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Spotlight Shines on TESU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Students

TESU's Doctor of Nursing Practice program students (L to R) Cindy Cobb, Marvella Cephas and Anthony Fortenberry are skillfully balancing their course work with valor, advocacy and a commitment to patient care.

TESU's Doctor of Nursing Practice program students (L to R) Cindy Cobb, Marvella Cephas and Anthony Fortenberry are skillfully balancing their course work with valor, advocacy and a commitment to patient care.

Saving Lives, Advocating at the Highest Levels and Leading From the Front Lines

Three Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program students in the W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions are skillfully balancing their course work with valor, advocacy and a commitment to patient care. As National Nurses Month comes to a close, TESU is proud to share their stories.

Cynthia “Cindy” Cobb, BSN, MS, CSN, a school nurse at Oakview Elementary School in West Deptford, N.J., quickly intervened in March 2022 when the grandparent of a student went into cardiac arrest during a routine afternoon pick up at the school. Cobb and another nurse/parent began administering CPR on the woman until EMTs arrived. The woman has since fully recovered and noted that medical personnel informed her that she would never have survived without the nurses’ intervention. The recent article describes the ordeal and spotlights Cobb’s commitment to patient care: “N.J. school nurse honored for saving life of student’s grandmother.”

Cobb feels that the DNP curriculum corresponds with her aspirations as a nurse leader. She also finds the program affordable and the multiple perspectives she’s exposed to in course interactions conducive to her professional growth.

“I was excited to see that TESU offered the program in my home state and noted that it was much more affordable than similar programs I had investigated,” she said. “I enjoy the structure and the flexibility of online learning at the doctoral level – an option that was not available years ago when I pursued my MS degree. Advancing through the program with a cohort of nurse leaders representing various specialties lends itself to professional growth for all of us, and I always found all the support I needed from the staff.”

If Cobb’s fellow student, Marvella Cephas, MSN, RN, CEN, has her way, far fewer nurses and social workers will be victims of workplace violence. During the recent ’Day on the Hill’ in Washington, D.C., Cephas, director of Nursing for the Pediatric Emergency Department at Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital, N.J., and secretary of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) shared her views on the subject with legislators and the public. During her virtual testimonial, she explained why the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Workers Act is so crucial to those caring for patients and helping families to cope. View her presentation on LinkedIn.

Like Cobb, Cephas’ course work has broadened her perception of the nursing profession and the important role of systems-level leadership.

“The program provided a major change in my mindset, as frontline leaders generally tend to focus on their specific units. I now see things from a systems-level perspective with attention to quality improvement, the patient experience and fiscal administration,” noted Cephas, who views patient and healthcare policy and advocacy as important components of leadership.

She also feels that nursing students should integrate these themes early in their academic experience.

“Novice nurses can build advocacy skills by becoming involved in professional organizations and learning the ways they can impact healthcare policy,” she asserted. “They can advocate on many levels – from basic patient care to healthcare policy that has the potential to impact millions of patients. As they advance in their profession, nurses are poised to be the best advocates for improvements to healthcare. We must continually harness this power to benefit our patients, their families and our communities.”

Student Anthony Fortenberry, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at Callen Lorde-Community Health Center in New York, says that quality healthcare should be all-inclusive and accessible to everyone. Fortenberry, who began the University’s DNP program in early 2022, underscored his advocacy for his patients from the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS community in the 2020 New York Times Magazine article “A Shadow Medical Safety Net, Stretched to the Limit.” He maintains that patient advocacy can enrich and elevate the profession and give a voice to those often marginalized by the system.

“Comprehensive healthcare is an essential human right. Nurse leaders have a responsibility to ensure those who are most at risk for poor health outcomes receive the care they deserve,” noted Fortenberry. “For me, this means promoting health equity in nursing care and advocating for health policy that supports all patient populations. Recent legislative actions that limit or eliminate access to healthcare for transgender patients, in particular, are incompatible with our mission as clinicians to provide quality nursing care for everyone that requires it.”

Much like Cobb and Cephas, Fortenberry is finding that the DNP program supports his values and aspirations.

“I gather great insight from fellow DNP students through our weekly discussion assignments. These interactions influence my work every day. The research we do in our course work is making me a more informed nurse leader,” noted Fortenberry. “I am especially focused on the efforts surrounding quality improvement and am always looking for opportunities to increase efficiency within clinical operations.”

To learn more about the DNP program, visit

Vi-Anne Antrum, DNP

"I was able to understand and build on the foundation that I already had to be able to serve people better."

Watch Vi-Anne »

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