News Releases

WGU Nursing Faculty Coordinator Recognized, 8/8/11

Mary Harper Wins Belinda E. Puetz Award for Professional Nursing Development

SALT LAKE CITY — Mary G. Harper, PhD, RN-BC, Clinical Faculty Coordinator at nonprofit, online Western Governors University, has received the Belinda E. Puetz Award for Nursing Professional Development. Dr. Harper, who leads the clinical faculty for WGU’s innovative B.S. in Nursing Prelicensure Program, was recognized at the annual national convention of the National Nursing Staff Development Organization (NNSDO) held in Chicago in July. The Puetz Award, named after the founder of NNSDO, is the highest national award for the specialty of Nursing Professional Development and recognizes outstanding contributions to the specialty.

Western Governors University’s multistate prelicensure BSN program, one of the university’s several online nursing programs, uses staff nurses to coach nursing students in the clinical setting during clinical intensives. As the Clinical Faculty Coordinator, Dr. Harper teaches staff nurses how to teach students in the clinical setting. She co-authored a manuscript describing this unique academic-service partnership entitled Building An Educational Model that Promotes Competence through Innovation that has been accepted for publication in the NLN Journal, Nursing Education Perspectives.

Dr. Harper has demonstrated leadership in the specialty of Nursing Professional Development (NPD). Certified in NPD, she has served two terms as a Director on the Board of Directors for NNSDO. In addition, she represents NNSDO on the American Nurses Association (ANA) Congress for Nursing Practice and Economics and serves on the Congress’ Workgroup for Education. She was on the task force that revised the NPD Scope and Standards in 2010, co-chairing the subcommittee that revised the model of NPD practice. As a member of this task force, she presented the revisions in the scope and standards to national groups including NNSDO, the National League for Nursing (NLN), and the Professional Nurse Educators Group (PNEG). She also contributed a chapter to the Core Curriculum for Nurses in Staff Development, 3rd Edition and has been named a section editor for the fourth edition. Recently, she was selected as an instructor for the NNSDO NPD Certification Review Course.

WGU’s B.S. in Nursing (Prelicensure) program is the nation’s first competency-based, online bachelor’s degree program designed to prepare students for initial licensure as registered nurses. The CCNE-approved online nursing degree combines WGU’s competency-based academic approach with clinical simulations and clinical intensives supervised by onsite clinical coaches and instructors serving as WGU adjunct faculty. More than 100 students are currently enrolled in the program, which is currently operating at select locations in California and Texas and is scheduled to expand to Florida, Indiana, and Utah in the next six months.

This innovative program was developed by nonprofit WGU in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Utah Department of Workforce Services, and major healthcare partners, including Cedars Sinai Medical Center, HCA, Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Healthcare West, and Tenet Healthcare. This partnership was created to address the growing shortage of registered nurses by making quality nursing education more accessible. For more information regarding the program, go to, or call 1-866-225-5948.

Schema Markup for WGU Logo

You’re using an unsupported version of your browser..

You’ll still have full access to the site, but some functionality may be lost. For the best experience, upgrade your browser by following the links below.