Vanderbilt University Medical Center has developed a pilot Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Intensivist Fellowship program run jointly by Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and the Department of Anesthesiology-Division of Critical Care Medicine.
“Much like physicians prepare for their subspecialty with a fellowship, the new ACNP fellowship provides an opportunity for master’s-prepared nurses to further refine skills and knowledge in experiential learning environments,” said Josh Squiers, MSN, ACNP-BC, who co-directs the fellowship with Nathan Ashby, M.D., assistant professor of Anesthesiology.
Specifically, the program combines an Intensive Care Unit-focused fellowship with VUSN’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, resulting in an advanced critical care curriculum at the doctoral level.
“Our DNP program is about preparing practice scholars as leaders in bringing evidence-based knowledge into practice,” said Donna McArthur, Ph.D., director of the DNP program.
“The intensivist fellows practice on multidisciplinary teams, develop competencies in performing advanced procedures and skills, participate in research initiatives within the intensive care units … and when they have successfully completed the program, they are clinical scholars who will have a profound impact on patient outcomes.”
“My role is to try and provide participants with very concentrated, face-to-face learning. The student looks at the patient from different angles and forms a plan working with multiple disciplines,” said Ashby, ACNP Fellowship co-director.
“It’s about making connections to see how this pathology affects patients in multiple different ways, from several different angles.”
Both Squiers and Ashby believe the culture at VUMC, one of the largest employers of nurse practitioners in the country, makes this pilot possible.
“The patient demand in Intensive Care Units is more than what any one group can fill. Nurse practitioners are one component of how you fill that need. If you are going to put them in that position, you need to give them the best training possible,” Ashby said.
There are several practice models for nurse practitioners in the ICUs throughout the Medical Center.
Some integrate nurse practitioners and residents, some are non-teaching services that handle less critically ill patients and others are the team like in the Cardiac Surgery ICU.
The pilot program plans to enroll up to four more students in August 2012.