Recent Graduate Earns National Military Award

Kimberly Davis, D.N.P. Class of 2019, RN, ACNS-BC, received the Department of Defense 2019 Advancement Toward High Reliability Healthcare Award in Healthcare Quality for the comprehensive behavioral health screening program she developed to promote health awareness among veterans, active-duty service members and their families. Thomas McCaffery, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, presented the award to Dr. Davis in December 2019 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Eddie Arrossi. Courtesy of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States.

DNP Executive Administrative Management

By Tracy Hobson Lehmann

Nurses stop Kimberly Davis, D.N.P., RN, ACNS-BC, as she walks through hallways of her workplace, thanking her for helping them potentially save lives. She, in turn, thanks the School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program for giving her the skills and confidence to change how one of the nation’s largest military hospitals treats behavioral health screening within primary care.

Dr. Davis, performance improvement coordinator for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, earned her D.N.P. in the Executive Administrative Management track in 2019. Her doctoral project focused on standardized, comprehensive behavioral health screenings for patients at BAMC’s five primary care clinics.

Those clinics serve veterans, active-duty military members and their families, a total of about 66,000 patients. Now, when a patient comes in for an appointment, the adult screening paperwork includes a questionnaire that screens for depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicidal ideation.

As nurses review responses during vital sign checks, they can begin discussions with patients or flag concerns to providers. A guide, which is provided in each exam room, was created for treating a patient with suicidal or homicidal ideation.

Dr. Davis sought feedback across the board at BAMC, talking with nurses, front-desk personnel, providers, IT staff and clinical workflow analysts to determine best practices for gathering patient information within the narrow window of an office visit, addressing concerns about behavioral health and documenting the information.

“It wasn’t just my project. Everyone at BAMC had to champion the project,” she said. “The strong relationship between UT Health San Antonio and BAMC helped me create a project supported by leadership and always keep the patient as the priority.”

Dr. Davis began her nursing career in the U.S. Air Force. After eight years on active duty, she transitioned to civilian nursing, and her career changed each time she and her husband, who still serves in the military, moved to a new duty station.

She shifted from pediatrics to nursing administration to trauma, and she earned her M.S.N. from Auburn University and became certified as an adult health clinical nurse specialist.

Along the way, she raised a daughter, who plans to pursue nursing studies in the fall, and a son who is a junior at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and plans to join the Air Force.

Back in San Antonio, where her husband plans to retire, Dr. Davis returned to military nursing.
“My position is about quality. Working in quality, and the ability to effectively develop great evidenced-based quality-improvement projects is what sold me on the D.N.P. degree and the Executive Administrative Management track,” she said.

Though she’s already working on her next project—this one about patients with diabetes—her behavioral health effort has the attention of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

She won a DOD 2019 Advancement Toward High Reliability Award in Healthcare Quality, and later this year, she will present a webinar about the initiative to the Defense Health Agency.

“Having my doctorate lends gravity to what I’m saying,” Dr. Davis said. “Hopefully what I built will continue to flourish and continue to save lives.”

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