Our Faculty

Bringing dedication to the profession and a passion for teaching
to our programs

Our Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP) program with online coursework and clinical training in your community is driven by the passion of our faculty members. Samuel Merritt University chooses nursing educators who have demonstrated clinical leadership skills and research capabilities to help us develop the next generation of advanced practice nurses. Under their guidance, you can equip yourself to flourish professionally and do more for patients.

To give you an idea of who teaches MSN FNP programs at SMU, we’ve invited key faculty members to introduce themselves below.

Rhonda Ramirez, Ed.D., FNP-BC
Associate Professor

I am the Director of the FNP Program and am proud to be an alum (1996) of the program. Since 1997 I have been a part of the FNP program in various teaching capacities. For the past 17 years I have been a Family Nurse Practitioner at Native American Health Center in Oakland, CA, a Family Practice community clinic.

Occasionally, I provide care to adolescents at high school based clinics in Oakland & Alameda.

Native American youth and tribal identity to overcome alcohol abuse and maintain wellness was the topic of my doctoral dissertation.

Vulnerable adolescents have a big place in my heart. Each semester I invite FNP interns to precept at my clinics to gain the valuable experience I have come to cherish.

Participation in medical missions internationally and within the U.S. has been another strong interest, especially when students accompany me and other faculty or clinicians.

The countries I have visited include Panama, Ghana, Burma, Thailand, and Laos. Courses I teach are Advanced Physical Assessment, Synthesis, Acute and Episodic Conditions, and Chronic and Complex Conditions.

I received my doctorate in education with emphasis in organization and leadership in 2006 from the University of San Francisco.

Valerie Dzubur, Ed.D., APRN NP-C
Associate Professor

I have been teaching at Samuel Merritt University since 2001 and am currently an associate professor in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. In this role, I teach Advanced Physical Assessment, Clinical Medicine, Health Promotion, and the FNP Roles course.

I have an active clinical practice at a community clinic in Richmond, CA. My clinical background includes emergency medicine, mental illness, substance abuse, HIV primary care, and family medicine.

I completed my doctoral studies at the University of San Francisco in 2006 with an Ed.D. in Organization and Leadership. My research work was an interpretative study into the notion of progress that explored the results of international development projects in Laos, Southeast Asia.

Other professional interests include working with Samuel Merritt University Podiatry students to provide a health clinic once a year at the California/Mexico border, and leading service and learning tours for FNP student in Southeast Asia.

I am also the vice president of the Lanna Kingdom Development Foundation, which works to support projects in Southeast Asia including an orphanage, a farming project, the development of an organic fish farm, and a village pre-school in Myanmar.

Jane Perlas, DNP, FNP-BC
Assistant Professor

I am passionate about nursing and my profession. I am a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) currently practicing as a Primary Care Provider (PCP) and Nurse Practitioner (NP) in the Emergency Department at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and Trauma Center. I maintain an active inpatient and outpatient clinical practice.

I have many interests and pursuits of diverse ingenuity. My career is always with the disenfranchised, whether it is the migrant workers of the Central Valley, or the homeless urbanites of the SF/Bay Area.

I worked for a non-profit organization that entrusted me with a family practice clinic, where I solely managed acute and chronic pediatrics and geriatrics patients. I created programs that tackled some of the local problems, such as a walking program to combat obesity and providing “camel back” drinking backpacks to farm workers working the long tedious hours in the fields, as well as providing “brown (condom) bags” to teenagers to prevent pregnancy.

I completed my Doctorate in Nursing Practice in 2010, on a project implementing a NP team in the medicine service. As the lead NP for this project, I trained as a hospitalist, and created an outpatient NP managed clinic for discharge pts without primary care providers.

My inpatient teaching of medical interns and residents brought me to teaching undergraduates and graduates nursing students at the UCSF School of Nursing, and later at University of SF while pursuing my doctoral degree.

After graduating with my doctoral degree in 2010, I taught the FNP program at SF State University. Currently, I am a full time Assistant Professor at Samuel Merritt University teaching didactic (Theoretical Foundation, Acute and Episodic Care, Chronic and Complex Conditions), clinical and skills lab.

I am also the lead faculty for SMU’s faculty practice. My interest in inter-professional studies and global health are pursuits that I am currently mastering. I am an unyielding advocate for patient and women’s rights, as well as for social justice. I continue to recruit and mentor colleagues and students to nursing.

Michelle Hampton, RN, MSN, PhD
Associate Professor

I am the Director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. I have been a faculty member at Samuel Merritt University since 2005.

Prior to taking this position I worked in a variety of inpatient and outpatient mental health programs in both administrative and direct care roles.

I am a former fellow of the American Nurses Association Minority Fellowship Program sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

I completed my doctorate at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing and was a post-doctoral fellow at UCSF in the HIV/AIDS Nursing Care and Prevention Training Program.

Research interests include ethnic disparities in mental health service utilization and medical co-morbidity including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C infection for adults with severe mental illness.

Courses I have taught include Evidence-Based Research Methods, Capstone Emphasis, Capstone Development, Capstone Presentation, Capstone Residency, Health Assessment, and Psychiatric Mental-Health Nursing.

Terry Dauwalder, DNP, FNP-BC
Assistant Professor

As Assistant Director of the FNP Program, I am one of the original faculty that started the Sacramento Samuel Merritt University (SMU) campus. As faculty at SMU, I have been able to teach multiple courses in all of the various Sacramento campus nursing programs. I have taught theory, lab, and clinical courses including Health Assessment, Community Health, Healthcare Finance, Adult Medical-Surgical Care, Adult Critical Care, Healthcare Policy, Advanced Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology. I have been a clinic FNP preceptor for more than 30 FNP students.

I worked clinically as a primary care Family Nurse Practitioner for 12 years. I was the Associate Medical Director of a federally qualified primary healthcare center (FQHC), and worked as a sub-investigator for a national research company.

In my 29 years as an RN, I worked in Critical Care, the Emergency Department, in Ambulance Transport, and as a Regional Director for a national Home Health, Hospice and Infusion Therapy corporation.

I currently work as an NP in inpatient and outpatient clinics providing psychiatric management of clients.

My passions are the management of those with mental and behavioral health conditions and the provision of quality healthcare for underserved and disenfranchised populations.

My doctorate from George Washington University afforded me the opportunity to learn and become a content expert about Russian Immigrant population healthcare in the Sacramento region.

I have tremendous interests in American health policy, economics and finance. My master’s degree in business with a focus in healthcare finance gave me a solid knowledge base for pursuing these interests.

I have been fortunate to participate in international medical missions and have gained valuable experience and understanding from those missions.

Cecily Reeves, PhD, FNP, PA-C

I have been a practicing FNP-C/PA-C since 1979, with many years providing care in the UCSF AIDS Clinic as well as the emergency departments at UCSF as Highland Hospital.

I provided specialty care to Transgender inmates in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation system until 2011.

I have been teaching at Samuel Merritt University since 1998 and I have been both interim director of the Case Management Program and interim Chair of the Physician Assistant Department, as well as 6 years as FNP Program Director, 3 years as DNP Program Director and 2 years as the President of the Faculty Organization.

My teaching interests include transgender healthcare, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, HIV and AIDS symptom management and quality of life.

I teach in both the DNP and FNP Programs, as well as guest present for the pre-licensure nursing programs.