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.


10 Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Spartan Squad Students

Students earn points and prizes for attending home games. Everyone who registers will be entered into a drawing for an all-expenses paid trip to the Oct. 5 football game in Hawaii. (Christina Olivas Photo)

1. Register for Spartan Squad Student Rewards and win a trip to Hawaii!

2. ESPN will broadcast Friday night’s football game. During breaks in the action, see spots on judo, animation, Spartan Racing and Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol.

3. After receiving the Positive Coaching Alliance’s Double-Goal Coaching Award, kinesiology alumna Valerie Garcia Quintero said this:

“At a banquet last week, I was given the opportunity to speak and when I did, I made sure to speak about how wonderful and amazing the faculty and my department was at SJSU and how much I learned from them. I’ve been asked how I know how to coach and I tell them that I have had great coaches to learn from but I was extremely lucky to have had professionals in the field to teach me through my major.”

4. Check out this video showing how donors power all majors, including nursing, business, and urban and regional planning.

5. The SJSU chapter of political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha was named the best in the nation for the 2012-13 academic year.

“My department is very proud of these students for achieving this national recognition for the first time in SJSU’s history,” Professor Ken Peter said. “Sol Jobrack, chapter president, is a full-time student and new father and commutes daily from Stockton on the train, on which he works as a transit officer. Bill McCraw, who is marking his 50th year teaching at SJSU, was one of the founding faculty members of SJSU’s chapter.”

6. Three Silicon Valley Startup Cup finalists are from SJSU. Their ideas? A gamer lounge, laboratory supply service and cranium x-ray shield.

10 Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library presents this six-week series focusing on film history and popular music.

7. Where else can you go to the library to check out the shared history of film and pop music from the blues and Broadway to rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop? Live performances included!

8. George Whaley, professor emeritus of human resource management, has received the 2013 Trailblazer Award from The PhD Project, which helps African American, Native American and Hispanic students earn their PhDs and become business professors.

9. SJSU’s renowned occupational therapy program is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Think of all the people living better lives with help from our graduates.

10. Spartans stay connected online. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.

Student Assistant Amanda Holst contributed to this report.

NBC Bay Area: Wartime Love Lives on Through SJSU Scholarships

NBC Bay Area: After Losing the Love His Life, Widower Funds Nursing Scholarship So Her Spirit Lives On

Red and Dorothy Carson

Posted by NBC Bay Area Sept. 15, 2012

Red and Dorothy Carson’s love was a forbidden one. Not for any religious or cultural reasons, rather for military ones. When the two met, both serving in a station hospital in Iceland during World War II, she was an officer, he was not. It wasn’t enough to keep the San Jose couple apart. In fact, they spent the rest of their lives together, married 64 years until Dorothy’s death in 2010. After her death, Red admits he was in a fog. That is, until one night he woke from a deep sleep with a vision for how to honor her life: with a scholarship at San Jose State University to the nursing program.

View the story.

portrait of nursing student in simulation lab

The Valley Foundation School of Nursing Granted Accreditation

portrait of nursing student in simulation lab

Valley Foundation School of Nursing Granted Accreditation

SJSU’s undergraduate and graduate programs within The Valley Foundation School of Nursing have been granted accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education for a ten-year period ending Dec. 31, 2021.

“At its October meeting, the association determined that our school met all four accreditation standards,” said Director Jayne Cohen. “Additionally, there were no compliance concerns with respect to the key elements subsumed under the four standards. Hats off to all! What a team.”

The school seeks to provide innovative education in the art and science of professional nursing while empowering its baccalaureate and masters graduates to be socially and ethically responsible and knowledgeable clinicians, leaders, and scholars who will meet the changing health care needs of a diverse global community.

A clinical simulation lab provides a safe environment for students to practice and refine their nursing skills. The current focus on patient safety in the healthcare environment presents a need for innovative learning strategies in nursing education. The school provides a variety of opportunities for students to improve their critical nursing skills and further develop their clinical judgment necessary for safe and competent clinical practice.

SJSU in the News: SJSU and Fresno State to Offer Joint Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

San Jose State University launches pilot doctoral nursing program

(Editor’s Note: This program is pending final campus approval by the provost and president, and our accrediting agency, WASC, as well as the CSU Trustees.)

Originally published in the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal Oct. 14, 2011.

