‘Boot Camp’ helps sharpen critical care skillsSep. 23, 2021, 9:18 AM
by Matt Batcheldor
About 250 nurse practitioners and physician associates nationwide gathered over Zoom from Sept. 8-9 for the 10th annual ACNP/PA Critical Care Boot Camp, the second consecutive year for the event to be virtual, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, organized by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of Advanced Practice, is an annual opportunity for critical care nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician associates (PAs) to receive specialized critical care training to improve patient care.
Unlike last year’s event, which focused mostly on COVID-19-related topics, this year’s boot camp covered a variety of areas, including acute renal failure, acute hepatic failure, antibiotic therapy and ECMO — in addition to COVID. The boot camp is organized by VUMC’s own NPs and PAs, who start planning the event each year as soon as the last one ends. Janna Landsperger, MSN, RN, ACNP, chaired this year’s boot camp committee.
“We are thankful for the time and dedication of all the boot camp faculty,” Landsperger said. “Their commitment to continuing education helps providers across the country improve patient care.”
Participants, mostly recent graduates and early career professionals, come from all over the country, and their feedback helps inspire topics. Boot camp faculty include critical care NPs, PAs and physicians from multiple departments at Vanderbilt who volunteer their time as well as professionals from institutions nationwide. Twenty of the faculty members were from Vanderbilt.
“The ACNP/PA Critical Care Boot Camp is the premier conference for advanced practice critical care providers in the United States,” said Todd Rice, MD, MSc, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and one of the presenters at the boot camp. “It combines didactic with simulation and hands-on learning in all facets of critical care. The content is cutting edge, and the speakers are international experts. The topics that are taught are up to date, often controversial, and the boot camp does an amazing job of presenting the available data and the experts’ views on the data.”
Longtime organizer April Kapu, DNP, RN, recently appointed associate dean for Clinical and Community Partnerships at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN), said the original plan for the conference was a hybrid of a virtual sessions combined with a limited in-person event. But organizers pivoted to a fully virtual event over the summer as COVID-19 cases climbed locally. Speakers were based in a conference room in Medical Center North.
Kapu, formerly associate nursing officer for VUMC Advanced Practice and director of the Office of Advanced Practice, said she missed seeing people in person, but the virtual format offered several advantages. Participants could chat live and ask questions of speakers during the sessions. It was also an opportunity to network with colleagues after another extraordinary year.
“There was substantial moral support for one another, because every single person that had attended had been taking care of COVID patients,” Kapu said. “Everyone knew what everyone else had been going through, even though their hospital may be across the country.”
Each year, the conference honors the late Arthur Wheeler, MD, who was medical director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit and helped launch and support the event.
“Art’s commitment to education and improving patient care will never be forgotten,” Landsperger said.
VUMC is a national leader in advanced practice nursing. The Boot Camp is one of the only conferences in the country that provides focused education for critical care NPs and PAs. There are more than 325,000 NPs and 150,000 PAs in the United States today, and more than 1,400 advanced practice providers are at Vanderbilt. These clinicians are educated in nationally accredited programs, clinically trained and board certified in their area of practice.
“Vanderbilt is a national destination for advanced practice professionals, and the boot camp is our opportunity to share our expertise,” said Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, Executive Chief Nursing Officer. “Our critical care nurse practitioners and physician colleagues have been an essential part of caring for patients and families during these challenging times. I am so proud to witness their extraordinary leadership.”