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As Program Director for the Graduate Nursing Programs at South University, Online Programs, Donna Faye McHaney, DNP, RN, APRN, FNP-BC, brings to the table an impressive blend of professional experience and expertise in nursing, information technology and education.

Although nursing education is now her primary focus, Dr. McHaney’s career began in computer science, where she worked as a programmer, a systems engineer and other related roles for over 20 years.

“In the computer field, there was a lot of buzzing going on about healthcare moving into the technology arena and electronic medical records. We weren’t quite at that tipping point where healthcare was ready to move over to that, but that’s what I kept hearing,” says Dr. McHaney. Looking to find her niche in the industry, she decided to pursue a degree in nursing.

Once in school, she quickly realized that she wanted nursing to be her primary focus. She explains, “I really, really enjoyed taking care of patients and being at the bedside. That was the direction I wanted to move in.”

After gaining experience as a nurse in hospitals and clinics, Dr. McHaney went on to earn her master’s degree, become a family nurse practitioner, and eventually earn her doctorate degree. At one time, Dr. McHaney owned and operated three facilities that specialized in alcohol and drug addiction recovery for adult females and provided transitional living while they reentered the workforce.

“Making that transition from a nurse to a nurse practitioner, being able to bring the experience I had gained as a nurse and what I already knew to the table really helped me in my practice,” she says.

In 2003, Dr. McHaney accepted her first position as a nurse educator, and, just like when she started her career as a nurse, being in education felt right to her.

Over the years, she provided didactic and clinical instruction at several universities and served as a consultant and national subject matter expert in program, curriculum and assessment review and development. She has also written or contributed to five book chapters and spoken at numerous professional and community meetings and workshops.

In 2013, Dr. McHaney joined South University, Online Programs as an adjunct faculty member and began her current role as Graduate Nursing Programs Director in 2014.

Throughout her career, Dr. McHaney found ways to continue merging her interest in technology and nursing. “Even as a nurse on the floor, I worked in a lot of information systems departments for many years developing software for hospitals,” she says, adding, “I still do a little bit of consulting on the side every now and then. I still teach nursing informatics a lot. It’s just something I like to do.”

For any nurses considering an advanced nursing degree, she encourages them to also find a way to pursue their special interests. She advises, “Research the area you want to go in, find what suits your expertise, and then go for it. It’s a positive thing for the medical community and for the country to have more advanced practice nurses, more nurse educators, more of all these areas. That’s what we need.”

Hear more from Dr. McHaney in a complimentary CE course: Dr. McHaney is sharing her knowledge as part of the Healthy Communications continuing education course and webinar series, co-sponsored by South University and available at no cost to you. The series covers topics such as rounding, hand-off communication, discharge education, nurse bullying, and interprofessional collaboration. Register today!