A High Degree of Nursing Leadership

DNP Alum Angelo Venditti

The highest degree a nurse can earn is the Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP. Carlow's DNP is unique. Yes, it can be taken almost entirely online-only two Saturdays per semester are spent on campus. There's also a solid clinical component. But it's the leadership component that sets it apart: Carlow doesn't just teach its future doctors of nursing practice how to be better nurses. It teaches them how to be better leaders.

This leadership component was an important factor to Angelo Venditti, DNP '15, regional chief nursing officer (CNO) for Geisinger Health System North East, based out of Scranton, Pa.

As CNO, Venditti is responsible for overseeing and coordinating nursing departments and their daily operations in the northeast region of Pennsylvania. He knows what nurses need. 

"Carlow's program is great for chief nursing officers and nursing directors," says Venditti. "They're nurses, but they're not necessarily clinically specialized. Carlow's DNP program has both a clinical and a leadership focus."

Renee Ingel, PhD, is the director of Carlow's DNP program. When she heard, during a conference call with Venditti and some of his staff, that Western Pennsylvania lacked nursing leadership programs, she did a double-take.

"This is exactly who Carlow's DNP is for - systems-level thinkers and change agents. It made perfect sense for us."

On Venditti's recommendation, Ingel and Wendy Phillips, director of graduate admissions at Carlow, visited the three Geisinger hospitals in the Scranton area-Geisinger Northeast, Geisinger Community Medical Center, and Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center. Their mission? To spread the word about Carlow's doctoral nursing leadership program.  

"We tried a 'Tea Cart,' approach," recalls Phillips. "Along with a hospital representative, we went around the hospitals to give snacks and hot coffee or tea to the nurses working there, as a way of thanking them for the work they do. We also let them know about Carlow and what we can offer them."

They found exactly what Venditti promised: a huge demand for a DNP program that encourages and enriches the leadership necessary for the ever-growing contingents of nurses in all aspects of healthcare.      

"This program brings together an entire cohort of folks from one system," says Ingel. "Using a cohort format provides unique opportunities for those within a single healthcare system to work together, which creates peer support. The students can help each other and collaborate very efficiently."

Because the Tea Cart was a great success. Phillips and Ingel easily recruited nine new DNP students from that visit alone, but Ingel expects more. "Typically, we get the most students enrolling for fall toward mid to end of summer." This effort won't stop there  -- they plan to take the same approach to other hospitals.

As the landscape of higher education shifts, notes Phillips, the need for fresh approaches to recruitment is more important than ever.

"Outreach like this is a great way to connect the efforts of alumni, faculty, administration and admissions," she says. "We're all working toward the goal of recruiting and educating new students at Carlow."


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