Simmons Faculty Member Tanya Cohn Aims to Mentor and Empower Her Graduate Nursing Students

One faculty member’s quest to empower nurses enrolled in the Nursing@Simmons Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program centers around encouraging students to explore different approaches to care, from data-driven decision-making to the more human aspect of their work. Tanya Cohn, PhD, MEd, RN, knows firsthand that becoming the best in your field requires a deep understanding of the high-tech tools available for research and care.

What is your background?

I am a second-career nurse, having earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in statistics and multimedia communication.

I pursued my Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with Simmons’ on-campus, direct-entry MSN program with the support of a wonderful mentor. While earning my Master of Science in Nursing, I worked in a step down unit surgical and trauma unit and really enjoyed caring for patients.

After earning my MSN and moving to Florida, I started working at a surgical trauma intensive care unit where I noticed a disconnect between the rich evidence that nurses gather hourly and their ability to use that information to improve procedures and streamline processes. Wanting to explore evidence-based practice further, I took a job as a research nurse for another organization. I began to see how research helps nurses improve the health care landscape and develop their own voices as providers.

Next, I pursued a PhD and found myself at a Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences alumni presentation, where I learned that the school was developing an online nursing program. That’s when I knew I wanted to give back and take my firsthand experience of implementing evidence-based practice to the classroom.

Why Simmons?

I was excited to hear about Simmons offering its nursing programs online because it can be hard to find a quality online program that prepares students to become Nurse Practitioners. I was astonished to hear about the live online sessions and that students could engage with both Simmons’ content and faculty online. I wanted to be a part of that.

Why should students earn a DNP from Simmons?

I would encourage students to pick a program that challenges them and develops their leadership abilities. This is what Simmons does best, by involving students in rigorous research, scholarly activity, and clinical practice.

This integration of scholarship and clinical care gives students a key skill. They are able to understand diagnoses based on evidence even if they have never cared for someone in the particular population to which a patient belongs.

I have found that recently graduated nurses can sometimes struggle to provide the best care for their patients because they don’t have a foundational understanding of the value of evidence-based care. Evidence is so important for nurses to understand, even if they are not going to do research, because in the real world, everything is based on evidence. Nurses have to be able to have important conversations with patients that are informed by real data and observation; they have to be able to think critically using evidence.

What Nursing@Simmons courses have you been involved with?

I co-developed NURP 640: Advanced Research Methods and developed NURP 655: Biostatistics for the Nursing@Simmons DNP program. I also teach NURP 410: Research Methods for the Nursing@Simmons FNP program.

How does NURP 640: Advanced Research Methods specifically prepare students for a DNP role?

This course is research based and exposes students to the most commonly used designs in nursing practice and DNP projects, helping them cultivate a better understanding of the best approach to any particular question that arises in the clinic. Through the course content and the DNP project, students will learn to think through different lenses and approaches to care.

Can you tell us about how NURP 655: Biostatistics specifically prepares students for a DNP role?

Statistics drives evaluation of data and, in turn, data is the foundation of evidence-based practice. By understanding the outcomes through statistical analysis, DNP-prepared nurses are better able to translate evidence into practice. Being able to understand and critically appraise those measures and values is crucial to providing well-informed care.

NURP 655 introduces students to commonly used statistical significance and clinical significance. As future nursing leaders, they need to be able to write, interpret, and disseminate findings in both academic settings and in clinical practice.

If there is one piece of advice you would give to prospective students considering earning their DNP, what would it be?

Nursing is a profession. It’s a career, not a job, and any person in a profession can expect to become a lifelong learner. If you are going to continue to evolve as a care provider, you will need to take action. Continuing your education will refine your skills, grow your network, build your career, improve the care you give, and strengthen the voice you have. More doors will open for you as you develop yourself.


For nurses looking to grow their careers, the Nursing@Simmons DNP program offers an innovative approach to online learning and a rich blend of courses in research, statistics, bioethics, and more. But it’s not just academic: The program’s focus on becoming a health care leader who uses research to improve outcomes in real-world clinical settings sets Simmons DNP students apart.

Citation for this content: Nursing@Simmons, the online DNP program from the Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences