Fellows and faculty members at Nurses Day in Springfield, March 7th, 2023

Welcome back to the AdvancingPractice Pages, Erie’s APRN Fellowship Newsletter! If you remember in our last newsletter, we announced that we are now an accredited program by the Consortium of Advanced Practice Providers, and we are still on cloud 9! If you missed that newsletter, you can read it here. Besides becoming accredited, this has been a particularly special year for AdvancingPractice for several reasons that we have been anxiously waiting to share! 

The Third Cohort

It is bittersweet to announce that all nine Fellows from our 2022-2023 Cohort completed their fellowship year on June 30, 2023. This group will always hold a special place in our hearts as they all proved to have immense passion for their patients since day one and built bonds with one another that were truly inspiring and helped them each get through the year. They challenged us as faculty members, preceptors, and leaders to continue to strengthen not only our program, but Erie as a whole. A few notable mentions: 

  • On March 7, 2023, the fellows, along with some faculty members, took a road trip to Springfield for Nurses Day at the Capitol (see picture above)! This was our first advocacy initiative within the fellowship. As mentioned, this group had a lot of passion for their patients, including fighting for health equity and government protection for community health centers. They spoke with legislators about these ideals and represented Erie and AdvancingPractice in the best way!

  • We successfully piloted a maternal health track for two of our Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Fellows. These two fellows spent one day a week working with a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) to gain experience in prenatal and postnatal care. They even got to go observe a 24-hour call shift with our Clinical and Reproductive Health Liaison, Jeni Poell, and our CNM Fellow. We are excited to continue and further enhance the maternal health track as a permanent part of the fellowship curriculum 

"The fellowship gave me the opportunity to build not only clinical skills, but professional relationships with staff. Forming connections with patients and helping them reach their goals was the best part. I walk into work today as an APRN in school-based health with confidence because I have that knowledge and support system behind me."

Casey Scott, MSN, FNP-BC

  • On June 30, we held our annual end of year celebration to honor all the hard work our fellows have done. During their time in the fellowship, the fellows served a total of 8,259 patients, completed 730 telehealth visits, and our CNM Fellow delivered 42 babies.  

We are happy to announce that five fellows have accepted positions at Erie Family Health Centers at various locations. We wish this entire group of fellows good luck as they begin practicing independently. We are confident that these individuals will be successful wherever their careers may take them, and we will miss them dearly! 

All nine fellows from the 2022-2023 cohort during the end of year celebration

And the Award goes to...

AdvancingPractice! We recently become recipients of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s new Advanced Nurse Education- Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship program grant! For those who have been following us since the beginning, AdvancingPractice came to fruition after receiving a HRSA grant four years ago. As that award ended this past July, we have been working hard this year to secure external funding. The application for this new award came out in February 2023 and focuses on enhancing and expanding established NP fellowships and residencies. Our faculty and Erie’s development team worked extremely hard on writing the grant application, eloquently explaining our plans to support the grant’s purpose. We plan to enhance and expand our program's curriculum with this grant. Here's a few highlighted changes: 

  • We will be providing dedicated time to our fellows to complete a Primary Care Behavioral Health Certificate program. This program will help our fellows integrate behavioral health techniques within the primary care setting, as well as smoothly refer patients with mental health conditions to appropriate resources.

Cindy Stoffel, MSN, MPH, CNM and Anisha Gill, MSN MPH, FNP-C during one of Anishas maternal health day.

  • We will continue to offer and build up the maternal health track to interested Family Nurse Practitioner fellows. Training Family Nurse Practitioners to provide prenatal and postnatal care, along with procedures commonly seen with these patients, will help increase access and quality of maternal health outcomes for underserved patients.  


  • We will be strengthening our commitment to fellow wellness in a couple of different ways. One new collaboration we are thrilled about is with Sarazine Mindfulness. Julia Sarazine, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, will provide mindfulness and resiliency sessions to our fellows to help prevent burnout and apply mindfulness techniques to everyday life.

  • We will be expanding the Fellowship to Erie HealthReach Waukegan. This year, two fellows will be placed at this clinic three days a week where they will see their own panel of patients and work with some amazing preceptors to provide care to patients in Lake County. Eventually, we will also be expanding our Fellowship to Erie’s new site in the Sankofa Wellness Village in West Garfield Park when it opens in 2025. 

