Interview with Kari Wade, Ed.D., MSN, RN, CNE - Program Coordinator for the Online Ed.D. Programs at Nebraska Methodist College

About Kari Wade, Ed.D., MSN, RN, CNE: Kari Wade is the Co-Founder of Nebraska Methodist College’s Online Ed.D. in Education and Leadership in Healthcare. She also serves as Coordinator of the program, wherein she oversees student recruitment, admissions, and advising, and also manages updates and additions to the program’s curriculum. In addition, she teaches courses in the program as an Associate Professor of Doctoral Studies.

In addition to her role in higher education, Dr. Wade is an active leader of the Nebraska Nurses Association and will serve as President of the organization from 2020-2022. She completed her doctoral studies at Michigan State University and the College of Saint Mary, graduating with a Doctor of Education with an emphasis in Health Care Education in 2011. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Nebraska Wesleyan College in 2006, and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Creighton University in 2004.

Interview Questions

[] May we have an overview of Nebraska Methodist College’s Online Ed.D. in Education & Leadership in Healthcare? What are the key learning outcomes for this program, and how does it prepare students for a wide variety of roles in healthcare education and organizational leadership? What inspired the development of this unique program, and how does it meet the growing need for healthcare leadership?

[Dr. Wade] Nebraska Methodist College’s (NMC) Online Ed.D. in Education & Leadership in Healthcare is designed to prepare leaders in identifying and solving complex problems in education and healthcare with an emphasis on developing thoughtful and reflective practitioners prepared to meet the health and education issues faced in the 21st century. This program was designed to view education as a professional practice degree. The innovators who conceptualized this program came from varied backgrounds, with one having a Ph.D., another a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and an Ed.D. Through this collaboration, a unique and innovative curriculum was born.

Ed.D. courses are designed around the outcomes of the program and focus on areas of leadership, system performance, quality improvement, professional development, curriculum and program design, teaching, evaluation, and sustainability.

One unique feature of the doctoral programs at NMC is the scholarly doctoral capstone project. Many students are not familiar with a doctoral capstone project and how it differs from the more traditional doctoral dissertation. The difference is the type of research being conducted. While a dissertation is original research with a goal to generate new knowledge, the doctoral capstone is translational research, which ‘translates’ the research into practice through quality improvement or evidence-based practice initiatives. The capstone experience spans across 13 months in the final year of a student’s curriculum.

Ideal students for the Ed.D. program include master’s prepared professionals with a connection to healthcare and education. The program has enrolled health professionals and leaders from a variety of disciplines, as well as educators from both primary and secondary education. Our student population has tremendous personal and professional diversity, allowing for engaging and stimulating dialogue within the online environment.

[] Nebraska Methodist College also offers an Online Ed.D. in Public Health Policy. May we have an overview of this new program, and its curriculum structure and content?

[Dr. Wade] The Doctor of Education, with a focus on Public Health Policy, was designed to develop leaders who can influence change through population and public health initiatives and health policy. This program advances the skillset for graduates to be change agents that positively influence public health, program development, and higher education at a systems level.

The Ed.D. in Public Health Policy is a study in leadership and program planning to address public health issues and population health issues. Combining public health and health policy, the curriculum focuses on translating research and evidence-based practice in communities. The Public Health Policy track in the Ed.D. program will provide graduates with the skill set to advocate in a policy arena at local, state, regional or national level.

[] Could you please elaborate on the online learning technologies that Nebraska Methodist College’s online Ed.D. programs use to deliver course materials and facilitate interactions between students and faculty?

[Dr. Wade] Nebraska Methodist College utilizes Brightspace, a Desire 2 Learn online learning platform. The program uses a combination of asynchronous and synchronous learning. Synchronous learning is accomplished through on-campus intensives and synchronous classes using online meeting programs such as Webex.

Multiple resources are available for student support, including the John Moritz online library with a variety of databases for students to access. Other online resources available to students to facilitate success in the program include Net Tutor, Turnitin, Zotero, and Google Drive. Students have ready access to faculty through email and phone.

[] Nebraska Methodist College’s online Ed.D. tracks require the completion of a Capstone Project. What does this Project involve, what process do students take to complete it, and what kinds of faculty/peer support do they receive during their work?

[Dr. Wade] Doctoral programs at Nebraska Methodist College are viewed as applied practice doctorates. Students in the Doctor of Education and Leadership in Healthcare (Ed.D.) program are learning to be effective leaders and change agents in healthcare, academic, and community settings.

The scholarly capstone project experience provides students an opportunity to serve in this role through project completion. The project allows students to identify a gap or problem in practice, review resources and research regarding best practices related to the issue, implement evidence-based change to address the issue, and evaluate the effectiveness of the change.

Upon project completion, students disseminate the project through formal presentation or publication. Ideally, change initiated from scholarly doctoral projects should be sustained and duplicated to facilitate continued quality improvement and best practices across practice settings.

Capstone projects are often completed in areas where students currently work or in areas where students feel particularly passionate about a change. Students’ projects have improved system processes thus saving organizations thousands of dollars; implemented population health initiatives to promote the health and well-being of a community; and developed educational programs to more effectively engage learners in the educational process. Capstones are completed in collaboration with a community or organization partner to sustain the practice change.

Faculty support and guidance during the capstone process is a priority. The faculty-student ratio for the capstone project is 1 faculty to every 4-5 students. The same faculty member stays with the student throughout the entire 13 months of the project, from concept to dissemination. Additional reviews by a Doctoral Committee and Institutional Review Board (IRB) at NMC, as well as outside organization IRB as applicable, ensure projects are designed to meet the rigor and ethical standards for a doctoral project.

[] What role does faculty mentorship play in Nebraska Methodist College’s online Ed.D. programs? How can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems while they are enrolled?

[Dr. Wade] Online students are supported through student services and program faculty. Student support services include assistance in academic success through academic coaching. Student health services are available locally and when students are on campus for program intensives.

Additionally, students have access to a 24/7 student assistance program (SAP) through our health system and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that is free of charge to students and their family members. No matter where students are located, SAP resources are made available to them in their community.

[] For students interested in Nebraska Methodist College’s Online Ed.D. in Education & Leadership in Healthcare or the Online Ed.D. in Public Health Policy, what advice do you have in terms of submitting a competitive application?

[Dr. Wade] Entry into the Ed.D. programs at Nebraska Methodist College is competitive. Applicants are scored objectively through use of a rubric. Components scored on the rubric include graduate-level grade point average, a written essay, and interview with two Ed.D. faculty. Highest scores for the essay result from a well-organized, comprehensive yet succinct response to the question prompts.

The applicant’s writing should leave a strong positive impression. Proper grammar, citation and use of references is expected. Prospective student interviews include a set of questions that address career goals, leadership and change skillsets, and program expectations. Time is allotted for students to have their questions about the program answered.

[] What makes Nebraska Methodist College’s online Ed.D. programs unique and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students? How does this program prepare students for advanced careers in strategic organizational leadership, change management, and educational leadership across a wide variety of healthcare settings?

[Dr. Wade] The Ed.D. program at Nebraska Methodist College has garnered consistent praise and satisfaction from students. Through formative and summative evaluation, 100% of past students have indicated they would recommend the program to others. Retention rates for the program are exceedingly high, which is evidence of the faculty connection to and support of students in the program.

In addition, student capstone projects from NMC are making a difference in healthcare, academia and the community across the United States. Graduates of the program have continued relationships with faculty and peers beyond graduation, forming a nationwide connection of doctorally prepared professionals across diverse settings.

Thank you, Dr. Kari Wade, for your excellent insight into Nebraska Methodist College’s online Ed.D. programs!