Julie Vasher

Northland Pioneer College Class of 1995 Nursing Graduate Julie Vasher and her California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) colleagues at Stanford University School of Medicine are working with hospitals in California, nationally and internationally to improve obstetrical care and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity by implementing the latest best clinical practices for patient treatment. NPC is honoring her accomplishments and contributions to her communities as the Spring 2016 Outstanding Alumnus.

Julie Vasher, DNP, RNC-OB, CNS-BC, C-EFM
Julie Vasher

“The United States is not the best at maternity care. In fact, we are among the worst of developed nations,” explains Vasher. “Healthy People 2020 has a goal to reduce maternal mortality in the U.S. to 11.4 per 100,000 live births. When this goal was set in 2007, the U.S. mortality rate was 12.7. Since that time, the U.S. has reached a rate of 22.0 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (2013 data),” she continued.

In contrast, California peaked at 14.0 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. “Since the implementation of the Collaborative’s work, California has decreased its rate of maternal mortality to 7.0 – well below the Healthy People 2020 goal. But we still have work to do,” added Vasher.

Vasher, the “Clinical Implementation Lead” for the Collaborative, earned her Doctor of Nurse Practice (DNP) degree from Vanderbilt University; her bachelor’s and master’s nursing degrees from California State University – Dominquez Hills; is licensed and board-certified as a Parent/Child Clinical Nurse Specialist; and certified in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing and Fetal Monitoring. As a Clinical Nurse Specialist, or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Vasher functions in five roles to improve patient care – Expert in Clinical Practice, Educator, Leader, Researcher and Consultant. Vasher explained a DNP is designed to train nurses to hasten the implementation of identified clinical best practices from research to bedside – where it can really impact patient outcomes. “My capstone project for my DNP focused on patient education on hypertension in pregnancy and future cardiovascular risks.”

“The Implementation Lead position capitalizes on my background as a Clinical Nurse Specialist and my work as a DNP to identify best practices and help hospitals implement these in their facilities,” explained Vasher. “I provide guidance on an individual hospital level as needed, but mostly in a larger capacity. I speak at many conferences and gatherings on our work and how to overcome barriers to implement best clinical practice.”

The current Collaborative is working with 125 California hospitals to improve outcomes related to OB Hemorrhage and Preeclampsia (hypertension in pregnancy). The Collaborative developed various CMQCC toolkits, which are downloaded every day across the country and internationally, with over 6,000 downloads of the OB Hemorrhage kits and over 7,000 of the Preeclampsia toolkit. “Very soon, (expected release is April 2016) we will start our next initiative to reduce the Primary Cesarean Rate,” said Vasher. | Learn more about the Collaborative’s work and toolkits at www.cmqcc.org.

Born in Anaheim, California, Julie’s family re-located to Show Low when she was 8. Her parents, Roy and Pat Abbott, and brother Wayne Abbott, still reside in the Snowflake/Taylor area. Her sister, Kay, passed away in 2002, but her brother-in-law, Daryl Seymore, “who is still a member of my family,” resides in Show Low. She is married to Andrew Vasher, son of former NPC President Dr. Marvin Vasher. Together they have six children, ranging in age from 31 to 13. “We are lucky to have eight of the cutest and smartest grandkids! Our married kids are spread out in Utah, Texas and the Netherlands. We have two children at home and currently reside in Salinas, near the Monterey coast of California.”

“My kids and husband are involved heavily in athletics, so between the months of November and March, I spend a good deal of time in a gym. The basketball kind, not the working-out kind!” She also enjoys traveling for fun and spending time with family and grandkids.

A graduate of Show Low High School, all she ever wanted to be was a mom. She describes herself as “a late bloomer. After four children, I felt a need to gain more education and embark on a career serving others. That sounds altruistic, but I really wanted to be a nurse, but didn’t know if I could.”

Her cousin, Nancy Montgomery (also a Class of 1995 Nursing graduate) was working on her prerequisites to enter NPC’s new Nursing program and convinced Julie to enroll in the program with her. “I wasn’t very savvy to know about the BRN requirements, I just wanted to start.”

Even though the program was just in its second year, “we had great instructors – JoAnn Crownover and Kathryn Nicolet – who provided a great foundation and education.”

After receiving her Associate Degree in Nursing, Vasher worked at San Luis Regional Medical Center in Alamosa, Colorado, before returning to the White Mountains a year later to work in the float pool of general nurses at Navapache Regional Medical Center (now Summit Healthcare). She would later start specializing in obstetrics while working in Sonora, California, and has been in OB since 1997.

“NPC helped me to embrace the principals of lifelong learning. As a nontraditional student – in my 30s with four kids – they made it achievable. I believe their commitment to students created a visible path to continued learning and the desire to achieve all I could,” noted Vasher.

What advice would she give to current NPC Nursing students? “Nursing is a livelong pursuit. The American Nurse Association Code of Ethics commits registered nurses to always pursue new knowledge. It is not enough to obtain an RN license and punch a clock. Nurses should always be evolving, changing and improving.”

She continues, “As the most trusted profession in the United States, nurses have a responsibility to themselves and patients to open themselves to new ideas. With each educational pursuit, I learned more about the true art and science of nursing and the impact we all can have. Keep going, learn more, do more!”

What is Vasher’s next project? “More collaborative work focused on decreasing the primary cesarean rate. We now know how important it is to avoid the first cesarean to avoid future problems of morbidity and mortality with women. Cesarean sections are a great blessing for many to ensure maternal and newborn health, but, unfortunately, a good number of these are not necessary. Our next toolkit and collaborative are called Supporting Vaginal Birth and Reducing Primary Cesareans.”

Her work and speaking schedule would not allow Vasher to attend the recognition ceremony. As the Outstanding Alumnus for the Spring 2016 Semester, Vasher will receive mementos of the college, a crystal eagle plaque, and a transferrable gift certificate for three credits tuition.

To read more about previous Outstanding Alumnus Award winners or to nominate an NPC graduate for this award, visit www.npc.edu/alumni-award-recipients.

By NPC Media Relations Coordinator Everett Robinson