Tennessee Alumnus

One and Only

One and Only

The College of Nursing at the UT Health Science Center prides itself on being a change agent in nursing education, and sometimes it’s one student at a time that helps build that reputation. Dr. Mayola Rowser was that kind of student.

Rowser received her Ph.D. in nursing last December–three years after she earned her doctorate in nursing practice (DNP). That makes her the only known nurse in the world to hold both degrees.

“Dr. Mayola Rowser has amazed us all,” says Dr. Kathleen McCoy, assistant professor in the College of Nursing. “She has become exactly what she intended: a fully developed integrative advanced practice registered nurse, teacher, leader, grant writer, researcher, advocate for the underserved, and policy influencer.”

In the DNP program, Rowser achieved dual preparation as a family nurse practitioner and a psychiatric family nurse practitioner.

“Her blend of expertise opens doors to areas of care in very special ways; this is what her DNP gained,” McCoy says. “Her Ph.D. furthered her skill set to apply nursing process and scientific reasoning, obtain the support for research and program development, while affecting politics.

“She can work in any setting with any set of patients and optimize their health because of her clinical and intellectual mastery. The faculty and students of the College of Nursing are proud to claim her as our own.”

Rowser is reaping the benefits of her advanced degrees at the University of Southern Indiana School of Nursing and Health Professions, where she was promoted to director of graduate nursing after earning her Ph.D. She achieved the rank of assistant professor after completing her DNP.  With a 28-year nursing career, Rowser’s focus is in psychiatric/mental health nursing.

“Mayola recognized that her educational and clinical preparation was not enough to meet the complex needs of the underserved, which is Mayola’s passion,” says Dr. Patricia Cunningham, associate professor in the College of Nursing. “Mayola’s DNP capstone project highlighted for her the need to pursue the research doctorate, too.”

“As I progressed through the DNP program, I realized that I had an interest in research as well,” Rowser says. “I understood the advantage that having both degrees would afford me as a practitioner and a researcher.”

The mother of two sons, Rowser received her BSN and MSN degrees from the University of Southern Indiana and began her doctoral studies at UTHSC in 2002, balancing work, school, and family life. Successfully defending her dissertation last year, Rowser studied the “Predictors of Depressive Symptoms and Obesity in African-American Women Transitioning from Welfare to Work.”