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Mother and Daughter, Both Nurses, Pursue Doctoral Degrees Together

Thursday, May 12, 2011
If Frances Herman has trouble with her homework, she knows exactly who she can turn to for help -- her daughter.

Herman is wrapping up her second year in the doctor of nursing practice program at Robert Morris University. Her daughter, Anne Marie Storbrauck, graduated from the program on May 6, one year ahead of her mother.

 "Pursuing a doctoral degree along with my daughter has been a great experience. It has been awhile since I've been back to school, and I have been able to bounce ideas off Ann Marie. I ask her things like, 'Is this what the professor is looking for?” says Herman.

Storbrauck heard about Robert Morris’s DNP program from her co-workers at Bravo Health, where she is a clinical manager who supervises nurse practitioners in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.

She liked the program's flexibility and its executive format: courses include a five-day classroom experience once per semester, with other courses completed online. Storbrauck, in turn, recommended the program to her mother.

"I had been considering pursuing a doctoral degree for a few years. RMU's program really fit in with working full-time and going to school full-time. The instructors have always been helpful and supportive," says Herman, a nurse practitioner specializing in cardiology at a Trenton, N.J, hospital.
Storbrauck earned her bachelor’s and master’s nurse practitioner degrees at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Herman earned her bachelor’s and first master’s degree in clinical care nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She went back to school for her second master’s degree in nurse practitioner from Hahnemann University Hospital. "My mom has always had a love for education, and even now, she is still leading by example. I have learned to appreciate my nursing education as I journey through my doctoral studies. By helping my mother with her studies, I realize that she is a real inspiration to me. We're very lucky that we have each other and that we have been able to share this experience together," says Storbrauck.

Storbrauck is one of 67 nurse practitioners who graduated from the DNP program this year. Her doctoral capstone project is an educational program about heart failure management in long-term care. Through her research, she found that nurse practitioners often were not aware of the evidence based clinical practice guidelines for heart failure management, and heart failure is a frequent cause of hospitalization in their long term care patients. Herman is writing her doctoral capstone project on the education of nurses in the hospitals on the core measures, which are a standardized set of discharge procedures that assist patients and family members on what to do when the patients leave the hospital.

“(Ann Marie) helps me to improve my research. In the past, I've helped my daughter and now it's a role reversal: She's helped me and been a mentor to me through my doctoral studies," says Herman.