Released on July 29, 2020

Reflecting growing national demand for nurse practitioners and nursing faculty, UCF College of Nursing will graduate the most total Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD students in its history this weekend.


It’s a fact. Nurses with the highest level of degree are in high demand.

Nursing, like many other healthcare professions, is moving to the Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) as a standard for advance practice to assure the highest level of scientific knowledge and expertise. And nurse practitioners are in demand.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a 26 percent faster than average growth rate in the profession over the next eight years. With an aging and growing population, nurse practitioners can help alleviate the shortage of primary care providers as well as increase access to high quality, cost-effective care according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Additionally, nursing faculty shortages across the country are limiting student capacity when there is a growing need for more educated nurses according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.


Answering the Call

UCF is helping meet national demand by graduating 28 total doctoral students this weekend – the most in a single semester.

Two Nursing PhD students will contribute to the future of nursing education and science.

An impressive 26 students will graduate from the DNP program. Twenty graduates completed the BSN to DNP program, and will practice in their specialty as a nurse practitioner after passing board certification. The remaining six graduates are already Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who had previously earned a master’s degree.

Among the graduates are several UCF alumni, including Shelbie Hileman ’15 and Tykema Johnson ’16. “I fell in love with UCF’s BSN program, and once I decided to pursue my DNP, I knew that I did not want to attend any other school,” said Johnson who is the first college graduate in her family.

“I am always so impressed with the professionalism and the degree of success of UCF alumni. There was no doubt I wanted to pursue my doctorate here,” added Hileman.

UCF’s graduate nursing programs are recognized among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. Graduates of the accredited program have repeatedly achieved a perfect 100% pass rate on national certification exams.

The reputation is why Albert Albors Ramos chose UCF. “The university has more than 20 years of experience providing online degrees and [is] ranked among the best,” he said. “When my advisor said, ‘Congratulations, Dr. Albors, you have successfully completed your project,’ I felt so proud of this great accomplishment.


These 28 UCF students will graduate this weekend with a nursing doctoral degree – the most in the college’s history.


Summer 2020 PhD Graduates

Meet this weekend’s Nursing PhD graduates and the contributions they have already made to nursing science with their dissertation research projects. These scholars will lead nursing into the future as faculty members and researchers.  

Amanda Houston, MSN, MHA, RN, CHSE
“The Relationship of Cognitive Load and Different Participant Roles on Knowledge Retention in Simulation-Based Learning Among Undergraduate Nursing Students”

Valorie MacKenna, MS, RN, CNE, CHSE
“Undergraduate Nursing Students’ Depth of Reflection and Perceptions of Self-Debriefing Following Virtual Simulation: A Multimethod Descriptive Study”

*MacKenna is also earning a healthcare simulation graduate certificate and recently accepted a position as the director of simulation-based education at the University of Connecticut’s School of Nursing.


Summer 2020 DNP Graduates

Meet all of this weekend’s DNP graduates who have already made contributions to patient care with their independent DNP scholarly projects, and who will continue to make an impact by improving patient outcomes as clinical providers and leaders.  


Post-Master’s Advanced Practice DNP Graduates

Albert Joel Albors Ramos, MSNA, APRN, CRNA
“The Effect of an Educational Intervention to Influence Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists Use of Opioid-Free Anesthesia”

Stephanie Battaglini, MSN, APRN, FNP-C
“Initiating an Influenza Triage Protocol in the Urgent Care Setting”

Sonja Carroll, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
“Improving Education, Screening, and Support for Cancer-Related Fatigue in the Ambulatory Infusion Center”

Tammy Kirby, MSN, APRN, FNP-C
“Evaluation of New Graduate Registered Nurses (NGRNs) Comfort and Confidence During a Pediatric Resuscitation”

Michael Lagoe, MSN, APRN, FNP-C
“Smoking Cessation Based on the Stages of Change”

Yuanyuan Reich, MSN, APRN, FNP-C
“The Impact of Urine Dipstick Testing in the Emergency Department Fast Track”


BSN to DNP Graduates

Veronica Berluche, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Adolescent Sexual Health Risk Assessments to Improve Sexual Health in Primary Care: An Integrative Literature Review”

Lisa Bosworth, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Malnutrition and Hospital Readmission for Older Adults: A Retrospective Analysis of Nutrition Data in Patients Experiencing Readmission”

Lajuana Campbell, MSN, RN, CCRN
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Track
“The Use of a Bowel Protocol for Management of Constipation in Home Hospice Care:  A Quality Improvement Project”

Yuisa Colón-Rosado, BSN, RN
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Track
“The Impact of a Delirium Education Program on Knowledge, Perceptions and Practices of Nurses in an Adult Intensive Care Unit”

Suzeline Delice, BSN, RN, CCRN
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Track
“A Quality Improvement Project Evaluating NEWS Implementation in an Emergency Department”

Tran Gallagher, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Melanoma Risk Assessment in a Primary Care Setting”

Loida Guillén Strong, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Universal Precautions and Protection against Communicable Diseases: An Educational Intervention for Pre-School Teachers”

Shelbie Hileman, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Evaluating Knowledge Retention of Patients Undergoing Advanced Lipid Panel Testing Through the Use of a Questionnaire: A Pilot Study”

Lorraine Humbert, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Depression Screening Protocol for Chronic Kidney Patients”

Kathleen Jenkins, BSN, RN
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Track
“The Impact of an Educational Intervention on Critical Care Nurses’ Knowledge on the Critical Care Pain Observation Tool® (CPOT): A Quality Improvement Project to Initiate the Application of the ABCDEF Bundle for ICU Liberation”

Tykema Johnson, BSN, RN, CCRN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Increasing Advance Directive Completion in Individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)”

Manouchelie Joseph, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Improving Knowledge and Health Behaviors in Type 2 Diabetics with Diabetes Self-Management Education”

Daniella Khemnarine, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Constipation Management in Primary Care: Current Practice and Effectiveness of Treatment Plans”

Leoncio Laroco III, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“An Educational Intervention to Increase Awareness of Low Health Literacy in Cardiac Nurses”

Allison Libert, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Barriers Towards Vision Correction in Children After Failed In-School Vision Screening”

Ali Payan, BSN, RN, PCCN
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Track
“A Medication Reconciliation Quality Improvement Project for Prescribing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)”

Sarah Sakala, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Caring for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Outpatient Practice: An Educational Intervention for Nurse Practitioners”

Katie Schmidt, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Using a Clinician Tool to Improve Care of Patients with Diabetes”

Puttida Vorapipatana, BSN, RN
Family Nurse Practitioner Track
“Development of an Education Tool to Improve Casting and Splinting: A Pilot Process Improvement Project”

Angelica Wyman, BSN, RN
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Track
“The Effect of an Educational Intervention in Improving Knowledge of Risks and Alternatives to Opioid-Based Pain Management in Nurses at a Veteran’s Health Administration Medical Surgical Care Unit”

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