Local Medical Professional Katie Durden, is off to Vanderbilt for Fellowship



Local Katie Durden, a recent graduate of Augusta University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program, will be moving to Murfreesboro, Tennessee just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, in May of 2022 as a recipient of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) HRSA-funded Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Residency program. The purpose of the project is to prepare advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to work in rural and underserved communities. Dr. Durden applied for the fellowship while still attending Augusta University’s DNP school of study.

The Augusta University doctoral-level education provides nurses the clinical and management expertise to improve health care outcomes, making them expert collaborators in solving health care problems in systems. Graduates of the DNP program are eligible to seek the following professional state licenses or certifications: Certification as an APRN [Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (depending on program completion)] and licensure as an APRN.

The DNP-PMHNP concentration prepares advanced practice nurses to provide psychiatric and mental health care to clients, families, and communities. Coursework emphasizes the care of adult, pediatric, and geriatric patients, and their families. The doctoral-level education provides the clinical and management expertise to improve health care outcomes.

This past June, Dr. Durden passed the American Nurses Credential Certification board exam, obtaining the credential of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She is also presently licensed as a Registered Nurse and certified as a PMHNP in both states of Georgia and Tennessee.

The Fellowship at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing offered Durden a position after she participated in an application and reference process. After being selected as one of the finalists, Dr. Durden was given an opportunity to advance to the interview process. She was offered a fellowship with a HRSA-funded Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Residency (NPR) program.

The program's purpose is to increase the APRN primary care workforce in rural and underserved communities through collaboration with partner community-based health clinics. It will also provide funding and support for seven fellows (6 FNPs/AGPCNPs and 1 PMHNP) each year.

“I am very honored to be selected for one of the 7 fellow positions, but extremely grateful to have received the one PMHNP position.” Dr. Durden stated while adding that she has already visited her placement site and feels very welcomed and at home.

Dr. Durden was able to demonstrate a strong desire to work with rural and urban underserved populations. With her years of work with CarePartners of Georgia and Emanuel Medical Center she has demonstrated a commitment to her community. She also completed a practicum in Wrightsville, Georgia while attending Augusta University with a Federally Funded Health Center in which she conducted and completed a study implementing the need for healthcare workers to understand the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma in overall health outcomes.

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing screens applicants and recommends candidates for interview; The second part of the process is the interview of the applicant and then the CBHCs hires the chosen colleague as a full-time employee for their organization. CBHC Fellows complete a structured 12-month residency program with guidance from a clinical mentor at the CBHC. The program includes continuing education tailored to post-graduate NPs in rural practice, monthly group debrief conferences, and ongoing coaching and support from VUSN faculty. CBHC Fellows receive additional psych/mental health content and gain valuable experience applying this knowledge through integrated behavioral health care in their CBHC site. CBHC Fellows and their CBHC have access to consults with behavioral health experts via telehealth.

The Fellows agree to 12 months of full-time employment at the CBHC. Participation in the additional didactic and focused experiences involving social determinants of health, psychopharmacology, and telehealth in the context of a rural or medically underserved clinic is required. Katie stated, “I am really excited to be exposed to this type of medical facility and care. I feel it will help me grow professionally and be a more diverse healthcare provider.”

Dr. Durden’s fellow placement is with Primary Care & Hope Clinic in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the 2022-2023 CBHC Fellowship. The fellowship is funded through the Health Resources and Service Administration and the Advanced Nursing Education-Nursing Practice Resident Program grant. Her role as a PMHNP fellow at the Primary Care & Hope Clinic will include being responsible for providing direct patient psychiatric care (assessment, evaluation, medication management, and counseling). She will be providing telehealth consultations and patient encounters. She will also be actively participating in ongoing quality improvement and regular conferences and meetings as prescribed by the ANE-NPR grant. Dr. Durden will also engage in collaboration and weekly reflective supervision with the PMHNP mentor. The staff at the Primary Care & Hope Clinic in Murfreesboro, which has a population of over 150,000,00 residents, has already told Katie if she begins to get home sick, they have clinics 30 to 60 miles out in “more farm like country” and she can go provide face to face services whenever she wants. She is excited to work with such a welcoming staff.

Vanderbilt University is a private institution that was founded in 1873. Vanderbilt University's ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges and National Universities is number #14. Vanderbilt University offers a wide range of student activities and is in Nashville, TN. When asked what her reaction was to receiving the news that she got in, Katie stated, “I just decided to put in an application because I thought a change could be good. I never thought I would get it because it is so competitive. However, when I did, I knew that it was what path I was supposed to be on at this time in my life. I am very excited. I am eager to meet new people, but also excited that all my friends and family are thrilled to come to visit often since I am so close to Nashville—a place they all love." She also added, “I am also blessed that I will be able to practice in both the state of Georgia and Tennessee over the next 12 months. I will continue to be an employee at Emanuel Medical Center with the Behavioral Health Unit as well as an out of state member of the Swainsboro Country Club and I will be flying into Savannah for Georgia Southern University games when I can.” Katie ended by saying, “I am just grateful and excited about the learning opportunity before me.”

Dr. Katie Durden is the daughter of Jesse A. and Kathy Durden of Metter, Georgia. The granddaughter of Joyce Durden and the late Jesse A. Durden, Sr. of Metter. The granddaughter of the late Kenneth and Juanita Riddleberger of Swainsboro, Georgia.

Dr. Katie Durden is a proud graduate of Metter High School and Georgia Southern University.


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