,” – Tammi Reeves-Messner, DNP, MS, RN, RNC-NIC: 2011 BSN, 2016 MSN, and 2021 DNP graduate – all from SJSU.

Our 2021 DNP graduates:

Lynette Vallecillo Apen, DNP, RN, CNS, CNE
Division Dean, Nursing and Allied Health, Evergreen Valley College
Doctoral Project: Nursing Academic Leadership: An Urgent Workforce Shortage in California Nursing Education

Ena Andrea Arce, DNP, MSN, BSN, RN
Health Center Manager, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
Doctoral Project: Programmatic Colorectal (CRC) Screening during a Pandemic: Nursing Telemedicine Education Among Latinx Adults in an Ambulatory Safety Net Clinic

Vanndy Linda Loth-Kumar, DNP, MPH, PMHNP-BC
Integration Services Lead, AACI; Public Health Nurse, Santa Clara County Public Health Department
Doctoral Project: Evaluation of a Wellness and Recovery Medication Services Program

Elisa Nguyen, DNP, MS, RN, CMSRN
Director of Clinical Services, Stanford Health Care
Doctoral Project: The Effectiveness of Resilience Training for Nurse Managers: A Case Study

Sandy Phan, DNP, MSN/Ed, RN, NPD-BC, CRRN
Nursing Professional Development Specialist, Stanford Health Care
Doctoral Project: Promoting Civility in the Workplace: Addressing Bullying in New Graduate Nurses Using Simulation and Cognitive Rehearsal

Tammi K. Reeves-Messner, DNP, MS, RN
Assistant Nurse Manager, Kaiser Permanente
Doctoral Project: Neuroprotective Care in the NICU: A Quality Improvement Project

Reynaldo G. Rosario Jr., DNP, MSN, RN, CPHQ, LSSBB
Enterprise Quality Manager – Accreditation, Regulatory Affairs, & Licensing (Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, and DePaul Health Center)
Doctoral Project: Quality Improvement Initiative: To Improve Surgical Wound Classification

Dominique Ellen Teaford, DNP, RN, PHN, PMH-C
Supervising Public Health Nurse III, County of Santa Cruz – Health Services Agency
Doctoral Project: Website Redesign Project to Improve the Quality and Usefulness of the Perinatal Mental Health Coalition’s Resource Website

Stacey L. Teicher, DNP, MSN, PNP, BSN, RN
Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Kaiser Permanente
Doctoral Project: The effects of telehealth on patient satisfaction and information recall for breast cancer survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Silvia L. Turner, DNP, MSN/Ed, CRRN, RN
Nurse Educator, New Nurse Employee Orientation Coordinator, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System
Doctoral Project: Virtual Training Impact on Nurses’ Self-Efficacy of Safe Patient Handling Equipment Usage

Colleen A. Vega, DNP, RN, MSN, ACHPN
Clinical Nurse Specialist, Stanford Health Care; Lecturer, San Francisco State University
Doctoral Project: The Effects of Virtual Reality on Symptom Distress in Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant

Additional questions? Please contact the DNP team via email at


Contact for more information
Phone: 408-924-3182
Fax: 408-924-3135
Mailing Address:
The Valley Foundation School of Nursing, DNP
1 Washington Square, HB420
San Jose, CA 95192-0057

AACN quote taken from:

DNP program receives accreditation

The California State University Northern California Consortium Doctor of Nursing Practice received news that they were granted accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education on Nov. 7. The accreditation is valid through Dec. 31, 2019 and the accreditation will be retroactive to the first cohort of graduates in May 2014.

Graduates from the first cohort of the DNP program take questions from current and prospective students at the reception.

Graduates from the first cohort of the DNP program take questions from current and prospective students at the reception.

“We want to sincerely thank our Deans, department chairs, faculty, project chairs, and staff for their dedication and support required to start such a successful DNP program” the DNP executive leadership team wrote in an email announcement. “This milestone is only possible with such great teamwork and collaboration.”

The DNP program is a joint effort by San José State University’s Valley Foundation School of Nursing in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts and CSU Fresno. The executive leadership team includes Lori Rodriguez and Ruth Rosenblum, at SJSU, and Sylvia Miller and Chris Ortiz, at CSU Fresno.

“We also want to thank all of our students, especially our inaugural DNP Class of 2014,” they wrote. “We appreciate you taking a leap of faith and enrolling in a brand new program, and being so instrumental in the success of the program.”

The mission of the program is: To be an exceptional advanced nursing degree program that will prepare nurses at a doctoral level to lead health care change, serve as nursing faculty and advance health throughout California’s communities.