By David Goll

California’s public universities are about to launch their first pilot program for a doctoral degree in nursing, and San Jose State University will be one of the schools to offer it in fall 2012.

In Northern California, San Jose State will share the Doctor of Nursing Practice program with California State University, Fresno. It will admit up to 47 students in the initial class for both online and face-to-face instruction. Other campuses with the five-semester doctoral program will be a consortium of the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Fullerton campuses, and a stand alone program at San Diego State University.

This first-ever doctoral program at San Jose State is expected to better prepare working nurses for the increasing complexity of health care in hospitals and provide much needed nursing faculty for CSU campuses.

Health care professionals say there is a real need for this new program. Only 1 percent of nurses nationwide have earned doctorates in the practice, according to Jayne Cohen, director of The Valley Foundation School of Nursing at San Jose State.

“In this era of health reform, a master’s degree is not enough preparation. We need advanced clinical people to take care of patients at the highest level of care. We need nurses who can lead the teams of doctors, nurses and other specialists who increasingly will be working in teams in health care facilities.”

Lori Rodriguez, associate professor of nursing who is serving as director of the new program at San Jose State, said urban California, notably the Bay Area and Los Angeles — where the average annual pay for nurses is about $80,000 and $75,000 respectively — has no nursing shortages. But shortages are more acute in rural and less-affluent areas. The other concern is that a large percentage of nurses are approaching retirement age and are leaving the workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Health Professions projects a deficit of 100,000 nurses statewide within 10 years.

Trudy Johnson, chief nursing officer at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a recent report on the nursing profession that called for a doubling of nurses with doctoral degrees by 2020.

“We have a greater need for leadership, innovation, research and education today in our profession,” Johnson said. “Health care reform is bringing changes to health care delivery and there is increasing complexity in every part of this industry. It’s very important we have more doctorally trained nurses ready to come in to take leadership roles.”

Johnson said nurses will play a bigger role in some of the new-format health care centers called for under reform proposals adopted by Congress last year. Some will be primarily run by nurses, she said.

Valley Medical Center, she said, will offer partial tuition reimbursements for nurses who decide to enroll in any public or private doctoral course of study.

Startup details

The CSU Board of Trustees is expected to give final approval to the program in January. The only other such programs in the Bay Area are offered at two private schools: the University of San Francisco and Samuel Merritt University    in Oakland. The CSU system is the nation’s largest system of higher education with 433,000 students.

The San Jose State program is getting an initial infusion of $200,000 from the university to establish the program, but it will eventually have to become self-supporting through student tuition. Rodriguez said tuition will be $6,500 per semester, or half the cost of the private schools. She said seven San Jose State nursing professors will work as instructors for the doctoral students.

Building up faculty

Cohen said another benefit of the doctoral program will be to replenish the ranks of CSU nursing faculty. She has a staff of 53 tenure-track professors and lecturers, but will have two openings next year.

“We will be lucky to get two qualified candidates for each opening,” Cohen said. “In other academic programs, you might get 400 candidates for a single opening.”

Cohen said doctorates are required for tenure-track teaching positions at San Jose State, so the small number of nurses who earn doctoral degrees makes for a small pool of applicants.

Rodriguez said the looming hospital shortages and nursing faculty deficits have helped the program come together very quickly.

“We just started working on this program just last spring,” Rodriguez said. “This has moved at lightning speed.”

David Goll can be reached at 408.299.1853 or

David Goll covers commercial real estate, retail, economic development and transportation at the Business Journal.

Nursing faculty members observe students working in the nursing sim lab.

SJSU and Fresno State Launch Joint Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Nursing faculty members observe students working in the nursing sim lab.

Nursing faculty members observe students in SJSU's nursing clinical simulation lab.

(Editor’s Note: This program is pending final campus approval by the provost and president, and our accrediting agency, WASC, as well as the CSU Trustees.)

For the first time in the system’s history, prospective California State University graduate students may apply to Doctor of Nursing Practice programs planned to begin in fall 2012.

Of the initial three planned DNP programs, two will be offered jointly by multiple CSU campuses including Fresno and San José in the north and Fullerton, Long Beach and Los Angeles in the south. San Diego is planning a stand-alone program. The DNP will build on the CSU faculty expertise and campus resources based in existing Schools of Nursing.

