Excellence in Online Facilitation Award

Donna Otto and Lynelle Phillips received the Excellence in Online Class Facilitation Award from MIZZOU Online for their work in the N4970 Nursing in Communities course for the RN to BSN Option. The award was presented at the University of Missouri Celebration of Teaching awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 16.

Pictured are Lynelle Phillips, Laura Foley (instructional designer) and Donna Otto. The award was presented by Kim Siegenthaler, Director of Mizzou Online.

Distance Learning

Whoever said there aren’t enough hours in the day clearly didn’t know Julio Loya. The senior nurse manager for the Trauma Progressive Care Unit and Abdominal Transplant/Surgical Oncology Intermediate Care Unit at Banner University Medical Center Tucson Campus in Tucson, Arizona, Julio works full time at the only Level 1 Trauma Center for Southern Arizona. By day, he is responsible for the supervision of nursing staff and, ultimately, the delivery of safe, efficient patient care, which includes being available on the units to support nursing staff, helping administer medications to patients, attending meetings where decisions that affect unit workflow or environment are made and much more.

“I think the largest part of my job consists of being flexible and being present as different situations develop,” he says.

But that’s just his day job. At night and on weekends, Julio — who’s worked as a nurse for more than 13 years — switches into what he refers to as “student mode,” when he studies and completes assignments toward his PhD in nursing through the MU Sinclair School of Nursing’s online program.        

Finding his path

Although Julio’s passion for nursing is evident from his career and educational pursuits, it’s not the path he started out on. In fact, his academic journey began at the University of Arizona, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in general biology.

“After realizing that I did not want to be a biologist, I did not really know what to do next,” he says. “At the suggestion of my brother, I decided to check out nursing school. Due to my looming graduation and pending engagement to my now-wife, I decided to enroll in a program that would start right away.”

Julio went straight from the University of Arizona to Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona, where he earned an Associate of Applied Science in nursing. Soon after graduation, he began working at Banner University Medical Center.

“After being a nurse for approximately three years, I took a leadership position as an assistant manager on my unit,” he says. “Since having a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) was a job requirement, I started an online RN-BSN program in 2008, and I obtained my BSN in 2010.”

It was during those undergraduate courses on professional nurse development that Julio realized he wanted to pursue a graduate degree, and after extensive research on programs across the country, he landed on the Sinclair School of Nursing (SSON). 

“I originally enrolled in the Master of Nursing in Leadership program in the Sinclair School of Nursing as a part-time student since I thought that I wanted to continue on a leadership path in the acute care setting,” he says. “Through coursework completion, I came to the realization that I really enjoy research.”

With the encouragement of program mentors, including Dr. Maithe Enriquez (current SSON faculty), throughout his classes in the MS(N) program, Julio decided in 2014 to change gears again, this time to enroll as a full-time student in the SSON’s PhD in nursing program.

“Once I started interacting with faculty and completing some of the requirements for courses, I realized that I made a great decision by enrolling at Mizzou,” he says. “The decision to apply to the PhD program was made really easy due to the support and encouragement from the faculty and also through the quality interactions I had in the virtual classroom with my fellow students.”

Distance and self-discipline

Although Julio’s daily schedule is an ambitious undertaking in and of itself, he’s quick to point out that the SSON program has been flexible enough to fit in among the rigors of a full-time job.

“One of the striking differences from my past experiences in school is that everyone at the SSON really takes the time to listen and to help you achieve your goals,” he says. “As a busy working professional, there are times where life has happened, and the faculty and staff at the SSON have been extremely supportive.”

The online aspect of the program is a benefit as well. Today, Julio lives in Marana, Arizona, just north of Tucson, with his wife of 13 years, Krista; their black Lab, Luna; and cocker spaniel, Shadow. But he says the 1,300+-mile commute between home and school isn’t a problem.  

“While the experience of being in a distance-mediated program requires self-discipline and self-motivation to meet deadlines, the faculty and staff are always willing to meet virtually if you’re not on campus,” he says. “Whether it is email, a Skype session or a telephone call, faculty and staff respond quickly to any inquiries.”

Next steps

On track to graduate with his PhD in December 2019, Julio hopes to secure a faculty position at a research-intensive university with a dual role as faculty and researcher.

“The PhD program at the SSON continues to prepare me to assume that role upon graduation,” he says. “The rigorous coursework along with the mentorship offered by both faculty and my PhD committee chair and members have made an enormous difference.”

The program has impacted his present work as well.

