AU DNP student keeps her focus on the ‘long game’ as she works, studies and prepares for next steps

04/02/2020 ASHLAND, Ohio – Jennifer Maurer’s mother would tell you her daughter decided on a career in nursing when she was  3 years old.

It’s a memory Maurer doesn’t necessarily recall, even though her preschool prediction turned out to be true.

“Coming out of (New Philadelphia) High School, I was kind of back and forth on what I wanted to do,” said Maurer. “(I thought) maybe I should go to nursing school.” So, she got an associate’s degree and went to work at Union Hospital in Dover, where she works in the Critical Care Unit.

It’s work Maurer has loved for 17 years, even as she completed the RN-to-BSN program at Ashland University. But Maurer will be the first to admit it’s also physically demanding work. And after nearly two decades in the field, she said, “I felt like I was going to come to a point physically where it was going to be harder and harder. I didn’t want it to be like that.”

Fortunately, there was another option and one that would bring Maurer back to her previous relationship with AU: the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. “(AU) has such a good reputation for the quality of its education,” she said, adding that the program is relatively convenient, with courses offered online format, plus residency requirements each semester and a scholarly project. And if Maurer needs to come to campus, it’s not that far of a drive from her Tuscarawas County home.

Though coursework is online, Maurer said the AU faculty “is amazing; they really are.” And they’re just a text, call or email away. Maurer’s academic advisor is Associate Professor of Nursing Jackie Owens, who also is the director of the RN-to-BSN program Maurer completed in 2017. Owens said she always likes to see students return to AU to continue their nursing education.

Maurer credits Owens with keeping her focused. “She listens so intently,” Maurer said, “and her one line is ‘are we going to worry about your long game or are we going to worry about your short game?’”

“It has been my pleasure to work with Jen in both (the RN to BSN and DNP) programs,” Owens said, “and to watch her personal and professional growth.”

When Maurer completes the program, she will have earned both a Family Nurse Practitioner designation as well as a doctorate in nursing. Other tracks offered within the DNP program include a BSN-to-DNP program in Health Systems Leadership and MSN-to-DNP programs in Health Systems Leadership and Advanced Practice.

Maurer, who is both working and going to school year around, will graduate in Spring of 2021.  When she has earned her degree, she will be eligible to sit for her certification exam and upon completion will be a primary care provider.

Eventually, she said, she may focus more on gerontology, the area covered in her scholarly project. “I love older people,” Maurer said. “I love taking care of older adults.”

Maurer credits her family with supporting her throughout the time she has been taking classes, adding that her mom has joked that she “has taken the idea of lifelong learning a little too literally.”

In the end, Maurer will realize her goal. Classes and clinicals “will be over. It will be worth the work,” she said. “You really do have to think about your long game.”

Learn more about the AU DNP program at


Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.eduvalues the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.###