1. White, Kathleen Murphy PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

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NAME: Kathleen Murphy White, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

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Current Affiliation(s): Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, Maryland


Area(s) of Specialization: Practice Policy Leadership and Quality and Safety


Professional Education: PhD (Health Policy), MS in Nursing (Med-Surg CNS), BSN


Certifications: NEA-BC


The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) presented its prestigious 2014 Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Educator of the Year Award to Kathleen M. White, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The Award recognizes an NACNS member for outstanding professional achievement as a CNS educator. It acknowledges the recipient's excellence and innovation in preparing CNSs and in implementing the NACNS Statement on CNS Practice and Education.


Dr White developed an innovative CNS capstone practicum in which students work with an interprofessional team to perform a clinical outcomes, performance improvement, or quality improvement project. Recent projects have included analyzing hospital-acquired infection rates, reviewing rates of induced labor and factors that influence them, improving hospital readmission rates, and analyzing culture of safety data. The course consistently receives highest marks from former CNS students, who report that through it they have gained transferrable skills and knowledge that have helped them improve nursing care and advance their CNS role in the organization.


Dr White was a member of a research team that conducted a systematic review of the literature to evaluate the safety, quality, and effectiveness of the advanced practice registered nurse roles. The study revealed that hospitals with CNSs have lower length-of-stay costs associated with their patients and that CNSs are associated with lower rates of complications for patients.


"For her dedication to providing her students with the skills and experience they need to excel as CNSs, we are delighted to present Dr White with the CNS Educator of the Year Award," said NACNS 2014 President Les Rodriguez, MSN, MPH, RN, ACNS-BC, APRN. "Through her innovative approach to course design to her research supporting the CNS role, Dr White has gone above and beyond in ensuring CNS education is of the highest quality."


White holds a PhD and an MSN from the University of Maryland. She earned her BSN at the University of Cincinnati.


As an educator of CNS students, why are your students attracted to this particular advanced practice nursing role?

The students we typically have in our program are experts in a nursing specialty, and they want to stay at the point of care but want to have a larger impact on care at the departmental or system level. They want to influence quality care through the staff and through evidence-based practice that they are a part of building for the organization.


How do you describe the role of the CNS to your students and others?

I tell them that a CNS is an expert nurse and a "jack of all trades" who is expected to be a leader, change agent, consultant, patient advocate, staff advocate, staff educator, researcher, and quality-of-care improver for their area of influence (unit, department, or organization). Of course, then we discuss how 1 person could possibly do all of this, and that is when I hook them, because we talk about how everyday is different and the challenges and opportunities working in a CNS role.


What do you think are the best teaching strategies or most promising educational innovations for today's college graduate students?

I guess I don't believe that there is 1 set of best teaching strategies. There are so many innovations in education, and we try to use them across curriculum and to give students varied opportunities to learn. Not everyone is a visual learner, so if we provide only visual learning opportunities, we are going to limit some students learning capabilities. I like the online learning environment and have been teaching much more online. However, it is a challenge to convert a course from traditional classroom style to the online environment. I have found that some things I really like to do face-to-face don't work for online learning, so it makes us be creative and consult with our instructional designers to help us with innovation.


Being in a clinical discipline, during the course of study for a CNS, they often spend time with a CNS preceptor who helps supervise their clinical experience. Describe the ideal preceptor for your CNS students.

The ideal preceptor is an experienced CNS who feels comfortable with the various CNS roles. However, we don't concentrate on every role or area of influence in each of our 3 practicum experiences. We have some CNSs, by virtue of where they work and their role expectations, who prefer and choose to precept students in either the role, specialty, or outcomes management clinical practicums. Some preceptors like students with them every semester-that is my ideal preceptor. LOL!


What impact has the NACNS Statement on CNS Practice and Education had on your role as an educator or your curriculum for CNSs?

It has been very important to supporting CNS faculty in the delivery of the curriculum, particularly in resource use and content development. Thank you for that statement.


From an educator's perspective, what do you perceive as the key challenges in the graduate nursing education of CNSs today?

The biggest challenge that CNS educators face universally is finding appropriate preceptors in a shrinking pool of preceptors. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that the numbers of CNS graduates have not increased over the last 10 years at the same rate as other advanced practice roles when the need for them is great to replace baby-boomer CNSs who are retiring or cutting back employment. In addition, some new state regulations governing title protection and recognition of CNSs as APRNs may limit CNSs who previously functioned in the CNS role, were educated as CNSs, but may not be able to use the title of CNS in their state in the future. These individuals are not and will not be able to serve as preceptors.


To date, what do you perceive as your greatest accomplishments as a CNS educator?

My greatest accomplishment I share with the other CNS educators at Johns Hopkins. I believe "our" greatest accomplishment is a quality program that has met the changing role and requirements for CNS education and has innovated to offer an online option to prospective students who are unable to find CNS education in their state. We are very proud of our quality online option!


What advice would you give to one of your CNS students starting out in their career?

Regularly and consistently measure, measure, measure outcomes of care in their specialty in order to show the impact of their practice on the organization's priorities.