September 9, 2010

VUSN, Anesthesia partner to expand ICU nurse training

Featured Image

Project Coordinator Joshua Squiers, Ph.D., R.N., left, watches as VUSN students Ariel Waters, center, and Dalton Pickney work on a simulated critical care scenario in the CELA lab. (photo by Joe Howell)

VUSN, Anesthesia partner to expand ICU nurse training

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and the Division of Critical Care Anesthesia are partnering to help prepare acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) students for expanded roles in caring for intensive care unit patients with the help of a three-year, $800,000 Health Research Services Administration grant.

The grant funds a new specialty track within the ACNP program to train acute care nurse practitioners as tertiary level intensivists, after which they will become part of the multidisciplinary teams managing ICU patients.

This is one approach to solving the anticipated national shortfall of physician intensivists in the coming years and will allow nurse practitioner students to expand their clinical expertise.

“Historically, we've taken a less integrated approach to training like this,” said Josh Squiers, Ph.D., R.N., project coordinator.

“For this project, we have pulled together the best resources from our physician critical care colleagues, our nurse practitioner faculty colleagues and the School of Nursing into one package and are delivering the curriculum as one integrated program.”

In the new project, ACNP students will learn from physician and nurse practitioner faculty teaching side-by-side in the classroom, in clinical rotations and in the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA), where much of the training will take place.

CELA, which offers a wide range of simulation technologies, includes computerized mannequins that can reproduce real-world scenarios that frequently present themselves in the ICU setting.

Simulation training provides students with the opportunity to participate at a more heightened level than they could with actual patients and provides an educational opportunity with structured debriefing sessions.

“This program allows us to take care of the complex patients that are filling the ICUs,” said C. Lee Parmley, M.D., J.D., executive medical director of the VUMC Critical Care Units.

“You see student comfort levels go up and their skill sets improve dramatically. Then, when the students start their careers, they have clinical expertise and are up to speed.”

The students who participated in the pilot test leading up to this expanded program had a positive response to the integrated learning.

“We are fortunate to have a progressive critical care practice here at Vanderbilt with integrated physicians and nurse practitioners providing critical care services,” said Joan King, Ph.D., ACNP-BC, professor and program director for the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program at VUSN and principal investigator for the grant.

“That, and having the educational partnership of Critical Care Anesthesia, CELA and the School of Nursing is the most unique feature of this grant.”