UK College of Nursing

UK College of Nursing celebrates 30th anniversary of prestigious doctoral program

Faculty, students and alumni gathered at UK’s Boone Center on Thursday, Feb. 8 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the college’s PhD program.

The program, ranked among the top eight nursing doctoral programs in the country by the U.S. National Research Council, has produced more than 130 graduates since 1992.

“The PhD program in the College of Nursing has attracted stellar students from all over the world,” said Debra Moser, director of the program. “These students have gone on to build highly successful and productive programs of research, to mentor the next generation of nurse scientists, and to improve the health and well-being of patients, families and communities. They are making an impact in Kentucky and across the United States and the world. We’re extraordinarily proud of them and the PhD program that launched them.”

A day of education and celebration

The featured speaker was Cynda H. Rushton, a professor of clinical ethics in the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the School of Nursing. As part of the Nursing Leadership Lecture Series, she gave at a talk entitled “Cultivating Moral Resilience to Address Complexity in Health Care” to an audience of doctors, nurses, students and the public in the Karpf Auditorium in UK Chandler Hospital. She was also the guest speaker at the formal celebration later that evening.

Other speakers included Janie Heath, dean of the College of Nursing and Terry Lennie, associate dean, who spoke on the significance of a PhD degree in nursing. Dean Emeriti Carolyn Williams  presented an oral history of the nursing PhD program.

Earlier in the day, the college hosted the Office of Nursing Research Open House to celebrate the recently renovated space to emphasize the importance of nursing research to the UK HealthCare community. Dr. Mark Newman, executive vice president for health affairs, UK Provost David Blackwell and UK HealthCare Chief Nurse Executive Colleen Swartz each gave remarks.

Why students choose the College of Nursing

Jessica Harman is her second year in the PhD program after earning her BSN at UK. Through the opportunities afforded to her as an undergraduate, she got a position in UK’s cardiovascular ICU, where she still works as an on-call nurse while she completes her studies.

“I choose UK for my PhD because of the fantastic opportunities and mentorship that the program has,” said Harman. “The RICH (Research and Interventions for Cardiovascular Health) research group is full of incredibly established, respected researchers who expertise in cardiovascular nursing research has allowed me numerous opportunities and allowed me to progress through the program quickly and efficiently.”

Ifeanyi Madujibeya is in his first year in the program. He received his BSN from Berea College. He chose UK for because of the resources available to pursue his research in the use of mobile health technology to improve self-care in patients with heart failure.

“The program has all the resources to support my progress in my area of research and to help me develop to a well-rounded nursing researcher,” said Madujibeya. “Especially, the opportunities to be mentored by world-renowned faculty members and to collaborate in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research at UK are too good to overlook.”

A history of success

The PhD program was first approved in 1985 under then-Dean Carolyn Williams, who stressed the importance of research and publications. The first students were accepted in 1987, and in 1992, the first class of doctorate students graduated.

In 2006, the PhD program launched a curriculum that built on the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to prepare nurses for research at the doctoral level.

Doctoral students have the opportunity to participate in faculty members’ research programs, such as psychosocial and biobehavioral interventions for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, management of critically ill patients, promoting self-management of chronic illnesses, domestic and workplace violence, tobacco policy and smoking cessation, occupational health and safety, health disparities, health risks in pregnant women, pediatric asthma, and more. Currently, 46 students are enrolled in the program.


Next steps:

  • Nurses at UK HealthCare provide leading-edge patient care and play a vital role in enhancing each patient’s healing process.
  • Interested in working at UK? We’re hosting a Nursing Job Fair on Feb. 22 from 4-8 p.m.