Donna Hahn, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Martha Schneider, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Two Sentara RMH Medical Center nursing leaders have earned their doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degrees from the University of Virginia.
Chief Nurse Executive Donna Hahn, DNP, RN, NEA-BC and Critical Care Unit Director Martha Schneider, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, both earned their doctorate degrees in December 2013. They are the first RMH nursing leaders to achieve a DNP degree.
According to Hahn, while similar course work is required, a DNP degree focuses on clinical education and improving outcomes for patients, whereas a doctor of philosophy, or PhD, degree in nursing focuses on preparation for conducting research regarding clinical outcomes .
“I was attracted to pursuing a DNP degree because it focuses on, and can directly impact, the care we provide our patients every day,” Hahn said. “My degree work focused on issues nurses face on a daily basis in the patient care setting and on ways to improve the patient care experience.”
Hahn noted that the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a report titled “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” in 2010 in which they encouraged nurses to pursue lifelong learning opportunities. “I would hope other nurses would see the benefits of returning to school to further their formal education as a contribution to patients,” she said.
Hahn joined RMH in 2007 and has 36 years of nursing experience with more than 26 years in nursing leadership. Schneider joined RMH in 2009. She has spent 15 years in nursing and has 30 years of leadership experience.
“As nurses we have a responsibility to our patients to continue learning and growing in our profession,” Schneider said. “Within the Sentara system there is a commitment to continually pursuing advanced nursing education. When I started my career, I had an associate’s degree. Throughout my career I have worked to improve my nursing knowledge and my professionalism through education so that I can better support my staff and improve the patient experience.”
Sentara RMH offers a variety of support to nurses who decide to pursue advanced education, including tuition reimbursement and scholarships, noted Hahn. In addition, Sentara has its own nursing school for nurses to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN).
“Nurses within the Sentara system, including Sentara RMH, who have the desire and commitment to move to the next level can get the support they need,” she said.
is currently encouraging all associate’s degree-level nurses to achieve at least BSNs. “Nursing research has shown that patient outcomes improve with the more BSN level nurses a hospital system has,” Hahn says. “Our goal is to have 80 percent of Sentara RMH nurses achieve a BSN by 2020.”
Currently, she said, almost 60% percent of Sentara RMH nurses have BSNs, which is above the national average.