In 2013, Brenau University graduated the first five students in its Doctor of Nurse Practitioner program; Maureen Frances Vidrine of Monroe, Georgia, Angela Ann Simmons-Butler of Clarksville, Georgia, Ann Marie Peck of Gainesville, Georgia, LaChaka S. Coffee of Atlanta, Georgia, and Shelia T. Campbell of Ellenwood Georgia.

Doctorate of Nursing Practice program earns accreditation

Jul 5, 2022
Alyson Shields

The Doctorate of Nursing Practice program in the Ivester College of Health Sciences at Brenau University has been granted its initial accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Brenau started the DNP program in 2009 and was one of the first in the nation to start one.

“Because it has been focused on nursing leadership and executive nursing, there was never a need for it to be accredited by CCNE,” Troy Heidesch, director of the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing, said. “We always thought we had an exceptional program and this accreditation confirms that for those looking at Brenau and the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing.”

The accreditation is for five years, the maximum amount of time CCNE allows for programs seeking initial accreditation, Heidesch said. The accreditation is based on an evaluation of the program in fall 2021.

Heidesch said the outcome of the accreditation process couldn’t have been better.

“Usually, CCNE will find areas that could use some improvement or additional documentation but, in Brenau’s case, CCNE found we met or exceeded every standard,” Heidesch said. “The on-site evaluation team commended Brenau, the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing, the quality of the students who have graduated from the program, and the exceptional support of the program by executive leadership and the dean of the Ivester College of Health Sciences.”

Jill Hayes, professor of nursing, said while the accreditation is not required for the program to grant degrees, it is recommended to demonstrate a program of excellence.

“Some agencies in which our graduate students work and/or carry out their research require a program to be accredited, so this accomplishment makes our students’ educational journey easier,” Hayes said. 

Nicole Bansavage, BU ’16, is in her final year of the DNP program. She said she delayed her education until the program was accredited.

“I decided to put my DNP program on hold in 2020 because it was important to me to graduate from an accredited program,” Bansavage said. “I work for an academic medical center that only has academic agreements for collaborative research with accredited programs, which I believe sets a high standard. This accreditation removes barriers for students.”

Jane Buffington
Jane Buffington

Jane Buffington, BU 19, is an associate professor of nursing at Brenau and obtained her DNP at Brenau as well. 

“My DNP from Brenau has opened the door to be hired as a subject matter expert in the simulation arena,” Buffington said. “With my DNP, I have also been asked to help with research projects in the Northeast Georgia Health System simulation center.”

Buffington is also a PRN nurse at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and a certified healthcare simulation educator.

“I was hired before the Brenau DNP program was accredited, but this accreditation has improved my credibility as a leader and a practitioner.”

Last June, CCNE awarded a 10-year accreditation to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing and post-master’s certificate in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner programs following a two-year review process.