Faculty Spotlight

Walking the Brandman line: master’s to doctorate to adjunct

August 27, 2015 by Brandman University
Senior Chief Petty Officer Webster Nicholson Jr.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Webster Nicholson Jr. joins the Brandman University faculty this fall as an adjunct professor after completing his Ed.D. at Brandman in the spring.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Webster Nicholson Jr. may not have had becoming a college professor in mind when he first walked through the doors of what was then Chapman University College but it’s definitely what he had in mind when he received his doctorate from Brandman University in May.

Nicholson, the senior enlisted leader of the healthcare business department of the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, will add adjunct professor to his name when the start of the Fall I session. He’ll be teaching Teams and Leadership for the School of Business and Professional Studies.

Now instead of preparing for an instructor’s questions, he has to anticipate what the students will be asking. “It’s a whole different atmosphere,” he said.

Nicholson earned his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (M.A.O.L.) while stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

“When I went to the base, I researched a lot of schools. But when I walked into Chapman, I felt welcomed. The staff knew the students, they knew the degree plan. When I went back a couple of weeks later, they remembered me and my educational goals,” said Nicholson.

That personal touch continued after he moved to San Diego in 2010. He eventually enrolled in the Ed.D. program’s inaugural class(known as the Alphas), many of who joined him on the graduation stage this spring. “Dr. (Pat) White (associate dean and one of the driving forces behind the Ed.D. program) is an amazing lady,” said Nicholson, noting again that the personal connection helped him make his decision.

Nicholson’s dissertation was a qualitative study on the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior regiment, interviewing them about the quality of care they received in San Diego at the Naval Medical Center.

“I learned that we provide some great quality care, but they had some concerns about the military structure in a hospital setting,” said Nicholson. “We’ve created a better communication process between the hospital staff and the Wounded Warrior program.” The program includes both active duty and veterans.

Using what he learned researching and writing his dissertation to change things at the Naval Medical Center is typical of the way the university works, he said. “At Brandman, they give you tools that you can use every day.”

Originally from Alabama, Nicholson didn’t start working on his college degree until he was in the Navy, working as a hospital corpsman. With 24 years of service, he expects to retire in August 2017. “I really pushed myself to become educated because I want to teach when I retire. I want to be a college professor.”

This fall the class he’s teaching will include lessons on conflict management, one of the many tools he says has helped him in his Navy job of dealing with access to care, complaints and concerns from patients and staff while trying to make sure patients are getting the care they need and deserve.

“Not all conflict is bad conflict. Conflict management helps you figure out how people differ, their different personalities, and find ways to make the situation better,” he said.

Classes at Brandman also drove that concept home. “What I really like about Brandman is they support the adult learners. The biggest thing I’ve seen is the diversity,” adding he’s had classmates who are married with kids (as he is), others who are fresh out of high school and even some 60-year-olds.


Qualitative Study of the United States Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment
by Webster F. Nicholson, Jr.

Serious health care issues were discovered first at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2007 and later at U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs health care organizations in 2014 (Brady, 2012; Cohen, Griffin, & Bronstein, 2014; Wright, 2013). The continued success of the Wounded Warrior Program requires a system that will constantly assess and analyze health care quality from the patient’s experience. From a systems perspective, health care quality encompasses six dimensions, and the study involved examining the dimension and four core concepts of patient-centered care (Institute of Medicine, 2001; Lees, 2011; Wexler, 2002; World Health Organization, 2006). A qualitative, phenomenological research method was selected for this study. Purposeful sampling was used to identify 10 marine veterans from the targeted population of wounded warriors previously assigned to the Naval Medical Center San Diego Wounded Warrior Detachment. The researcher as the instrument used an interview protocol with standardized, open-ended questions aligned with the research question. The findings of the study were reported according to the research question, and the following themes were identified: professional hospital staff, structured military culture, organized communication processes, shared decision making, and systematic teamwork.

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