PhD in Nursing Science Program

Spotlight on Our Students

Meet our Class of 2014 - 2015

The PhD in Nursing Science Program at Vanderbilt is committed to academic excellence. We prepare our students for intellectually rewarding academic and research careers. Our students engage in a variety of scholarly activities and collaborate with faculty in nursing and other disciplines. Through mentorship and collaboration, our students learn critical skills and gain the knowledge they need for a successful and productive career in nursing.


Nasreen Bahreman, MSN, RN, PCNS-BC

Baltimore, MD
Track: Clinical Research
Faculty Adviser: Dr. Shelagh Mulvaney

nasreen bahreman

I am faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. I have been a pediatric nurse with many years of clinical experience. My interest in research began when I became a research coordinator on a faculty’s NIH funded grant. I learned a great deal, but most of all I learned how much I enjoyed being challenged and also how much I needed to learn. After I spent a very long time searching for the perfect fit, I found what I was looking for in Vanderbilt. Besides the reputation, ranking, and the opportunity for distance learning, what I was most excited about was to find a great number of faculty with expertise in pediatrics. In particular I have a mentor who will undoubtedly challenge me to think outside the box. I am interested in looking at behavioral modification and support practices to enhance self-management in adolescents with chronic illness and improve parent-teen communication related to illness.


Nicole Beckmann, MS, RN, PNP

St. Paul, MN
Track: Clinical Research
Faculty Adviser: Dr. Terrah Akard

nicole beckmann

I live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area of Minnesota.  I work as a pediatric nurse practitioner at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program as well as an instructor of nursing at St. Olaf College. I am drawn to improving the patient experience during bone marrow transplant.  I understand the immense importance of this research to children and their families as they journey through the challenges of bone marrow transplant.

The reward will be in using my research to shape interventions that positively impact children undergoing transplant. I was drawn to the faculty expertise in pediatric palliative care as well as the technology based format which allows me to further my research education without stepping out of practice and away from my population of interest. My research interests are factors that improve quality of life among pediatric patients undergoing bone marrow transplant.  


Whitney Kvistad, MSN, RN

Hazen, ND
Track: Clinical Research
Faculty Adviser: Dr. Mary Jo Gilmer

whitney kvistad

As a sibling survivor of a child with cancer, my nursing practice and research inspiration is my older sister Krista. Her life dream was to become a nurse and I have often reflected on the fact that she interacted with numerous healthcare providers throughout her treatment, yet nurses were whom she sought to emulate.

My background is in Business Administration and Social Entrepreneurship and I worked previously in the construction industry as an estimator for a mechanical contractor. What a change it is to be a nurse! This background underpins my vision to integrate business acumen with developing solutions in healthcare.

Active involvement with non-profit organizations such as Care Partners, as a pediatric bone marrow transplant volunteer; DesignWise Medical, in pediatric medical devices; and working as a volunteer research assistant on a study aiming to benefit the work ofSupersibs! for siblings of children with cancer, has further guided my direction for research.

My interests are focused on palliative care, the family-sibling experience of care for children with major illness or disability, and family-sibling bereavement after the loss of child with major illness or disability. Noting nurse leaders consistently publishing in these areas, I chose Vanderbilt for the tremendous opportunity for mentoring by those impacting my area of interest. I currently reside in Hazen, North Dakota and my clinical practice area is in rural health as an ICU Nurse in Bismarck, ND and functioning as a Paramedic/EMT for an ambulance crew serving part of the Fort Berthold Native American Reservation


Jason Saucier, MSN, AGACNP-BC

Philadelphia, PA
Track: Health Services Research
Faculty Adviser: Dr. Lorraine Mion 

jason saucier

I currently live in Philadelphia, PA but I grew up in Fort Kent, ME, which will always feel like home. I currently work as a Critical Care Nurse Practitioner for Trauma & Surgical Critical Care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

I draw from my experiences as a front-line provider in the intensive care unit, both as a staff nurse and as a nurse practitioner to illuminate areas our health care system can improve upon. Enhancing health care delivery and distribution both have variables and phenomenon not well understood or have yet to be discovered. I'd like to play a role in re-distributing our finite resources and improve the system's ability to provide these resources to the right patient.

What initially prompted me to investigate the Vanderbilt PhD is the unique delivery format they've constructed paired with a track record for success. This format allows me to continue to work--where I am regularly reminded of why my research is so important. After completing our first intensive session, it was obvious how dedicated the PhD faculty members are to our success and despite being in a different time zone, I feel connected and supported to the Vanderbilt community. I plan to investigate health service delivery within vulnerable populations as well as quality improvement research in acute care.

I hope to delve into geriatrics and improve upon the delivery of their acute hospitalizations.