Opening Vistas

Jennifer A. Turner
July 21, 2022
Dr. Simone Chinnis
Chinnis looks over her hometown from the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital observation deck.

First inspired by nursing as a teenager, Dr. Simone Chinnis, Class of 2005 and 2017, knows the power of perspective. Now a MUSC College of Nursing alumna and faculty member, she is committed to opening vistas for the next generation of nursing students.

As a high school student at Charleston’s Academic Magnet, Simone Chinnis, DNP, MBA, FNP-C, was drawn to the field of community health and the chance to improve the lives of her neighbors and friends. For her capstone research project, she connected with MUSC College of Nursing faculty member Carolyn Jenkins, Ph.D., who opened the door to a world of scientific research and broadened her perspective of a future dedicated to helping others. At Furman University, Chinnis majored in health exercise science and Spanish and also continued to pursue community health opportunities, including interning one summer at the City of Charleston Mayor’s Office, where she helped with the placement of a nurse in each Charleston County school. Recognizing the joy she found in those experiences, she was conflicted about a future career until reconnecting with Jenkins and other nurses, including Debbie Bryant, Ph.D., Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., Gayenell Magwood, Ph.D., and Susan Newman, Ph.D. Chinnis was inspired by their fulfilling journeys as nurses as well as their passionate advocacy for community health and equity care. Chinnis’ aunt, a dedicated licensed practical nurse, sealed the deal by offering the following advice: “If you want a job, get a job. But, if you want a career, become a nurse.”

After enrolling in the accelerated BSN program at MUSC, Chinnis eventually earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree and in 2020 became a full-time faculty member after serving as an adjunct since 2017. With a professional focus on eradicating health disparities by improving the quality and delivery of health services, she was the perfect fit to assume the directorship of PARTNER (the Psychiatric Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Technology-Enhanced Residency Program) when her mentor Bryant retired. Funded through a three-year Duke Endowment grant and the first revenue generating practice program at the College of Nursing, PARTNER is a collaborative project involving the college, MUSC Health Center for Telehealth and the Institute of Psychiatry. Its goal is to meet the immense behavioral health needs of S.C. patients across the lifespan by advancing equity through telehealth. For Chinnis, the opportunity to open vistas for both underserved patients and nurses new to the profession was irresistible.

“In South Carolina, there is a higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rate of access to psychiatric care, especially in rural areas,” she shared. “Through the use of telehealth, PARTNER’s residents are able to provide care to patients by eliminating geographical barriers. This is the first in the nation telepsychiatric residency for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, who receive additional training while providing care in partnership with primary care providers.” Currently, PARTNER trains two new fellows a year under the Duke Endowment Grant, and Chinnis’ goal is for the program to reach a level of self-sustainable growth. With its potential for impact, the program also helps fulfill Chinnis’ long-held desire to help people by expanding opportunities for care. “We get to be agents of change in the community and meet the needs of marginalized populations,” she emphasized. “PARTNER is a testament that the College of Nursing has visionaries who are able to forge new paths in our quest to advance health equity.”

To find out more about PARTNER, visit