The DNP program launched its pilot in 2012, with the first cohort of students graduating in May 2014. It took an act of the state legislature to authorize the CSU to award a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The state assembly bill itself called for a DNP degree to be distinct from the doctor of philosophy degree offered by the UC system and to allow professionals to earn the degree while working full time. The program allows students to do much of their coursework online, with in-person intensive sessions each semester held alternately at SJSU and CSU Fresno. The first cohort included students from as far north as Redding and as far south as Bakersfield.

For more in the program, visit

Seven professors prepare for 2014-15 sabbaticals

During the 2014-15 academic year, seven professors within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts at San José State University were awarded a sabbatical to conduct research related to their fields. Here are summaries of some of the work those on sabbatical will be conducting this year.

School of Social Work

Amy D’Andrade, the Associate Dean of Research for the College and Director for the CASA Center for Applied Research on Human Services, will be on sabbatical for Fall 2014. She is planning to use the time to focus on several projects related to her ongoing research focused on reunification between parents and children who have been removed from the home due to maltreatment, with an emphasis on the role fathers play in the reunification process. Her projects include a secondary analysis and journal manuscript on parent constellations and parent-specific outcomes in child welfare reunification and a grant proposal to fund a research study using dyadic analysis to understand fathers’ contributions to reunification outcomes.

Dr. D’Andrade received her MSW and PhD in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. She is an Associate Professor in the SJSU School of Social Work, teaching graduate courses on social welfare policy and research. She also serves as the Director of the Center for Applied Research in Human Services (CARHS), and the faculty Associate Dean for Research for the College. Her research interests focus on the public child welfare system, particularly issues affecting parental reunification with children removed for maltreatment. She has conducted studies on reunification service delivery, reunification for incarcerated parents, and California’s reduction of reunification timeframes for parents of children under three. She received the 2010 Early Career Investigator Award from the San Jose State University Research Foundation. Prior to her academic career, Dr. D’Andrade was a child welfare services social worker in San Diego County for over six years, working in a variety of programs including Residential Services, Independent Living Services, and data systems administration.

Meekyung Han, of the School of Social Work, will be on a two-semester, half-pay sabbatical during which she will work on two projects that will expand the depth and breadth of her professional and academic experiences.  For one of her projects, Han will be the principal investigator who will look at “long-term effects of parental interpersonal violence and child maltreatment on internalizing and externalizing mental health problems with Asian college students: The role of social support.” For this project, she will be working with professors from four Asian countries including Japan, China, Hong Kong and South Korea, along with a collaborator at SJSU. For her second project, Han and a collaborator received the Silberman Fund Faculty Grant to study “Vicarious trauma and its impact on well-being among family caregivers of persons with mental illness: A Comparative Exploration of self-care practices among Asians and Caucasians.” At the end of the study, Han and her colleague will submit a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and she will develop a grant proposal for external funding.

Han said her first project will help to build a strong international scholarly partnership that will benefit SJSU and the College of Applied Sciences and Arts by building a global academic community. The second project will build upon her existing knowledge of the well-being of people with mental illness in general and with Asians in particular.

Soma Sen, a professor in the School of Social Work, received a grant along with a colleague from the department of Health Science and Recreation to explore the impact of HIV-related stigma on HIV testing behavior among Asian American Pacific Islander populations with community partner Asian Americans for Community Involvement. During her sabbatical, Sen plans to complete a manuscript for submission in a peer-reviewed journal and prepare for external funding from the National Institute of Health to support research to characterize and reduce the stigma to improve health.

Justice Studies

Dr. Steven Lee, the director of the Forensic Science Program, will use his sabbatical to conduct empirical research at the International Forensic Research Institute at Florida International University with next generation sequencing to uncover forensically significant, age and tissue specific genetic markers and with newly developed, inhibitor resistant enzymes for expanding and enhancing rapid 25 minute, direct DNA typing of samples.

Lee said his research will provide data for presentation and publication, future collaborative external grants and significant potential improvements in accuracy and speed of DNA typing.  He will also complete the analysis of a three-year program of research on PCR enhancers, leading to the resubmission of a peer-reviewed manuscript. He will develop a new course on Forensic Science in Human Rights Investigations, leading to a new permanent course at SJSU.

Valley Foundation School of Nursing

Lori Rodriguez will be taking a sabbatical leave in Spring 2015 to conduct surveys and interviews with the graduates of the DNP class of 2014 to determine the degree to which the program prepared the graduates to be faculty, advanced practice clinicians, and/or leaders. Beyond this basic required information, she will capitalize on her background as a qualitative researcher and hold interviews and/or focus groups with graduates to discuss their role change, and allow them to reflect on their experience. Rodriguez has been one of the integral faculty members involved in the pilot DNP program at SJSU, which is a joint effort with California State University, Fresno.