“California’s health depends on the expert knowledge and care provided by nurses educated at our university campuses,” said Ephraim Smith, CSU executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “The CSU will now be able to add DNP graduates, who are experienced practitioners and have dedicated their lives to patient care, to the ranks of nursing faculty.”

How to Apply

The CSU began accepting fall 2012 DNP application on Oct. 1, 2011.  The deadlines to submit an application for admission may vary by CSU campus.

To apply, prospective DNP students submit a graduate application on CSU Mentor.  Then, students will need to visit the appropriate program website for details on program-specific admission requirements, including letters of recommendation, transcripts and exam scores.

Read a related CSU news release.

Film subject sitting on bench with scenery including pond in the background.

“Living Downstream” Regional Premiere and Panel Discussion

film poster shows film subjects face, with body made of water

The Public Health Nurse Club will host a regional premiere of “Living Downstream” Sept. 26 at SJSU.

Date: September 26, 2011

Time: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Location: Barrett Ballroom, SJSU Student Union

Summary: The Public Health Nurse Club at The Valley Foundation School of Nursing will host a regional premiere of the 2010 film “Living Downstream.” This is in collaboration with the SJSU Department of Health Science, SJSU Masters of Public Health Student Association and SJSU Health Science Undergraduate Student Association. The screening will be preceded by a light reception hosted by the SJSU College of Applied Sciences and Arts, and followed by a panel discussion. This event is free, open to the public, and expected to draw over 300 students, academics and professionals. Sponsors include the California Public Health Association-North and Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Based on the acclaimed book “by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., ‘Living Downstream’ is an eloquent and cinematic documentary,” says the movie’s website. “This poetic film follows Sandra during one pivotal year as she travels across North America, working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links. After a routine cancer screening, Sandra receives some worrying results and is thrust into a period of medical uncertainty. Thus, we begin two journeys with Sandra: her private struggles with cancer and her public quest to bring attention to the urgent human rights issue of cancer prevention.”

Paul English, California Department of Public Health state environmental epidemiologist and science adviser for the Environmental Health Investigations Branch, will moderate the discussion. Panelists include:

  • Dean Peterson PE, REHS – San Mateo County Public Health Department, Environmental Health Director
  • Barbra Burgel RN, PhD – Clinical Professor, UCSF School of Nursing, Occupational Health Nursing Graduate Program
  • Leticia Márquez-Magaña PhD – Professor of Biology, San Francisco State University, Health Equity Institute
  • Analilia P. Garcia DrPH MPH – San Jose State University
  • Dr. Cindy Russell MD – Palo Alto Medical Foundation

For more information, please contact Vanndy Loth of the SJSU Public Health Nurse Club.

Nursing students work at a clinic in Belize to check people's blood pressure. Photo by Ruth Rosenblum.

Nursing Students Gain Hands-On Experience in Belize

Nursing students jump as a group in front of a pyramid, Xunantunich Mayan ruins, in Belize. Photo by Paige Le.

Nursing students jump as a group in front of the Mayan ruins Xunantunich in Belize. Photo by Paige Le.

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant

Helping others and learning more about another culture went hand in hand, as 23 nursing students and two faculty members traveled to Belize for three weeks ending June 27.

Professor Ruth Rosenblum said the School of Nursing has offered faculty-led programs in the past, but not in the last few years. She chose Belize, a Central American country located south of Mexico and next to the Caribbean Sea, partially because its official language is English. Also, the country was recommended by ProWorld, an organization that offers international volunteer opportunities and internships.

“Although our cultures are very different in our beliefs, our values and our way of life, we all have the same basic needs and desires: to be healthy and cared for,” said Danielle Pepi, a senior nursing major.

The students set up free clinics and performed basic health check-ups in villages near their home base in the town of San Ignacio. Pepi said hypertension and diabetes are a couple physical conditions that afflict many Belizeans. A patient with unusually high blood pressure and blood sugar would be offered a ride to the nearest hospital or clinic to receive tools and prescription medicine.

Lecturer Arlene Spilker, who co-led the program with Rosenblum, said challenges during the trip included the humid, hot weather and “the feeling that we could have done more.”

“It would have been nice to do more, but what we did was very good and much appreciated,” Spilker said.

Pepi agreed, saying, “We could only do the best we can and I think this is something that rings true in any culture as a nurse.”

