Ready for the Future of Nursing

The health care profession is changing every day. Alverno’s growing nursing programs, including two new nurse practitioner tracks, ensure that health care providers are ready for tomorrow, today.

Alverno’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program now includes these new options for students: a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner track and a Dual Adult-Gerontology Primary and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track.

Both of these courses of study, open to women and men, are the first of their kind in Wisconsin. What’s more, they represent a new opportunity to carry out Alverno’s strategic priority of supporting workforce development in the state and expanding access to affordable and quality health care.

“We are concretely addressing gaps in health care delivery for the people of Wisconsin, especially the most vulnerable among us. This is essential work,” says Patricia Varga, PhD, RN, CNE, dean of the Alverno College JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing and Health Professions.

Nurses who enroll in the Dual Adult-Gerontology Primary and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program will be prepared to care for adults of all ages in a variety of settings, including hospitals, primary care clinics and specialty clinics.

“Dual certification expands the advanced practice nurse’s scope of practice and increases employability,” says Laurie Kunkel-Jordan ’00, PhD, ANP-BC, CCRN, co-chair of the program. “Graduates of our new dual track will be eligible to apply for national certification as both an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner and an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, as well as state-sanctioned prescriptive authority.”

Kunkel-Jordan and co-chair Sarah Foster, DNP, APNP, AGACNP-BC, FNP-BC, NP-C, say this dual certification will prove especially valuable as the health care profession more strictly enforces practice role limitations. That is, health systems and accrediting bodies want to ensure that advanced practice nurses are providing health care for patients and populations in the ways in which they were educated and trained to do.

The Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) program, which will be mostly offered online, will prepare advanced practice nurses to care for premature and full-term babies and children up to 2 years old, primarily in hospital settings.

“Everybody wants NNPs. There’s a shortage of resident coverage in some states and neonatologists in some states. They’re looking for NNPs to fill that gap,” says Media Esser ’03, PhD, NNP-BC, APNP, CWN, chair of Alverno’s program.

Alverno’s advanced practice nursing tracks allow a student to earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree in a practice specialty, or to pursue the specialty as a post-master’s certificate.

The two new advanced practice nursing tracks join Alverno’s existing offerings: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner.

To learn more, visit or contact the Alverno Admissions team at 414-382-6100 or


The World Health Organization has declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Throughout the year, Alverno will be celebrating our exceptional health care providers — past, present and future. Is there an Alverno nursing student, alum or faculty member you’d like us to feature? Please email your nomination to


Lexi Klatt works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in Waukesha Memorial Hospital’s labor and delivery unit while pursuing her nursing degree. A typical shift includes assisting with a delivery, serving as a lactation consultant and, perhaps the best part, being “cuddled up in the nursery with a sleepy baby.”

Babies, of course, are not deterred by a global pandemic, so while Klatt’s day-to-day work covers the same tasks, there are new rules and procedures to navigate.

“When we arrive to work, we get screened for symptoms and have our temperature taken,” she says. “Before leaving the locker room, we have to make sure we are wearing a mask and a face shield.”

Visitor restrictions have been imposed to protect the health of mothers, babies and hospital employees. Klatt recounts how one postpartum mother was readmitted with high blood pressure, but her one-week-old baby — whom she was breastfeeding — and her husband could not enter.

“I took formula to her husband and spent 30 minutes with him outside teaching him all there is to know about formula feeding a baby and reassuring him that he, alone, could do it without his wife, and to call us with any questions,” Klatt says. “I just wanted him to know that we all understand it’s a difficult time, but we are here to help.”


Neena Montijo has always loved giving back. That’s why she wants to become a nurse.

“I chose nursing because I knew I wanted to do something that helped people and shared my passion for science,” she says. “It was the perfect fit.”

Montijo’s natural generosity is also what drove her to step up to serve as a peer tutor for multiple nursing courses and a biology course — all while managing her own classes, a clinical placement and working off campus.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to aid in the education of others,” she says. “It’s expanded my desire to get a master’s after I get my bachelor’s degree. I’m really interested in the educational aspect and in sharing what I know and what I can do.”

This article appears in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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