Arkansas Nurse Educator Earns DNP, Eyes Future in Simulation

Arkansas Nurse Educator Earns DNP, Eyes Future in Simulation

At Lana St. Clair’s workplace, she’s known as the “everything lady.”

“I’m everybody’s backup and I’ve worked in just about every capacity,” says Lana, clinical educator at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Lana has worked at St. Vincent’s on and off since 1982, and during those three decades she has done everything from teach in the LPN program, facilitate and coordinate courses for nursing staff, and run the RN residency program. “I love it,” Lana says. “This is a place whose core values mirror my own. It just feels like a family atmosphere.”

Inspired to earn her MSN – and then a DNP

In 2009, Lana felt the pull to pursue further education, and her busy life led her into an online MSN program. When she graduated in 2011, Lana knew she wasn’t finished with her educational pursuits. “I started looking around and wanted to find a Doctor of Nursing Practice that was focused on evidenced-based projects and the translation of knowledge into practice versus a Ph.D. program heavy on theory,” says Lana, who is involved in her organization’s Research Council.

The right university

American Sentinel’s DNP Educational Leadership program was exactly what Lana wanted, and she was ecstatic to be accepted into the program in June 2013. She went to part time at St. Vincent’s and dove right in. “The program truly opened my eyes and gave me so many new insights into nursing education across the United States,” she says. “I have learned so much from the people in my cohort. We share our professional experiences and what everyone is working on in their own organizations.”

A newfound passion for simulation training

Throughout the program, Lana also developed a new passion: simulation in nursing. She wrote her capstone on “The Impact of Simulation in Bedside Reporting on Patient Satisfaction Scores,” and even helped St. Vincent’s in their quest for funding for simulation mannequins.

“Hospital-based simulation labs aren’t as common, so it’s a chance for us to be a pioneer,” Lana says. As her hospital’s clinical educator, she hopes to identify opportunities to incorporate innovative methods of training nursing staff into her work.

Onward and upward

Completing the DNP was no easy feat, between work, caring for her elderly mother and life in general. But Lana says she was able to lean on her family, friends and coworkers. American Sentinel’s team was also supportive. “I feel that American Sentinel is highly focused on the students,” she says. “The professors, the staff, and even your fellow students are really dedicated to helping students feel supported and empowered.”

In June 2015, Lana graduated from American Sentinel. She is hoping to one day secure a leadership position that allows her to further the use of simulation labs in her organization. “I would love to lead and manage educational training and maybe even teach one day at a place like American Sentinel,” she says.

Her ultimate goal, Lana adds, is the same one she has had her entire career: to make a difference. “I feel like I learned so much that I can use in my work,” she says. “In nursing, we all want to improve the care of our patients. I have always strived for that, and with these new knowledge and credentials, I think I’m even more prepared to do so.”


Inspired by Lana’s story? A DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in nursing education programs. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.

American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees,  including an RN to BSN program and advanced degree programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case management, infection control, and executive leadership.


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