The UCF College of Nursing hosted a lecture on designing innovative pathways through health care reform on Thursday, Aug. 22.

Dr. Joan Shinkus Clark, senior vice president and system chief nurse executive for Texas Health Resources in Dallas – Fort Worth Texas, was the featured speaker. Clark joined the Texas Health Resources leadership team in 2008, and represents nursing at the senior executive level. She has responsibility for advancing alignment and strategic nursing initiatives.

She discussed the prevailing industry response catalyzed by the Affordable Care Act, the key national, regional and local initiatives and trends in health care reform, and the role of innovation in transforming the health care delivery model.

“Health care is always changing,” said Clark. “And it is so important for nurses and nurse leaders to keep up with that change. Our knowledge of health care reform must be current, and we must be able to adjust the way we deliver care to our patients and ensure better patient outcomes.”

The free lecture, sponsored by Florida Blue, was part of the college’s Leadership in Practice Lecture Series, during which a national leader is brought in to discuss cutting-edge topics in health care. Attendees included nurses from the greater central Florida community, as well as college faculty, students, and alumni. They earned one contact hour of continuing education.

Carl Patten, director of the Florida Blue Center for Health Policy, was present to welcome attendees and thanked UCF College of Nursing for initiating this important discussion.

“As we enter this new era of health care transformation, nurses and physicians will be in greater demand, especially in Florida,” Patten said. “Nurses will play a pivotal role in meeting this demand, as more and more people gain access to health insurance.”

In addition to the UCF Nursing Leadership in Practice Lecture Series, Clark taught an intensive seminar the next day exclusively for college faculty and students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, which includes nurse executives, advanced practice nurses, and students studying to become nurse practitioners.

“Our Nursing Leadership in Practice Lecture series coupled with the intensive seminar helps keeps our D.N.P students abreast of key issues affecting health care,” said Dr. Susan Chase, associate dean for graduate affairs at the College of Nursing.

“Our goal with bringing together the three D.N.P. tracks for these intensives is to bridge the gap between leadership and practice. We want our nurse executives to better understand practice concerns because they are the ones developing the care environments in which clinicians practice. Also, we want our clinicians to better understand leadership issues because they are redesigning systems of care in both primary care and acute care settings,” Chase explained.

The D.N.P. at UCF has two entry points and three tracks.

The post-baccalaureate B.S.N. to D.N.P. educates nurses at a higher level and prepares them for becoming licensed nurse practitioners. These students start the program with classes on campus two to four times per month while preparing for the board-certification exam, but eventually move to an online format that aligns with the post-master’s Advanced Practice D.N.P. track.

The two post-master’s tracks are taught primarily online. Students come to campus for scheduled intensive experiences, allowing them the flexibility of working while pursuing their doctorate.

The post-master’s Executive D.N.P. is for current nurse executives who hold an M.S.N. in nursing administration. The goal of the program is to prepare nurse executives for multiple dimensions of administrative responsibilities within varied health care environments.

The post-master’s Advanced Practice D.N.P. is a clinical doctorate for nurses who are already licensed in an advanced practice specialty, such as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, midwives and nurse anesthetists. The program prepares clinicians to redesign health care systems and improve quality of care through evidence-based practice.

Clark earned a diploma in nursing from Montefiore Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa., a B.S. in health care administration from St. Joseph’s College in Maine, an M.S.N. from the University of Florida, and a D.N.P. from Texas Christian University. She is a graduate of the Johnson and Johnson Wharton Fellowship and is an ANCC Magnet Appraiser.

To learn more about the D.N.P. program at UCF, visit

For advising, contact Dr. Diane Andrews, coordinator of the Executive D.N.P. at, or Dr. Julee Waldrop, coordinator of the Nurse Practitioner D.N.P. and Advanced Practice D.N.P. at