Teaching a Nurse Educator How to Lead and Inform the Future of Nursing

Thanks to rigorous academics and meaningful faculty relationships, alumna Nichole Butler is leveraging her experience in Widener’s nursing PhD program to excel as a nurse educator.

Headshot of Nichole Butler
Nichole Butler '21
Nichole Butler
Class of 2021
Doctor of Nursing Science (PhD)
  • School of Nursing
Career: Nurse Educator

When Nichole Butler ’21 began exploring nursing doctoral programs, she knew she wanted a program that would challenge her academically and advance her career as a nurse educator. 

It was shortly after a colleague, who happened to be a Widener nursing graduate, recommended Widener’s doctor of nursing science program that Nichole realized that Widener could take her to the next level of her career. 

“I decided to take the leap,” Nichole said. “And the rest was history.”

The rigorous program elevated Nichole's knowledge of the science of nursing and prepared her to not only inform the profession, but educate the next generation of nurses. Meaningful faculty relationships, complete with hands-on support and encouragement, delivered a transformational experience for Nichole. 

I’ve had one of the best experiences in education that I could have ever imagined." —Nichole Butler '21

Supported from the Start

Like many Widener graduate students, Nichole enrolled in the program while working full-time. Nichole says that the program’s supportive faculty were instrumental in helping to maintain the delicate balance of her personal and professional responsibilities while pushing her to succeed at every step.


“They’re approachable and always there to make sure that you’re on tasks and challenge your thinking to make you think in a different way,” Nichole said.


One faculty member in particular, Professor Barbara Patterson, director of the nursing PhD program, played an influential role during Nichole's time at Widener. Patterson’s extensive knowledge and experience in the field, along with the personal attention to Nichole's success, put Nichole on track to thrive both in and out of the classroom.


“There aren’t a lot of African-American women who pursue PhD programs so her support throughout this process was astounding,” said Nichole. 

Building a Network of Insiders

Nichole credits Patterson and other nursing faculty, such as Dean Anne Krouse, Professor Mary Baumberger-Henry, and Associate Professor Brenda Kucirka, for instilling in her the importance of networking within the profession.


“Dr. Patterson was instrumental in helping me and other students to network, and I feel that that is wonderful,” said Nichole. 


While enrolled in the program, Nichole was nominated to be a scholar in the National League for Nursing’s (NLN) Jonas Scholars Program. A key priority in the NLN, the program focuses on developing scholarship skills among doctoral nursing students to further advance nursing practice and ultimately create a positive impact on patient care.


According to Nichole, the program was pivotal in her academic career as it opened doors to make new connections with fellow nursing peers from similar backgrounds. 


“The opportunity Introduced me to people in nursing and other African-Americans in doctoral programs,” Nichole said.


After graduating from the program in December 2021, Nichole is leveraging her research experience and growing network of nursing scholars and peers to excel as a nurse educator and leave a mark on her students and the profession.

Career: Nurse Educator

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