Posted on Oct 11, 2013

Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at USF prepares world-class nurse leaders

Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at USF prepares world-class nurse leaders

From its start, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at University of South Florida College of Nursing has been preparing world-class doctoral-level students for advanced and independent clinical practice. This rigorous and demanding program prepares nurses with the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to assure the best quality of care and provide positive patient outcomes. DNP is the highest practice degree any nurse can achieve.

“The DNP program at USF College of Nursing offers an unprecedented opportunity to train with nationally-recognized clinical faculty, pursue advanced specialty training in high-demand signature clinical residencies including dermatology and preventive cardiology and to experience state-of-the-art, interprofessional training through advanced and high fidelity simulation experiences,” said Melanie J. Michael, DNP, MS, ARNP-C, assistant professor and director for the DNP program at USF College of Nursing. “A DNP degree from USF will allow you to expand your clinical expertise and professional goals to excel as a practice leader.”

USF College of Nursing DNP student, Jana L. Perun, MS, ARNP-BC, AOCNP, is the perfect testament to the excellence of DNP at USF. Perun has reached quite a milestone even before completing her degree. Her DNP project on “Implementation of a Survivorship Summary of Care and Follow-up Care Plan Using the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer Standard 3.3” is currently under development as a small scale pilot with plans for implementation in an electronic format throughout MD Anderson Cancer Center-Orlando (MDA).

Jana Perun's DNP Project being implemented at Orlando Cancer Center
USF College of Nursing DNP student, Jana L. Perun, MS, ARNP-BC, AOCNP

Perun’s project focuses on the implementation of breast cancer survivorship care summaries and care planning, which aims to promote healthy self-care behaviors in women who have completed primary treatment for breast cancer. Perun said her project spurred great interest among leaders at MDA.

“MDA and other organizations have identified a critical need for an organized breast cancer survivorship care planning process to help improve care coordination for breast cancer survivors and meet the stated goals of the Commission on Cancer,” Perun said. “Therefore, they are using my project to individually implement a breast cancer treatment summary and care plan for every breast cancer survivor who has completed primary treatment.”

Perun, who expects to graduate in May, 2014, recently accepted a nurse practitioner (NP) position with MDA Cancer Center in the Breast Cancer Survivorship Clinic. As NP, she provides ongoing care to those who have completed primary treatment for breast cancer and are living with the disease.

Dr Michael said Perun’s success, before she even completed her doctorate degree, underscores the effectiveness of DNP program at USF College of Nursing.

“We are so proud of Perun’s accomplishments,” Dr. Michael said. “Her success demonstrates the potential for DNP students and graduates to positively influence the delivery of care and care outcomes at the systems level through the translation of research and evidence based practice. Her project’s success also highlights the importance of the translational work being done by DNP students and the potential value to our partners in the community, the region, and beyond.”

The College of Nursing’s DNP program, which provides entry options at the post-baccalaureate and the post-master’s levels, prepare graduates for direct roles in advanced practice and clinical leadership by using technology and information systems and implementing the science developed by nurse researchers. The program’s requirements and objectives are based on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) essential curriculum elements.

“USF College of Nursing has developed a one-of-a-kind DNP Program,” Dr. Michael said. “We have the first in the nation Clinical Residencies in critical and high demand healthcare specialties including brain/spinal cord injury and rehabilitation, cardiology, cognitive impairment, dermatology, oncology, nurse anesthesia, gerontology/aging, and many other areas. These residencies allows graduates to learn in highly-specialized clinical settings to maximize training and practice and deliver the best care for individuals and families.”

For Perun, USF College of Nursing was the only choice. She said the nationally-certified professors, live classes, and interdisciplinary learning through USF health, have clearly prepared her for advanced practice at the doctoral level.

“In an essence, I am living the DNP curriculum through my academics and career changes,” Perun said. “My education at USF is giving me opportunities to be a successful NP in breast cancer survivorship at MDA Cancer Center in Orlando. The USF College of Nursing DNP program is the ONLY choice for those who strive for excellence in their advanced practice role.”

For more information on the USF College of Nursing DNP program visit