Welcome New Faculty

New additions to the Vanderbilt School of Nursing faculty bring expertise in education, practice, research and scholarship.


Kelly Aldrich, DNP, RN-BC, FHIMSS
Associate Professor
Director of Innovation

Aldrich is an informatics nurse specialist with more than 35 years in health care clinical, leadership and informatics roles, including serving as the inaugural chief nursing informatics officer for HCA. She teaches nursing informatics in the master’s and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. Her focus is interoperability, usability and advocacy for front line clinicians who need data liquidity to provide person-centered care. Aldrich also serves as the director of innovation for the School of Nursing and as chief clinical digital officer for the nonprofit Center for Medical Interoperability.


Jennifer Barut, PhD’18
Assistant Professor

Barut is an experienced psychiatric nurse, nurse leader and behavioral health executive with a passion for education and mentorship. She has served in a variety of leadership positions, including chief nursing officer for Vanderbilt Behavioral Health and chief executive officer for Haven Behavioral Health in New Mexico. Her instructional background includes increasingly responsible roles leading to director of clinical education for VBH. Barut’s interest include recovery and improving health in underserved populations. She teaches in the Nursing and Health Care Leadership program.


Duke Chenault, MSN’00, DNP’16, PMC’16, ACNP-C, FNP-BC

Chenault shares his nearly two decades of clinical experience in community and employer-sponsored clinics with students in both the Family Nurse Practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. His focus is using leadership and evidence evaluation skills along with patient safety-focused quality improvement. His clinical practice is with the Vanderbilt Health at MNPS Employee & Family Health Care Centers clinics, five primary care clinics serving Metropolitan Nashville Public School employees, families and retirees. He has been full-time clinical faculty and taught part time at the School of Nursing since 2004.


Cate Enstrom, DNP’19, AGACNP-BC

Enstrom has spent her nursing career in acute care and surgical critical care settings. Her clinical background includes emergency medical services, rapid response, trauma and surgical critical care. She is a former Vanderbilt DNP AGACNP Critical Care Fellow. Her academic interests include mechanical ventilation, simulation and advanced practice providers in critical care. Enstrom maintains a clinical practice in the cardiac intensive care unit at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville. She teaches in the PreSpecialty program and the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty.


Rebekah Hayes, MSN’16, DNP’20, AGPCNP
Hayes is passionate about educating and equipping PreSpecialty students with the fundamentals of nursing while helping them develop the strong critical reasoning skills they will need in the clinical environment. She has worked in a variety of settings, including skilled nursing facilities, an outpatient clinic and a small community hospital, where she also served as a nurse educator. Hayes has extensive experience in pain management both post-operative and chronic, including evidence-based outcomes for the use of non-narcotic treatments.


Jason Jean, MSN’00, DNP’16, DNP, FNP-BC

Jean combines a strong clinical and education background with health care leadership expertise in his teaching in the Nursing and Health Care Leadership and DNP programs. He has taught both in the classroom and in hospital settings, including most recently, serving as director of faculty development for 300 physician training programs at HCA Healthcare. Other administrative experience includes progressively responsible positions at Cigna and Vanderbilt Health. As a practitioner, he has worked in community clinics, cardiac programs and ambulatory care clinics, among others.


April Kapu, MSN’05, DNP’2013, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN
Associate Dean for Clinical and Community Partnerships

Kapu joins the School of Nursing from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she was associate chief nursing officer for advanced practice nursing and director of the Office of Advanced Practice. Kapu was instrumental in the development of VUMC’s adult critical care nurse practitioner program and the growth of its advanced practice workforce to more than 1,400 professionals. She is charged with strengthening VUSN’s clinical and community programs and its continued partnership with VUMC. Kapu is the current president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.


Brenda J. Kulhanek, PhD
Associate Professor
Program Director, Nursing Informatics

Kulhanek is an experienced nurse informaticist with extensive academic and corporate expertise, including serving in senior clinical education roles for TriStar Health and HCA. She also led clinical informatics and clinical practice and education for Adventist Health. She has more than 10 years experience in teaching master’s level nursing informatics. Kulhanek is a past president of the American Nursing Informatics Association and presents and publishes regularly. In addition to directing the Nursing Informatics specialty, she teaches in the MSN and DNP programs.


Erica May, MSN’16, DNP’18, FNP-BC, AGACNP-BC, ENP-C

May combines a love of teaching with experience in emergency nursing, emergency medicine, first aid and rescue. She has taught in the BSN program at Lipscomb University and in the MSN program at Vanderbilt. Before joining the Emergency Nurse Practitioner specialty full time, she lectured in the program on topics such as dental blocks, cardiac dysrhythmia and wound care and supported ENP pediatric and capstone simulations.


William Travis McCall, PhD, MSN’13, AGACNP-BC, FNP-BC, PG, CCP
Assistant Professor

McCall has more than 15 years clinical experience in emergency health care settings that range from community emergency departments to high-pressure prehospital care and transport. He has published on pediatric trauma in the emergency department and caring for patients from school shootings. His scholarship includes work on secondary trauma stress and nurse welfare. In addition to teaching in the Emergency Nurse Practitioner program, McCall is a flight nurse practitioner with Vanderbilt LifeFlight and has completed more than 1,000 patient transports.


James Muchira, PhD
Assistant Professor

Muchira focuses on transmission of cardiovascular risk from parents to their children. Using data from multigenerational cohorts, he found that offspring of parents with heart-healthy lifestyles live nearly a decade longer without cardiovascular disease than offspring of parents with unhealthy lifestyles. He has also found that maternal heart health—as opposed to paternal—is a stronger predictor of their offspring’s time to onset of heart disease or stroke. Muchira’s current research investigates factors that contribute to parents-child transmission of cardiovascular disease.


Melan Smith-Francis, MSN’06, DNP, CNM, FNP-C
Assistant Professor

Smith-Francis is a certified nurse-midwife and family nurse practitioner with a passion for preparing students to be advocates for mothers and children. Before joining VUSN, she taught at Austin Peay State University and Simmons College. She has extensive clinical experience in midwifery, newborn/infant and primary care, as well as educational support regarding breastfeeding, menopause, fertility and nutrition and exercise. She is dedicated to decreasing cesarean rates, preterm births and morbidity and mortality among women of color, and empowering women regarding their health and nutrition.


Jade Vergara, MSN’13, AGPCNP-BC

Vergara has expertise in community health and caring for senior adults, particularly the homebound and in residential settings. Her interest in geriatrics began when she was part of a research team studying Parkinson disease and later, dementia. Vergara has taught community health in the PreSpecialty program and helped facilitate clinical immersion for AGPCNP students. She recently published regarding telehealth for geriatric patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vergara teaches in the PreSpecialty program.


Jessica Walker, MSN’15, DNP’17, PMHNP-BC
Assistant Professor

Walker teaches in the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, PreSpecialty and doctor of nursing practice programs, and is faculty in the interprofessional Vanderbilt Program in Interpersonal Learning. She works clinically providing outpatient psychiatric consultations for a homeless outreach team through Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Advanced Practice Clinics. Prior to joining the School of Nursing full time, Walker worked for Homeless Health Services and the Adult Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry Service, and was the Psychiatry Advanced Practice Provider Team Lead at VUMC.