“As a PhD student, you are becoming one of the world’s experts on a very narrow aspect of a topic,” Julio says. “As I have advanced through the PhD program, I am now able to make connections and analyze and interpret data in ways in which I was unable to before. Pursuing my PhD through the SSON has cemented my belief that the science of nursing requires an evolving way of thinking to ensure nursing delivers on the promise of providing evidence-based care to individuals and communities.” 

Click here for more on the Sinclair School of Nursing’s Ph.D. program.

RSVP today for the 28th Annual Award Banquet & Alumni Reunion

The Sinclair School of Nursing and the MU Nursing Alumni Association cordially invite you to attend our upcoming events:

Awards Banquet
Friday, April 20, 2018
6:00 p.m.
Country Club of Missouri
1300 Woodrail Avenue
Columbia, MO 65203

Alumni Reunion
Saturday, April 21, 2018
8:30 a.m.
University Hospital


This event wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors! Thank you!
Platinum-level sponsors: MU Health Care and Truman VA 
Gold-level sponsor: CoxHealth
Silver-level sponsors: Boone Hospital Center, Citizen’s Memorial Healthcare, and SSM Health

Goals and Growth

An active duty military officer, father of six and doctoral student in MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing, John Rossi is the walking definition of balance. Not only does he serve as a full-time military nurse, but he’s also an incredibly involved parent, sharing homeschooling duties with his wife, Nancy, for five of their six kids. Although some days can feel more chaotic than others, John has been a hard worker and goal setter for his entire adult life. So when he set his sights on finding a highly ranked graduate nursing program that would fit into his busy life, MU’s SSON climbed to the top of his list.

“Since I’ve started, I’ve seen nothing but excellence,” says John, who’s working toward his doctorate in psych mental health and family practice, with a minor in education. “Every experience has been a fulfilling one so far, and everything that I’ve been involved with at the university has allowed me to advance the next step in achieving my ultimate goal.”

Although John’s journey to the DNP program was a practical progression in hindsight, it’s a long way from where he started nearly two decades ago. John joined the military right out of high school in 2001 and spent nine years as an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy as a helicopter search and rescue swimmer. He enjoyed a successful career and a lot of opportunities, but the repeat deployments were becoming more and more difficult with his growing family at home.

“When it all came down to it, I didn’t want to deploy and be away from my family anymore,” says John, whose kids are now 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 1. “So I separated from the military and went back to school at Brigham Young University.”

It was at Brigham Young where John earned his nursing degree — a Bachelor of Science in nursing and gerontology.

“I quickly realized that life isn’t as simple as you think,” John says of deciding what was next after graduation. “I had always wanted to be an officer in the military, though, and now I had the ability. So I applied for commission in the Air Force to be a nurse.”

That was three years ago. Today, John is stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just east of Dayton, Ohio, where he works full time as a nurse at Wright-Patterson Medical Center.

Back to school

It wasn’t long after starting his first full-time nursing position that John realized he wanted to return to school for his doctorate degree, which probably didn’t come as a surprise to those who know him well. John and Nancy, who have been married for 15 years, homeschool their children, with John teaching science and history and Nancy teaching the rest. Nancy also recently went back to school for her bachelor’s degree.

“Besides the military, we’ve been nothing but education and full steam ahead,” John says. “My ultimate goal is to retire in eight years from the military; then I’d like to have a small practice of my own and have my primary job be working as an educator who teaches at the university level.”  

John says the structure of SSON’s program itself has been a big factor in his ability to balance his various responsibilities — both the expected and unexpected.

“The DNP program is set up in such a way that it allows me to accomplish my goals in the time I need to do it in,” John says. “For me as a military member, my life can change at the drop of a hat, and the school as been nothing but supportive in this endeavor, making sure that if I deploy or something happens, we have a plan for what we need to do and, more importantly, a plan for what I can do when I get back to continue seamlessly with the program.”

He also notes a difference in his approach to nursing since beginning at MU.

“It really has focused my abilities and added emphasis to my previous education by giving me more content to work with,” he says. “I can already see what a better nurse I’ve become because of what I’ve learned through the program.”

‘The first step is starting’

John’s balancing of a full-time workload with family life and school means there are no 18-credit-hour semesters in the cards, and the path to the finish line is slow but steady. Taking a course or two at a time, he’s on track to graduate in May 2022. But it’s not a race — it’s about the end goal.

 “A graduate degree doesn’t happen overnight, but you take it one day at a time,” he says. “Commit to it, and then start the progress. You can figure out the ABCs and XYZs later. The first step is starting.”