Sabbaticals were also granted to the following professors:

Kathy Lemon – School of Social Work

Tamar Semerjian – Kinesiology

Nursing DNP students present research

On April 4, 16 students enrolled in the California State University Northern California Consortium Doctor of Nursing Practice program took to a podium in a conference room in Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San José State University with each student presenting the results of nearly two years of research.

The students, who are enrolled in the joint program between the College of Applied Sciences and Arts’ Valley Foundation School of Nursing and Fresno State University’s nursing program, presented a summary of their research and fielded questions from those who were present in the audience.

Mercy Egbujor said her faculty advisers along with her project chair Tamara McKinnon helped her to narrow the focus of her research project that looked at what knowledge, attitudes and skills are necessary to make a backpack homeless healthcare program successful.

Egbujor works with Santa Clara Valley Homeless Healthcare, a program that goes directly to homeless residents in Santa Clara County to treat them with the medical supplies team members can carry in a backpack. During her presentation, Egbujor gave a summary of the teams work and explained the methods she used to survey members of the multidisciplinary team on what knowledge, skills and attitudes are important to make the program successful. Some of the attitudes included being respectful, compassionate, open minded and non-judgmental. Egbujor said more research is needed to see if programs such as this are effective through measures such as lowering the number of emergency room trips in the population.

Susan Herman, with her advisers and project chair Mary Gish, completed an analysis of nursing transformational leadership practices. To conduct her research, Herman sent a survey to members of the Association of California Nurse Leaders to gather their ideas of what principles are most important in leadership. She based her survey questions on The Leadership Challenge, created by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner that highlights five practices of exemplary leadership. Her results from the self-reporting survey were in line with previous research. Some of the key practices nurse leaders identified as important were enabling others to act, modeling the way to do things, inspiring a shared vision and challenging standard practices.

Other DNP students presented throughout the day, with a second set of students from the cohort presenting their research at Fresno State University on April 11.

The cohort includes 31 students from across Northern California in a legislatively mandated pilot program that offers online education to post-master’s prepared nurses who have extensive work experience in healthcare. For the first cohort, 31 students will graduate on May 24. At least 90 percent of the students reported they have been working 30 or more hours since enrolling in the full-time program. Their average age is 49 years old and average time in practice is 20 years.

For more information on the CSU Northern California Consortium Doctor of Nursing Practice, visit or visit

UPDATED: First set of DNP students to present project results in April

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. But before they hit that milestone, the students are preparing for their oral defenses on April 4, at San José State University and April 11, at CSU, Fresno.DNP logo draft3

The cohort includes 31 students from across Northern California in a legislatively mandated pilot program that offers online education to post-master’s prepared nurses who have extensive work experience in healthcare. “During the initial interview process, we were looking for leadership potential,” said Lori Rodriguez, the director of the DNP Consortium at San José State University.  “We were fortunate to enroll students with initiative, leadership potential, integrity and rich practice backgrounds.”

For the first cohort, 31 students are nearing completion of the program. At least 90 percent of the students reported they have been working 30 or more hours since enrolling in the full-time program. Their average age is 49 years old and average time in practice is 20 years.

Sylvia Ruiz, an administrative support coordinator with the DNP program, said some of the students have already received promotions and others are anticipating promotions upon graduation.

“They’ve received scholarly recognition,” Ruiz said, with Rodriguez noting that five students were accepted to speak at the National DNP Conference in Nashville, Tenn. next fall, in addition to numerous local, state and national invitations to present. Publications from this program are beginning to emerge.

While 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, Ruiz said the students formed bonds quickly.

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

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, with potential for a long-lasting impact. Of the graduating class, 16 students are scheduled to present their findings during their oral defense on April 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229, with the public invited. The other 15 students will present their oral defenses April 11, from 8:30-5:30 p.m. at CSU, Fresno, in McLane Hall, Room 193. Rodriguez said faculty members, other students and members of the healthcare community are welcome to attend.

The students tackled a variety of projects, some in hospital-based settings and others in community locations.  Some projects to be presented at SJSU include:

  • “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
  • “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
  • “The Experience of Latino Parents of Hospitalized Children During Family Centered Bedside Rounds,” completed by Lisa Walker-Vischer and overseen by Dr. Constance Hill

For more information on the CSU Northern California Consortium Doctor of Nursing Practice, visit or visit

For the full schedule on oral defenses at SJSU, click on the PDF DNP Oral Schedule April 2014 Updated.