We are so grateful to have received such a meaningful and transformative award. Thank you to HRSA for understanding the needs of health care and trusting us to make a difference. We cannot wait to get started! 

Drum Roll Please

We know what you’re thinking. When are you getting started and who are the new fellows!? We are pleased to announce that we have eight new fellows beginning the program on September 11, 2023! At the same time we were writing the application for the new grant, we were also interviewing and hiring our next cohort. We began the interview process in March, continuing our focus on promoting diversity by utilizing the Holistic Review Method. In May, we hired eight new fellows to be apart of the 4th cohort of AdvancingPractice! As usual, our fellows will go through an intensive orientation for four weeks and will begin seeing their own patients on October 9, 2023. We cannot wait to get started with this group of highly qualified and determined individuals. 

From top to bottom, left to right: Johnny Perez, DNP, FNP-BC, Juliel Ravago, DNP, FNP-BC, Devin Murray, MSN, FNP-BC, Brooke Dayries, MSN, FNP-C, Anna Hankins, MSN, CNM, Olivia Dumont, MSN, CNM, WHNP, Jean Wu, MSN, FNP-BC, and Samantha Jerusal, MSN, CPNP-PC

AdvancingPractice Advancements

We are pleased to welcome Stefani Alexander, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC to the AdvancingPractice team as one of our new University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing Partners! Dr. Alexander is a Board-Certified Women's Health Nurse Practitioner and will serve as the Curriculum Specialist for the Fellowship.

"I am a third-time alum of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Nursing, Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses. I recently graduated with my DNP in Fall 2022 and received both my MSN and BSN in 2012 and 2008 respectively. My background includes working in a variety of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), private practice, and medical clinics as a WHNP. My passion and compassion lie in helping those who are underserved and underrepresented. I grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood so I am able to empathize with my patients and find valuable resources to help them live their best lives! I believe that the APRN Fellowship is crucial in building a strong foundation for future nurse practitioners to help close the gap in our healthcare system. I am looking forward to mentoring and teaching the knowledge, skills, and experiences that I've encountered and seeing the transformative power of mentorship change the lives of the patient populations that we serve!

The Last Page

With the start of the new HRSA grant, it feels like we are starting a new chapter. AdvancingPractice has always been committed to evolving in order to meet the current needs of both patients and the APRN’s in our program. We have recently changed our mission to better reflect what we have become most passionate about, which is developing and mentoring the next generation of advanced practice registered nurses to ensure a workforce of primary care providers who deliver high-quality, holistic healthcare to underserved communities. Through nursing leadership and promoting diversity, we are committed to eliminating structural barriers and other systems of oppression to positively impact the workforce and the health of communities. We are confident that this next chapter will better serve the fellows who choose our program to be trained in providing comprehensive, confident, and relevant healthcare.   

Enjoying our Newsletters? What else do you want to know about the Fellowship? Let us know what you think by emailing us at [email protected]



Faculty member, Esther Sault, MSN, FNP-BC, and former fellows Casey Scott, MSN, FNP-BC, Sarah Cate Fisher, MSN, CPNP-PC, Kawana Tharps, DNP, FNP-C and Jessica Alferez, MSN, FNP-BC

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Meet the Fellowship Advisory Committee

Kiersten Solis, MSN, FNP-BC, Program Director, Erie

Sarah Fitz, MSN, APRN, ACNP

Health Education Specialist,

Clinical Assistant Professor, UIC

Kathy Rugen, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, Clinical Associate Professor, UIC

Emily Bettencourt,

Program Administrative Manger, Erie

Esther Sault, MSN, FNP-BC

Clinical Liaison Lead, Erie

Jenifer Poell, MSN, CNM, WHNP, Clinical and Reproductive Health Liaison Lead, Erie

Natalie Raghu, DNP, APRN, FNP-C

Medical Director of Advanced Practice Providers, Erie

Stefani Alexander, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, Curriculum Specialist, UIC

Miriam Rodriguez, FNP

Erie HealthReach Waukegan

Edgar Woznica, MD, Psychiatrist, Erie

Lucy Amaro, DNP, FNP, Medical Director of School Based Health, Erie

Santina Wheat, MD, MPH

Program Director Northwestern Family

Medicine Residency, Erie

Nilusha Jayasinghe, MSN, FNP, Former Fellow, Erie

Stephanie Mora Hernandez, MSN, AGNP, Former Fellow, Erie