Edinboro assistant professor of nursing brings new degree and knowledge to university campus

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 28th, 2018 at 7:20 PM

Dr. Jill Rodgers, an assistant nursing professor at Edinboro University, has been educating herself and others for years. She has a vast background and multiple certifications in the field, including: Doctor of Nurse Practice (DNP), Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP), Family Nurse Practitioner board certified (FNP-BC), and her most recent advancement, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). 

Rodgers started her nursing career after graduating from Thiel College and spent 10 years working as a registered nurse in various locations. She then decided to go back to school to get a master’s degree in nursing administration from Indiana University and, after about a year, got her post-master’s certificate as a family nurse practitioner. 

After this, Rodgers got into the teaching side of nursing and started at Carlow University. She finished graduate school there and worked as a graduate assistant at Carlow to help pay for her doctoral program. “I got my doctorate from Carlow and that’s where I ended up working for about five years. I was an assistant professor of graduate nursing down there, and I taught in the family nurse practitioner program,” explained Rodgers.

During her time at Carlow, she found an open position at Edinboro and decided to apply. At Edinboro, she would be able to develop classes for the doctoral program, which is what made her excited to teach at the university. 

“I thought the campus was just beautiful, so when I arrived I loved it…I had the interview and I loved the people that interviewed me, so I decided to make the change.”

Now at the ‘Boro, Rodgers works in the graduate program and thinks the students are wonderful. “I am learning things from them all the time. As a nurse there’s always new things coming up. There are always new evidence-based practices that you should follow for nursing,” she said. 

Rodgers also talked about her coworkers and said that they are very knowledgeable. “Where one of us is weak, the other is strong, and we have a good team that way.”

Rodgers’ most recent certification, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, PMHNP, was through an accelerated certificate program from John Hopkins University and took 12 months to complete. She recalled that this program was very concentrated with a lot of work. John Hopkins has one of the highest rated programs in this area, according to U.S. News.

This certification will now result in the possibility of future graduate programs in mental health from the nursing department, explained Rodgers. She will also be able to assist students with their projects on mental health. Dr. Sue Maloney, assistant professor at EU, is also currently completing a similar program, which means there will be two faculty members with mental health backgrounds. 

“[Mental illness is] hard to talk about, there’s still some stigma with it, [and] we don’t talk about it the way we talk about other chronic illnesses – which we should. There’s a high percentage of the population that needs the service,” said Rodgers. She also explained that the integration of family practitioners and mental health specialists is important, and she feels that if there was a mental health specialist right in your family care, more people would take advantage of it. 

“There’s a huge need out there. It’s not just Pennsylvania, it’s country wide. We’re [nurses] taking care of a lot of mental health patients in primary care. And if their care is complex, there’s not a lot of providers to refer them to, so even having that knowledge in primary care is very helpful,” said Rodgers. 

When talking about her research at John Hopkins, Rodgers described a paper she did on chronic pain and depression, and the co-morbid conditions that affect each other. The statistic she used was that those who are depressed for a long time are 80 percent more likely to experience chronic pain and vice versa. “If you’re having pain all the time it would make you depressed, or if you’re depressed all the time it could give you pain in your body,” said Rodgers. Later she stated, “If someone breaks their arm, you can see the cast.”

When asked about any words of wisdom for students wishing to pursue a similar program, Rodgers said: “I would encourage them to look around at programs that best fit their needs and the focus of the program. It’s just like anything else. You need to weigh the cost of the program and the reputation and all of those things, but it’s a great field. There are plenty of positions out there for psychiatric nurse practitioners; they are very sought after.” 

She also explained that there are programs out there that clearly focus on just mental health, like psychiatric nurse practitioner. This would be a graduate level at minimum and would follow their graduation and licensing as an RN.

When she’s not teaching, Rodgers enjoys riding her bike, walking in the woods, kayaking or doing anything outside. “I’m always outside,” she said. Rodgers used to have two horses and currently has two dogs: a golden retriever named Angel and a Bichon poodle mix named Gunner. Her family lives in a rural area in Mercer and she has three children with her husband: Madison, 19, Will, 17, Johnny, 15. 

“I think it’s a great career and I love nursing, and honestly I can’t even imagine how I was so fortunate that I would get into the career that I [can] love for my whole life,” said Rodgers, who then joked, “I’ll probably never retire.”

Sam Schaupp can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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