The University of Central Florida’s College of Nursing kicked off its inaugural Distinguished Lecture Series this month in conjunction with the opening of the new Executive Doctor of Nursing Practice graduate degree track. The Jan. 12 event supported by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida began by recognizing the program’s first student cohort and holding a reception for students, faculty and the professional community.

The College welcomed Donna Herrin-Griffith, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNEP, FACHE, as the inaugural distinguished speaker. Herrin-Griffith serves as the senior vice president/administrator and chief nursing officer for Martin Memorial Health Systems in Stuart, and was the 2009 president of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. Herrin-Griffith spoke about “Leading for the Future: Planning for the New Healthcare Environment” to the prospective and current students, faculty,  healthcare administrators, clinical nurse leaders, and community partners.

Herrin-Griffith emphasized the importance of nursing leadership within the framework of healthcare reform, and said nurse administrators still function as nurses when they lead care. Their influence on practice may be more indirect, she said, but it still contributes to quality patient care. She shared strategic priorities that healthcare administrator and executive leaders should be cognizant of in their leadership roles.

By the conclusion of her lecture, Herrin-Griffith inspired her listeners and helped them understand that all nurses and healthcare administrators are working in a leadership role, and that they are charged with the responsibility of shaping the future of our healthcare industry. Nurses at the event had the opportunity to earn one contact hour of continuing education credit.

The program was led by Dr. Diane Andrews, the Graduate Leadership and Management Executive Track Coordinator, and Dr. Susan Chase, the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, both of whom are graduate faculty members in UCF’s College of Nursing.  The kickoff event spanned three days, including the distinguished lecture series and welcome reception, a conversation and brainstorming session with Herrin-Griffith and the new Executive D.N.P. student cohort, and the initial meeting of the students and faculty in their first semester courses.

To learn more about the Executive D.N.P. Program, visit or contact Dr. Diane Andrews.