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Critical care ‘Boot Camp’ draws nurses from across the nation

Sep. 15, 2016, 8:50 AM

Attendees of last week’s ACNP/PA Boot Camp hone their critical care skills in Vanderbilt’s Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment. (photo by Anne Rayner)
Attendees of last week’s ACNP/PA Boot Camp hone their critical care skills in Vanderbilt’s Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment. (photo by Anne Rayner)

More than 350 critical care nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nursing leaders from 40 states came to Vanderbilt this month for the fifth annual ACNP/PA Critical Care Boot Camp.

The event, spread over four days between the Student Life Center and the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA) Lab in Light Hall, was an opportunity for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to sharpen critical care skills that they can bring to their medical facilities at home.

New this year, the event kicked off with an Advanced Practice Leadership Conference on Sept. 6, which allowed team leaders, directors and chief nursing officers to come together for evidence-based discussion on the development of practice models, effective advanced practice organizational structures, leadership development for rising leaders and developing clinicians and networking with leaders from national academic and private health care systems, said April Kapu, DNP, APRN, Associate Nursing Officer for VUMC and advanced practice director.

Kapu and C. Lee Parmley, M.D., J.D., MMHC, Chief of Staff of Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH), were program directors of the boot camp.

“We are very proud of our Critical Care Advance Practice program at Vanderbilt, and extremely pleased that we are able to share our experience and learning with others through the ACNP/PA Critical Care Boot Camp,” Parmley said. “The successful growth and development of our Vanderbilt program over the past decade and our Boot Camp over the past few years, I see as clear evidence of the importance of this work and workforce as we look to the future of health care.”

In addition to lectures and panels at the Student Life Center, the event featured two days of hands-on learning in the CELA lab, up from one day last year. Participants responded to real-world simulations with mannequins in scenarios such as central line insertion, ultrasound, airway management and mechanical ventilation. The boot camp’s faculty is composed of 57 critical care nurse practitioners (ACNPs), physician assistants (PAs) and physicians from multiple VUMC departments.

“This year’s ANCP/PA Critical Care Boot Camp was reflective of the excellent work accomplished at VUMC with NPs and PAs and physician partners,” said Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, Executive Chief Nursing Officer. “Vanderbilt is recognized nationally for our advancement of NPs, and I am very proud of the 2016 Boot Camp.”

A rapidly growing field of health care providers, there are now more than 300,000 advanced practice nurses nationwide, and about 850 of them are at Vanderbilt, Kapu said. They include Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologists, Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives and Clinical Nurse Specialists. These practitioners are educated in nationally accredited programs, clinically trained and board certified in their area of practice.

Kapu said that participants come from an increasingly diverse cross-section of health care.

“In the past, most attendees have been from academic medical centers. This year, we had a large representation from community hospitals. Oftentimes, the NPs and PAs that practice in community hospitals are covering multiple intensive care units as well as other areas throughout the hospital. The knowledge and critical care skills that they gain at boot camp are tremendously beneficial, and the relationships established lead to networking for years to come,” Kapu said.

The boot camp would not be possible without the dedication of VUMC’s own NPs and PAs, who plan the event each year as soon as the last one ends. The boot camp committee is chaired by Janna Landsperger, MSN, APRN, medical intensive care nurse practitioner, and Billy Cameron, MSN, APRN, assistant director of advanced practice at the Surgical Patient Care Center, as well as members representing every intensive care unit.

“The fact that we had our largest attendance to date strengthens our drive and passion to deliver the highest quality, evidence-based education for critical care NPs and PAs at this conference,” Cameron said. “My greatest hope is that as a result of this conference, the attendees will be able to improve care and outcomes for their own patients.”

This year was a special year as it included a tribute to the late Arthur Wheeler, M.D., who was medical director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit and a champion of advanced practice nursing and the boot camp.

“Our fifth critical care ACNP/PA boot camp was dedicated to my dear friend, mentor and former medical director, Dr. Art Wheeler,” Landsperger said. “Art was monumental in the development of this course and continued to be an amazing physician champion from year to year. We hope to instill Art’s love for teaching, learning and taking excellent care of patients, in all participants.”

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