University of Mobile Nursing Dissertation Leads to Grant for Underserved Community

Zac Douglas News, Nursing, UM Grad Success

MOBILE, Ala. –Danielle Hughes started working as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Lac Courte Oreilles Health Center in Hayward, Wisconsin in June 2020. She saw the lack of access to care, lack of resources, and need for increased health literacy in the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

While completing her online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of Mobile, Hughes collaborated with her leadership team and the Lac Courte Oreilles grant writer to secure a grant totaling $500,000 over the next three years. This grant will aid in facilitating a comprehensive, culturally appropriate public health service for the Native Community for which she serves and where she lives.

The $500,000 grant from Indian Health Services aims to decrease the impact of opioid addiction in the community and enable primary and behavioral health care providers to offer early and multiple types of interventions.

Hughes received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Mobile over 20 years ago. She earned her Master of Business Administration in 2008 from Texas Woman’s University and Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner from the University of Mobile in 2019. She will be a member of the first graduating class from the Christian university’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program on May 8, 2021. In addition to receiving her DNP, she was awarded the Academic Achievement Award for the School of Nursing. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is offered as an online program with three on-campus intensives interspersed throughout the curriculum. The university will also graduate its first doctoral students in the Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal performance at the May 8 ceremony.

“It is an absolute honor to be in the first graduating class of DNP students at UM. It is so important as a minority student and Christian to push yourself, with the support of God and family, to the highest level possible. The environment provided by the nursing faculty is so supportive and conducive to learning. I believe that was a key factor to my success in this program,” said Hughes.

Dr. Sarah Barnes-Witherspoon, dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Mobile, said, “I am so proud, honored and humbled by Danielle. The Lord’s hand is on the University of Mobile to enable her to receive this grant to help an underserved population. She will be dynamic in delivering the healthcare needs to the tribe, and it’s amazing that she was able to secure this grant through her research done at UM.”

Hughes lived in the diverse, metropolitan area of Houston, Texas, but her passion to help more rural underserved communities receive the care they deserve led her to Lac Courte Oreilles Health Center.

For UM’s DNP program, Hughes wrote her dissertation on “Evidence-Based Approach to Advancing Integration within Primary Care.” Her research laid the groundwork for the grant proposal.

“My dissertation for the University of Mobile and the grant application went hand in hand. This grant will bring in the funding to support both physical health and behavioral health for opioid abuse,” she said.

“First, the tribe that I work for connects with nature, so we’re now able to reach out the community from an early age to discourage opioid use in children by bringing them closer to their culture and beliefs.

“Second, were able to increase the number of providers at the clinic to directly work with adults in the community that have opioid use disorder and give them the treatment they need.

“Third, it will decrease the number of patients who are inadvertently incarcerated for behavioral health reasons like anxiety or depression. They’re trying to numb pain by using illicit drugs, so we’re working to connect with the community and send out more counselors and social workers to bring reform,” said Hughes.

The University of Mobile offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice BSN to DNP Nurse Practitioner program as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice Post-Master’s program. In the fall semester of 2021, the University of Mobile will begin offering the first and only Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice program in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia.

“Our first graduating class of Doctor of Nursing Practice speaks volumes about the University of Mobile. We have such a dynamic group of students that will go on to make a difference in the world. The new Doctor of Nursing Anesthesia Practice helps put us on the map worldwide. We are the only local program in the area, and it will be very monumental to the School of Nursing and for future graduates,” said Witherspoon.

On May 8, 2021, the first Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates from the University of Mobile will walk across the stage.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice students and their dissertations are:

Wendy Clark, Thomasville, Ala. – Evaluation of The Palliative Care Screening Tool

Danielle Hughes, Houston, Texas – Evidence-Based Approach to Advancing Integration in Primary Care

Paula Matthews, Mobile, Ala. – Burnout to Bedside: Evaluation of a Partners in Care Model

Terri Moore, Citronelle, Ala. – Decreasing Patient Falls in Medical-Surgical Patients by Providing an Assistive Device

Sallyanna Silveria, St. Stephens, Ala. – Managing Newly Diagnosed Hypertension with Lifestyle Modifications

Anganatte Williams, Prichard, Ala. – Decreasing the Rate of Return to Hospital in Skilled Nursing Facility Within 30-Days

For more information on the University of Mobile’s Doctor of Nursing Practice and Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice programs, please visit umobile.edu/nursing.


About the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.

For more information about the University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.edu or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.

About the Author

Zac Douglas

Zac Douglas is the marketing communications specialist for the University of Mobile. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in integrated marketing and communications. As marketing communications specialist, Zac is responsible for writing and strategizing content about the university, assisting with media relations, and handling other marketing and communications projects. He is an active member at Cottage Hill Baptist Church and enjoys spending his time surfing, skating and climbing.