“I think that the D.N.P taught me a lot of things I didn’t know I didn’t know. It really stretched me to think about things differently.”
In May 2009, Pamela Herendeen, D.N.P., R.N., P.N.P.-B.C., had the honor of being the first student to graduate from the School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The accomplishment marked not just a milestone for the School but also for Herendeen who boasts a long and accomplished career.
Becoming a nurse was fulfilling a childhood dream for Herendeen. She started out as a staff nurse at Rochester General Hospital. While there she enrolled as a master’s students at the University of Rochester School of Nursing to purse her degree as a pediatric nurse practitioner. She made the move to Strong Memorial Hospital in 1992. Although she worked for a short time in a community practice, Herendeen missed the hospital setting. So she took a position at Strong Pediatric Practice, part of Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, and that is where she has remained for 18 years. In her role as a senior nurse practitioner, she serves a high-risk vulnerable population of children and teens providing both well-child and chronic care.
About 14 years ago, Herendeen got involved in evaluating children for abuse. An integral member of the team that established the Bivona Child Advocacy Center in Rochester, today she still provides medical care through REACH, an agency program that offers services and support to meet the needs of child victims of sexual or physical abuse and their families. Herendeen, an associate professor at the School of Nursing, also lectures nationally and has published articles on a variety of child abuse topics. She has become a valued resource and an advocate within the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Rochester community.
Given her clinical focus, Herendeen didn’t pursue a Ph.D. despite interest in taking her education further. “For years, I toyed with the idea, but it just wasn’t for me. I considered an Ed.D. But then I heard about the D.N.P., and at that first moment I knew it was the perfect fit,” she says.
Herendeen, who started taking courses in the fall of 2006, knew that she wanted her capstone project to be in some way related to the prevention of child abuse. “I wanted to see if we could improve the way that people parent,” she says. “So I started by looking at how well child care is delivered. For many folks a well child visit is quick and the recommendations about feeding and sleeping are just reminders. But there are parents who need more support, who need anticipatory guidance.”
Herendeen’s capstone turned into a small pilot study that brought together moms for a one-hour group discussion following their well-baby physicals. This setting and the social support proved to be a huge success in a number of ways. The moms in the group reported fewer urgent care visits, fewer emergency department visits and fewer phone calls to nurses. The group as a whole had a better no-show rate than what is average for typical clinic visits. And the project was cost neutral since the only thing it required was finding a space to meet and coordinating the visit times. Herendeen plans to continue working with the initial group of moms and a task force is looking at how to continue this program on a larger scale.
“I really believe that this is what the D.N.P is all about. I’m taking all of the research I did and translating it into practice change,” she says. “Going through this program has prepared me to be a better clinician. It’s informed my practice and affected how I will look at systems issues so that I can ask the question ‘How can we better deliver care?’”