DNP Grad Brings Evidence to the Bedside to Improve Patient Outcomes
As an expert nurse practitioner and an innovator, Audra Hanners always knew Ohio State was the place for her.
The now three-time Buckeye grad started her career in cancer research, before realizing she wanted a more hands-on perspective. In an effort to see how her work in the lab impacted patients at the bedside, Hanners turned to the College of Nursing. She soon realized that the online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program was the perfect way for her to connect research to practice.
Now a graduate of the DNP program, Hanners shared how the skills she gained help her improve patient outcomes — and why she encourages every online student to "lean in" to Ohio State.
Tell us about your background and what led you to nursing.
I started my education at Ohio State with a bachelor's in biochemistry. While doing cancer research, I found that I had a desire to see more than just good lab results. I wanted to see the actual patient that our research was helping. That was when I started to think about a career where I could interact and engage with patients.
"While doing cancer research, I found that I had a desire to see more than just good lab results. I wanted to see the actual patient that our research was helping. That was when I started to think about a career where I could interact and engage with patients."
Why did you decide to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice?
The Doctor of Nursing Practice at Ohio State prepares nurses to become evidence-based practice experts, meaning they can take the research evidence and then translate it and use it in practice. As someone with a research background, it seemed like the perfect way to bridge that gap.
Tell us about the scholarly project you completed as part of your program.
My project is a healthy thinking and eating program called Keto Prescribed. It's a nurse practitioner-led health coaching program targeted at African American females. We go out into the community and try to help people discover unique healthy lifestyles that work for them. We're continuing to refine the program so that it’s something other community centers and organizations can use to help people get healthy, prevent disease and even reverse disease.
How did the resources at Ohio State help you accomplish your project's goals?
Our projects allow us to ask if there's a better way to provide a certain type of care or intervention. For my project, I collaborated with my advisor and mentor Dean Bernadette Melnyk at the College of Nursing. I also partnered with Ohio State's Dr. Jeff Volek from the College of Education and Human Ecology. I also worked with the African American and African Studies Community Extension Center. I found that if you venture outside of your college, there's so many connections you can make that will have a really meaningful impact on you and provide you with a rich education. The opportunities that exist at Ohio State feel limitless.
"The opportunities that exist at Ohio State feel limitless."
What were some of the benefits to an online program for you?
The program was actually designed for a working professional, so being a nurse practitioner and being able to still work while doing this program and being able to use some of the work experience in class made it very meaningful.
To be able to discuss and learn from the unique experience of others in different locations is also valuable. For instance, I'm used to a large academic community with a health center right on site. But someone else told me they didn't have those resources, and that the closest thing was 100 miles away. It makes you think about the challenges that location might present and then think about how to solve those challenges, so the program is a robust experience for all of our students.
What was something else you enjoyed about the DNP program?
What are some of the key outcomes of this program?
As doctorally prepared nurses and evidence-based practice experts, we know how to look at research to make better decisions that are more cost effective and improve patient outcomes.
Our patients are literally telling us what they want. So, that is the natural next step: to be innovative, to think in that entrepreneurial mindset, or think "How can I, as an evidence-based practice expert, look at the evidence and start creating quality interventions that help people and really make change in the world?"
"How can I, as an evidence-based practice expert, look at the evidence and start creating quality interventions that help people and really make change in the world?"