Tony Simmons

Florida State University Panama City will award 29 degrees in its Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) on Sunday, May 5.

“The achievements of the class of 2024 are nothing short of remarkable,” said Stacey VanDyke, DNP, program administrator and associate professor. “Over the past three years, they've completed over 30,000 anesthetics, accumulated 81,000 clinical hours, and undertaken a scholarly inquiry project—all while navigating a demanding curriculum comprising 99 graduate credit hours. Their dedication to both theory and practice is evident, setting a high standard for future generations.”

Before walking the stage with fellow graduates from other programs, the DNAP graduates will participate in the first-ever Hooding Ceremony in the St. Joe Community Foundation Lecture Hall at the Holley Academic Center, 4750 Collegiate Drive, Panama City, from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday.

“For many, the ceremony holds personal significance,” VanDyke said. “The clinical preceptor of the year will be honored, acknowledging the invaluable support of clinical partners without whom this journey would not have been possible. Additionally, the program will pay tribute to graduating veterans, presenting them with cords and coins—a gesture of respect and gratitude for their service to their country.”

Among the accolades bestowed during this ceremony will be awards for outstanding leadership, academics, clinical performance and scholarly inquiry. The most prestigious of these, the Agatha Hodgins Award for Outstanding Nurse Anesthesia Graduate, honors a student who exemplifies excellence in both clinical practice and academic pursuit, embodying the visionary spirit of Hodgins, the founder and first president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiologists.

After the hooding ceremony, DNAP grads will then proceed to Tommy Oliver Stadium, 351 E. 13th St. in Panama City, to participate in the Spring Commencement ceremony, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

The first doctoral program offered at FSU Panama City, DNAP was approved by the State University System of the Florida Board of Governors in 2020 with a start date of 2021. This week’s ceremony marks the program completion for 29 of the original cohort of students.

The rigorous 36-month DNAP program, which includes clinical experience at one of 23 participating hospitals across the Southeast, prepares the registered nurses to become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). 

“It's a role of immense responsibility and trust, as CRNAs safely administer over 50 million anesthetics annually in the United States,” VanDyke said. “Their proficiency and dedication make them among the most trusted health care professionals, a fact echoed by Gallup's recognition of nurses as the nation's most trusted for 20 consecutive years.”