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Dr. Debra Craighead

Dr. Debra Craighead

Associate Professor, CNL Track Leader

“Give it a try! Online learning is great for students who are self-directed and focused and most nurses are. Today is a great day to begin pursuing your educational and career goals; we are here to help you achieve them.”


Degrees Held:

  • Ph.D. in Nursing – The University of Texas at Tyler, 2012
  • MSN – Northwestern State University, 1993
  • BSN – Northwestern State University, 1983

Career Highlights:

  • Visiting Pediatric nursing faculty:
  • Bangalore Baptist Hospital and Rebekah A. Naylor School of Nursing, Bangalore, India (June – July 2018)
  • KDSNUR Gaye Eason Dean Endowed Professorship 2018-2021
  • Quality Matters Teaching Online Certificate 2017
  • Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses 2012 Novice Researcher Award for study entitled Early term infant care: Hospital utilization and breastfeeding practices

In which online program do you teach?

Master of Science in Nursing – Gerontologic Clinical Nurse Leader

Which classes do you teach online?

  • NURS 5003: Health Policy and Global Health
  • NURS 5012: Advanced Physical Assessment for the CNL
  • NURS 5002: Research I: Evidence-Based Practice
  • NURS 5010: Research II: Utilizing Research in Practice

What do students learn in your classes? What is the expected outcome?

In the courses I teach, students learn how to search for best evidence to use in practice and how to influence health policy. They also learn how to be a global health leader and advance their assessment skills. All of these skills can be used to improve patient outcomes, cut healthcare costs, and improve satisfaction with care.

Why did you start teaching?

I started teaching in 1993 when I finished graduate school (MSN). I love to learn and I love to interact with students. In nursing, there is so much to learn about. I love to teach students how to create positive changes in the healthcare setting.

What advice would you give to those considering the online MSN - Gerontologic Clinical Nurse Leader program?

Give it a try! Online learning is great for students who are self-directed and focused and most nurses are. Today is a great day to begin pursuing your educational and career goals; we are here to help you achieve them.

What qualities make someone particularly successful in nursing?

Dedication, persistence, and balance are very important when pursuing a MSN degree. Developing these qualities will make you a successful nurse leader one day soon!

What do you think is the biggest challenge that nurses face today?.

I think nurses (clinical leaders, practitioners, and faculty) are challenged by the change required in health care and by competing obligations. One key I have found helpful is to focus on what is in front of you and give it your undivided attention. You will be much happier with your results and less stressed if you do this.

What is the one book you think everyone should read?

The Present by Spencer Johnson

Tell us something interesting about yourself that your students might not know about you.

One interesting fact you might not know about me is that while teaching in India I went on a zoo safari. Unfortunately, our van broke down and I had to run from that van to a bus with nothing between me and the tigers in the enclosure. It was a once in a lifetime experience; I survived to tell the story.

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