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School of Nursing Makes History With First Doctoral Graduates

(left to right) Pamela Fields, Jennifer Palagi, Cherno Bah, Claudia Miewald, Andrea Lambe
(left to right) Pamela Fields, Jennifer Palagi, Cherno Bah, Claudia Miewald, Andrea Lambe

The first cohort of Boise State Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students will graduate on May 7. The cohort consists of five nurse leaders: Cherno Bah, Pamela Fields, Andrea Lambe, Claudia Miewald and Jennifer Palagi. This marks the first doctoral graduates in history from Boise State’s School of Nursing and College of Health Sciences.

“We are tremendously proud of our DNP graduates,” Tim Dunnagan, dean of the College of Health Sciences, said. “This is an important milestone in our history. The college is dedicated to preparing healthcare leaders who will contribute to and impact health care reform at the local, state and national levels.”

The Boise State DNP program provides the academic credentials and education to support and strengthen skills and knowledge needed by today’s clinical nurse leaders. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the DNP curriculum focuses on building sophisticated expertise in assessing organizations and systems, in order to create and implement evidence based strategies that improve health outcomes.

“At Boise State University, we recognize the close interactions and trust between nurses and the populations they serve,” said Pamela Strohfus, associate professor and coordinator of the DNP Program. “A doctoral-level education builds upon nurses’ knowledge and experiences and provides DNP graduates with the tools to craft policies and processes that improve the health and care of patient populations.”

As part of the DNP program, these five students have already expanded their professional practice roles by completing scholarly projects designed not only to improve the health of patient populations, but also to create positive change within organizations and health systems.

In his scholarly project, “The Development and Implementation of Hospital-Based Clinical Guidelines to Enhance Nursing Staff Efficacy in Glycemic Management at a Large Psychiatric Teaching Hospital,” Bah investigated how staff diabetes education could enhance health outcomes for patients in a large mental health hospital. Cara Gallegos, assistant professor for the School of Nursing, served as his faculty advisor. Bah is a board certified psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner and conducted this quality improvement project at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

Fields, a board certified family nurse practitioner, studied how rehabilitation exercises conducted prior to orthopedic surgeries could lead to more successful post-surgery patient outcomes in her project, “Prehabilitation Impact on Post-operative Risk, Readmission Rates, and Patient Satisfaction.” Strohfus and Molly Prengaman, associate professor for the School of Nursing, served as her advisors.

Lambe, a registered nurse who works for Saint Alphonsus, examined the process and significance of sustaining healthy behaviors in individuals participating in cardiac rehabilitation services as a part of her project, “Facilitating the Sustainability of Health Behaviors in the Phase III (graduated) Cardiac Rehabilitation Population.” Sara Ahten, associate professor for the School of Nursing, served as her advisor.

Miewald, a psychiatric-mental health clinical nurse specialist who serves as the director of Kootenai Behavioral Health in northern Idaho, evaluated processes and gaps in mental health and addiction services in association with the development of a regional crisis center. Shoni Davis, associate professor for the School of Nursing, served as advisor for Miewald’s scholarly project, entitled “Process Evaluation on Crisis Services in Northern Idaho.”

Palagi, a faith community registered nurse employed at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, developed and implemented a transitional care model for faith community nurses to use as a strategy for reducing hospital readmissions. Jane Grassley, the School of Nursing’s JoAnna (Jody) DeMeyer Endowed Chair for Nursing, served as Palagi’s advisor on her project, entitled “Faith Community Nurse Care Transitions Intervention Feasibility Project.”

“Boise State School of Nursing is proud to respond to the call of leading healthcare organizations, including the Institute of Medicine, to extend the education of nurses and to amplify their roles in advancing health care transformation,” said Ann Hubbert, director of the School of Nursing. “We congratulate our first cohort of doctoral students, and applaud the growing recognition for the evolving roles of expert nurses in our health care systems. We look forward to watching our new DNP graduates succeed in their careers and impact the fields of nursing and healthcare.”

For more information on the DNP program, visit