EKU Online Nurse Practitioner Program Wins UPCEA Excellence Award

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Eastern Kentucky University’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program won the UPCEA South Region Program of Excellence Award for quality teaching and learning. The 100-percent online program, which was introduced in 2013, has built a reputation for academic rigor and student support.

Faculty in the EKU Online Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Program accepted the Program of Excellence Award from UPCEA President Nelson Baker.

Faculty in the EKU Online Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Program accepted the Program of Excellence Award from UPCEA President Nelson Baker.

Community is the foundation of a successful online program. Developers of Eastern Kentucky University’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program kept community and connectivity at the forefront of their thoughts when designing this program.

Eastern Kentucky University’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program won the UPCEA South Region Program of Excellence Award for quality teaching and learning. The 100-percent online program, which was introduced in 2013, has built a reputation for academic rigor and student support.

“Community is the foundation of a successful online program. Developers of Eastern Kentucky University’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program kept community and connectivity at the forefront of their thoughts when designing this program,” read the nomination materials.

UPCEA’s mission is to raise awareness about and promote high standards for continuing education programs. Outstanding programs and individuals are recognized on an annual basis. The winning EKU team includes Program Coordinator Rachael Hovermale, Assistant Professor Wanda France, Clinical Faculty Maurine Hume, Clinical Coordinator Aileen Jones and Instructional Designer Kara Taylor.

EKU’s psychiatric mental health nursing program has a 98- percent first- time pass rate on national certification exams thanks to effective instructional design, interactive content and student-instructor collaboration. Future advanced nurse practitioners engage with the course content, connect with fellow students and communicate directly with faculty. In one course, they watch an interactive video of a professor conducting a psychiatric interview. In another, they study a case-based scenario and assess a fictitious patient. Then they build a treatment plan and discuss it with other students and instructors. Communication happens through discussion boards, blog posts and video conferencing.

“We are proud of this program,” said Hovermale. “Students tell us they not only feel confident taking their licensing exam but in practice as well, and they are glad they chose EKU for their graduate degree. It’s rewarding to hear that and also be recognized by our peers at UPCEA.”

More than 97 percent of those surveyed reported being satisfied with their online learning experience. Students commented that faculty were caring and regularly available to answer questions or provide guidance. They particularly enjoyed having weekly opportunities for live virtual discussions with their professors. Since the program is designed for working nurses, each session is recorded for those who are unable to attend.

UPCEA is a leading national, nonprofit professional organization with more than 400 member institutions. Established in 1915, it supports the enhancement of quality standards, promotes academic excellence and furthers awareness about the importance of professional, continuing and online education.

EKU’s online graduate nursing programs are ranked in the top 30 by U.S. News & World Report. More than 3,400 students are pursuing degrees and certificates with EKU Online. The EKU College of Health Sciences offers numerous online graduate nursing options in psychiatric mental health, including the master of science in nursing (MSN) and a post-MSN certificate. Students can also pursue the post-MSN certificate with a family focus.

To learn more, visit go.EKU.edu/NursingExcellence2019.

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Michelle Gorin
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