One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"
Sunsites-Pearce, Arizona

Congratulations, Amanda Dawn Bennett
Doctor of Nursing Practice

June 2009

Willcox native, Amanda Dawn Bennett, has received the UA College of Nursing’s first Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, the highest level of training in advanced nursing practice. She is also the first to receive the DNP degree in southern Arizona. The DNP degree is similar to other practice doctorates such as MD, JD, and PharmD (as opposed to research-focused doctorates). Dr. Bennett received the DNP degree, with an advanced practice nursing focus on rural health systems and vulnerable populations, and was honored with the alumni council award from the College of Nursing at the convocation ceremonies on Friday, May 15, 2009.

The DNP is the third degree Dr. Bennett has received from the UA College of Nursing. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1999 and her Master of Science in 2004. Before returning to school for her Master's she worked as a Trauma RN in the Emergency Department of the University Medical Center.

After attaining her Master’s she returned to Willcox to serve as a primary care provider, and to intern with Dr. Dawn Walker, at the Sulphur Springs Medical Center and the Sunsites Clinic. At the start of 2008, Dr. Bennett and Physician Assistant Mick Drage joined Dr. Walker in the new Walker Family Medicine clinic located at 801 W. Rex Allen Drive in Willcox, 520-766-5000.

Dr. Bennett’s Master’s thesis was titled "Preparing Primary Care Nurse Practitioners for Rural Practice: A Multi Disciplinary Generalist Role". Her doctoral dissertation was titled, "Project GENESIS: Community Assessment of a Rural Southeastern Arizona Border Community"; she studied the health culture of the Willcox

community in regards to health service utilization, definition of health, and assessed the community's capacity to act on their own health issues.

Preparation for NP practice is a graduate degree. Most NP programs currently award Master of Science degrees. However, in 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommended a shift in preparing all advance practice nurses to the doctoral level by 2015, with the degree title of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

In response to the AACN’s 2004 recommendations, at the UA College of Nursing, Sally Reel, PhD, RN, CS, FNP, FAAN, fast-tracked the development of their DNP program. Consequently, in March 2006, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the new DNP degree, offered exclusively online, and the College admitted its first group of students in the fall 2006 semester. The UA College of Nursing was the first college in Arizona to offer the DNP degree.

The UA College of Nursing also offers a PhD in nursing for students looking for a research-focused program. The UA College of Nursing was the first college in Arizona, and the first west of Mississippi, to offer the PhD in nursing. This academic year the UA College of Nursing has awarded seventeen PhD’s. Of colleges offering PhD nursing degrees, the national average awarded in an academic year is four.

Advanced doctoral degrees in nursing are still only offered at a few nursing colleges. We are fortunate that the UA College of Nursing is one such college and that Amanda Bennett, DNP, FNP-C, took advantage of their online DNP program to become the first Doctor of Nursing Practice in southern Arizona.

Way to go, Doctor Amanda!