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Critical care skills sharpened at VUMC Nursing ‘Boot Camp’

Aug. 31, 2022, 2:50 PM

Allison Wynes, ACNP-BC, speaks during last week’s ACNP/PA Critical Care Boot Camp.
Allison Wynes, ACNP-BC, speaks during last week’s ACNP/PA Critical Care Boot Camp. (photo by Donn Jones)

by Matt Batcheldor

About 200 nurse practitioners and physician assistants from around the country gathered at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel from Aug. 23-24 for the 11th annual ACNP/PA Critical Care Boot Camp, the first time the event has been held in person since 2019.

The event, organized by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of Advanced Practice, is a conference for critical care nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to receive specialized critical care training to improve patient care. The lecture-based course educates new providers with relevant evidence based clinical information, and it challenges experienced providers with new research, updated best practice guidelines and thought-provoking discussions. The diverse conference faculty includes physicians, NPs and PAs who are leaders in their disciplines both at Vanderbilt and in health care facilities nationwide.

“We really delve into the research and evidence behind critical illness with the intention to implement interventions at the bedside so we take care of our patients in the best way that we can,”  said Caroline Banes, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, co-chair of the event’s committee and lead ICU nurse practitioner for the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

Unlike the last two years, in which the event was held virtually, this year’s Boot Camp featured in-person discussions in a variety of areas, including “Top Papers in Critical Care Medicine,” “Interpretive Approach to Chest X-Rays” and “Mechanical Ventilation: Modes and Trouble Shooting.”

“It was incredibly energizing to have this group of people together, back in person, because there is a camaraderie that you don’t really get when you’re doing continuing education on Zoom,” said Janna Landsperger, MSN, RN, ACNP, co-chair of the event and nurse practitioner in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt University Hospital. “I think we were able to develop a lot of relationships, which is really the heart of Boot Camp.”

Participants, many of them recent graduates and early career professionals, come from all over the country, and their feedback helps inspire topics. They also have networking opportunities and leave with a new group of friends and mentors.

“They just love it because, as they describe it, there is not another conference or educational experience similar to what the Boot Camp committee puts on,” said Buffy Krauser Lupear, DNP, APRN, CRNA, director of Professional Development in the Office of Advanced Practice. “They were thrilled to be there.”

In addition to the lectures, the Boot Camp also included a two-day, critical care ultrasound course, organized by Banes, a hands-on opportunity to practice cardiac, lung, and abdominal ultrasound on live models.

“Being able to get back and have that really intimate, one-on-one, hands-on learning is so important, especially in critical care,” said Tess Huggins, MSN, RN, AG-ACNP, co-chair of the event and director of Surgical Critical Care Advanced Practice at Vanderbilt University Hospital. “That was really exciting as well.”

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.

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 1,200 advanced practice providers are at Vanderbilt. These clinicians are educated in nationally accredited programs, clinically trained and board certified in their area of practice.

“Every year, our Critical Care Boot Camp brings new energy to Vanderbilt, educating and enriching advanced practice clinicians both here and throughout the country,” said Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, NE-BC, executive chief nursing officer. “As our clinicians deepen their knowledge of the latest, evidence-based practice, we continue to improve care for our patients and families.”

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