Dr. Stephanie Brown

Cultivating Nursing Practice:
A Young Professor's Pathway to Academia

Stephanie Brown graduated from the Indiana State University Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in May of 2018, and she was also a 2013 ISU graduate, Dr. Stephanie Brownearning Master of Science (MS) in nursing upon completion of the education tract.  Her DNP scholarly project focused upon the health promotion of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) through community gardening.  Her study concentration is a result of the fact that she was raised on a farm, and her family grew a significant amount of the fruits and vegetables the family ate each day.  Stephanie’s passion to support others to engage in healthy lifestyles led her to enter into the nursing profession and then to raise her own children on a farm, carrying on these traditions related to gardening and feeding one’s family produce that was grown organically.  Stephanie has significant concerns associated with the health of our nation, particularly the limited intake of fresh fruits and vegetabl

es, lack of daily physical activity, and high incidence of obesity that has been documented in the literature; therefore, she took the initiative to deliver a program that she believed had the potential to positively impact these grave statistics.  She developed and implemented a 6-month program at three sites of a day program organization for individuals with I/DD in Southeastern Indiana, including comprehensive nutrition education, incorporating the United States Department of Agriculture MyPlate Guidelines and adapted lessons from Health Matters: Exercise and Nutrition Health Education Curriculum for People with Developmental Disabilities, as well as interactive cooking classes and gardening via outdoor raised beds and an indoor tower garden growing system. 

Program participants engaged in activities to his or her ability.  The participants enjoyed planting vegetables such as tomatoes, green beans, green peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, strawberries, and herbs in raised garden beds, and they planted flowers in patio pots.  Some of the participants also engaged in gardening that involved ground level beds, planting perennial flowers.  The participants raised salad greens, such as lettuce, spinach, and kale as well as herbs in the tower gardens.  All fruits and vegetables were harvested without the aid of artificial fertilizer or chemical products, and this produce, as well as additional healthy foods, were used in the meals prepared in the interactive cooking classes. 

Stephanie’s DNP scholarly project awarded her an opportunity to address the health challenges and disparities that individuals with I/DD contend with associated with poor nutritional intake and sedentary lifestyles.  Stephanie continues to be involved in the Southeastern Indiana Community Gardens Team and participates in community gardening projects to help support the health of her local community via increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  She is also currently working on multiple efforts to expand her gardening programming to engage various different populations. The knowledge and skills Stephanie gained as a result of the coursework in ISU’s DNP program as well as the completion of her scholarly project more than prepared her for a future career in academia.  Shortly after completion of her DNP degree, Stephanie was able to pursue her passion for education and was honored to accept a position as a full-time faculty member in the Department of Advanced Practice Nursing at ISU.  As described above, Stephanie continues to engage in gardening efforts to benefit the health of her community, and she has also had the opportunity to present her work at local and national conferences via poster and podium presentations.  All this would not be possible without the dedicated faculty at ISU who mentored her and supported her to evolve personally and professional all throughout her enrollment in the DNP program.  Stephanie attributes her employment in academia to the intellectual growth she experienced as a result of her ISU education.  She is honored to not only be an ISU alum, but to now be a proud member of the nursing faculty team!