The students and faculty participated in weekend excursions, including hiking to the Mayan ruins Cahal Pech and Xunantunich, river tubing on the Mopan River, playing in the water of the Big Rock Falls, exploring the cave Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) and visiting the island Ambergris Caye.

My Lam, who recently graduated from SJSU, said she is working with ProWorld to gather data from SJSU’s trip and would like to use the information as the basis for a graduate research project in the future.

Lam said she enjoyed getting to know the locals and gaining exposure to a different environment. The trip also confirmed her nursing interests.

“I enjoyed working and I enjoyed health care,” Lam said. “I enjoy the whole idea of preventative health care as opposed to working in a hospital.”

The faculty members both said one of their favorite things was seeing the students grow during the course of the trip.

“It gave them a lot more autonomy,” Rosenblum said. “A lot of them said it was their first time feeling like a nurse and to do something without someone looking over their shoulder.”

SJSU, Fresno State to Plan Joint Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

In an effort to boost the number of instructors qualified to serve as nursing faculty members, SJSU and Fresno State will soon begin planning a joint doctor of nursing practice program (DNP). The program will be launched as early as fall 2012, pending approval by the CSU Board of Trustees at their meeting Jan. 25 and 26. Continue reading

SJSU Launches First-Ever Comprehensive Campaign

“Acceleration” Begins With $5 Million Gift Commitment From The Valley Foundation

Contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, Calif., — At an evening event Oct. 21, Interim President Don W. Kassing launched “Acceleration: The Campaign for San Jose State University” by announcing The Valley Foundation has made a $5 million gift commitment to the School of Nursing. In gratitude for this gift and over $3.5 million in past donations, the school will be named the San Jose State University Valley Foundation School of Nursing, pending approval from the California State University Board of Trustees in November. The dinner, for over 300 SJSU supporters at the Event Center, opened the public phase of SJSU’s first-ever comprehensive campaign with a $200 million goal by 2014. SJSU raised over $129 million during the private phase, beginning in 2006.

“Our nursing program is a perfect example of San Jose State University’s direct impact on our community’s quality of life,” Interim President Kassing said. “The Valley Foundation appreciates the critical role our corporate and community partners must play when it comes to providing students with access to the very best academic and professional programs. This gift, and our entire comprehensive fundraising campaign, is about securing a better future not just for our students and our university, but our community and our region.”

The gift will be used for two purposes: to invest in an endowment providing long-term support for the nursing school, and to provide current support for a state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab. In a broader sense, the gift will also allow San Jose State to take a more prominent role in addressing our nation’s nursing shortage. The United States faces a shortfall of up to one million nurses over the next decade. California’s share will be more than 40,000 full-time-equivalent nurses. The Valley Foundation, based in Los Gatos, serves Santa Clara County by funding non-profits in the health care and medical services fields, including educational institutions.

“When most aspiring students from our community set out to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing, there is just one place to go and that is San Jose State,” The Valley Foundation Chairman Phillip R. Boyce, who graduated from SJSU in 1966 with a business degree. “The Valley Foundation is proud to support these students and the university because we know our gift will impact the quality of care in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and health care facilities of all kinds in our region and beyond.”

Founded in 1955, the SJSU School of Nursing is the only public institution granting bachelor’s and master’s nursing degrees in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties. Current enrollment exceeds 1,400 nursing and pre-nursing students, instructed by over 50 faculty members. The clinical simulation lab features hi-fidelity mannequins including adult, child, toddler, infant, and birthing mother units. Programmed scenarios expose students to common and uncommon treatment decisions, team and family-member communication practice, and the debriefing and reflection that follow.

“Acceleration” marks the first time in SJSU’s 153-year history that the university will launch a highly organized, resourced and targeted effort to raise millions of dollars. The campaign encompasses all seven colleges, the University Library, Student Affairs and Intercollegiate Athletics. SJSU will seek gifts from private individuals, corporations and foundations in support of four areas: Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship ($75 million), An Investment in Students ($67 million), The Gateway to Silicon Valley and Beyond ($24 million), and Support for Existing Programs ($34 million).

Learn more about “Acceleration: The Campaign for San Jose State University.”

Learn more about the SJSU School of Nursing.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 27,400 students and 3,190 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.