Click here for more on the Sinclair School of Nursing’s DNP program, including entry pathways and areas of study

Best of Both Worlds

For Beth Mettes, happiness is found in the country, with fresh air, plenty of acreage and beloved animals surrounding her. A circulating nurse in the operating room of University Hospital’s Level 1 Trauma Center, she lives on a farm in northeast Missouri with her husband, Tyler; two Labrador retrievers; goats; horses; chickens; and a wild bunch of barn cats.

“Until a recent tragedy, we had a wonderful pet bull named Franklin who thought he was a dog and was always on our Christmas card,” she adds. “I love spending time outdoors, riding or grooming horses, hunting, gardening, water skiing or driving around in my Jeep with the top and doors off.”

Although Beth, who earned her BSN from Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing in Quincy, Illinois, commutes to Columbia for work from her home in Macon, Missouri, she was searching for a graduate nursing program she could complete from home on her days off. And thanks to the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing, she’s found that living and serving the community she loves while pursuing graduate education are in no way mutually exclusive.

“I was impressed with the idea of an online program that I could complete from home,” she says. “When I started looking at options, the prestige of the Mizzou name was appealing. I chose the DNP program because MU no longer offers a master’s program for nurse practitioners, and I decided that if I was going to jump in, I better jump in the deep end and just go all the way.”

Balance and goals

There’s serenity to Beth’s life on the farm that helps balance her nursing job at MU, where her 12-hour shifts begin bright and early at 6:30 a.m.

“I am blessed to be involved in a variety of cases within the operating room,” she says. “Each day is a surprise when I get to work. I might be doing an ear/nose/throat case, orthopedic (bone) case, neurology (brain or spine) case, abdominal case, gynecological case or urology case.”

For Beth, it’s the variety of procedures and various surgeons that keep her job interesting.

“On rare occasions, I am honored to be involved in organ donation cases where I have cried while watching the miracle of life unfold before my eyes,” she says. “The life-saving trauma surgeries we do are always fast-paced and challenging. I recently participated in a living donor kidney transplant. That means we were in one OR receiving the kidney of the patient next door who donated their kidney to a family member. I love getting to be part of cases like these.”

In addition to her full-time nursing job in the operating room, last spring Beth took a second job as a mental health clinical instructor for SSON undergraduate nursing students.

“Before the operating room, I was a charge nurse in the psychiatric ER,” she says. “I missed the patients at the psychiatric hospital and wanted to share with nursing students that mental health nursing isn’t like the movies and is not as scary as it sounds. I hope to recruit a few of them to become mental health nurses.”

Because of the flexibility of the DNP program, Beth’s graduate courses have fit seamlessly into an already-full schedule. And although the days can be long with so much to juggle, Beth says the online capabilities of the program have proved invaluable in allowing her not only to achieve her goals but also to connect with a variety of instructors with diverse backgrounds and specialties.

“The way the program is designed, you can access your class anywhere you have internet access,” Beth says. “Additionally, the online program allows SSON to employ the best of the best when it comes to instructors. … We had a well-known pediatric ER CNS teaching our pediatric class from St. Louis, we have an exceptional FNP who works full time in an urgent care in Jefferson City sharing her immeasurable wisdom about assessment and diagnostic skills, our mental health leaders are well-known mental health nurse practitioners from St. Louis and my personal mentor is an FNP who practices in Kansas City. She is three hours away from me, yet I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine from her.”

Return to rural

With her May 2018 graduation date quickly approaching, Beth is preparing to transition to being a nurse practitioner, providing primary care for patients of all ages. Demand for nurses with her qualifications is high, particularly in rural settings.

“As I get closer to graduation, I am discussing opportunities with a private practice within my community,” she says. “I hope to work with that collaborating physician, but we have discussed the idea of a satellite clinic in a neighboring town. This community has so many people who could benefit from a primary health care provider. I have a special spot in my heart for the farmers of my community. I would be honored to provide them with resources to remain healthy through preventative health and routine management.”

For Beth, serving the needs of her small town is about more than just providing health care — it’s about continuing her family’s long line of service and giving back to the community that raised her. Beth’s mother provided for the family and community by selling crop insurance to local farmers, and her father, a rural electric cooperative’s lead lineman, provides electricity to the community.

“I want to be part of continuing to provide much-needed services to our area by returning to the region as a nurse practitioner,” Beth says. “There is a need for providers to fill a service in rural areas, and because I grew up appreciating a rustic life, I am incredibly interesting in the peacefulness of remaining in the rural environment. There is an unexplainable calmness of sitting by a fire and listening to the crickets and coyotes.

“The quietness and fresh air of the country is calming and peaceful,” she continues. “I would never want to give that up.”

Click here for more on the Sinclair School of Nursing’s DNP program, including entry pathways and areas of study.