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Belmont Expands Doctoral Program for Nurses

Belmont University School of Nursing announced today an expansion of its degree program for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to support national efforts to increase the number of nurse professionals prepared for advanced practice and leadership in the healthcare industry. The School is now accepting applications for fall enrollment to a BSN-to-DNP program which provides a direct pathway to the doctoral degree for registered nurses (RNs) who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The new program will prepare students for advanced practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) following three years of full-time study offered in a format friendly to working professionals.

Nursing has joined many other health professions—such as medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology and dentistry—to establish a practice doctorate following completion of the bachelor’s degree. Many national studies and reports have led nursing accrediting bodies to move toward this degree to help meet the demands created by the increasing complexities of health care, serious concerns with safety and quality in patient care and the changing landscape of healthcare reform.

“We believe the DNP will be the education necessary for future practice in the advanced role,” said Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean for nursing in Belmont’s Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing. “This program will open doors in nursing practice, policy. and education that will become increasingly evident in the years ahead.”

Belmont previously initiated the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a post-master’s DNP offered to nurse practitioners who had already attained a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). This two-year program is offered in a unique format allowing working professionals from across the U.S. to complete the DNP and will continue as an option for individuals already certified as nurse practitioners.

The School will also continue to offer a master’s degree program preparing RNs for advanced practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner. “At some point soon the DNP will be the exclusive option to prepare for advanced practice,” said Dr. Leslie Higgins, director of graduate studies in nursing at Belmont, “but until then, we will continue to meet the needs of nurses who want to complete their advanced degree at the master’s level.”

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Belmont University School of Nursing Celebrates 40th Anniversary

The College of Health Sciences & Nursing celebrated the 40th anniversary of Belmont’s nursing program this fall. Since its inception, Belmont’s program has produced more than 2,000 skilled nurses who have served patients throughout the United States and around the world.

“This is an exciting time for nursing and especially for nursing at Belmont,” said College of Health Sciences & Nursing Dean Cathy R. Taylor. “Belmont nurses have always been known as leaders, highly respected for their skill and patient-centered focus. Today, they are increasingly recognized as innovators and change agents for improving health care quality, access and value. We are indeed honored to celebrate and build upon such a remarkable legacy of excellence to meet the health care challenges ahead.”

Associate Dean of Nursing Martha Buckner said, “We are so pleased to be celebrating this milestone in Belmont’s history. Our graduates have forged a tremendous reputation for this program. They are caring professional nurses whose practice is characterized by clinical excellence and compassion. We are proud of our heritage and excited about our future.”

The School of Nursing, Office of Alumni Relations and Omicron Phi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing held a program in November to commemorate the 40th anniversary with a panel discussion of nursing executives on The Future of Nursing in the Era of Health Care Reform. Panelists included Vanderbilt University Medical Center Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree and Middle Tennessee Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Kelly Miles. (more…)

President of Tennessee Hospital Association Discusses Future of Healthcare

Craig Becker, president of the Tennessee Hospital Association, spoke to Belmont faculty and students last week about the future of the healthcare industry, focusing his remarks on the new changes that will be brought about by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

While he realizes that the healthcare industry is about to undergo radical change, he does not fear those changes. “I really am an optimist,” he stated. “And I’m invigorated by chaos. Chaos brings change.”

Craig Becker spoke to students and faculty in the Frist Lecture Hall, located on the fourth floor of the Gordan E. Inman Center.

In the past, he argued that the existing system was not perfect, that there were quality of care issues. The new legislation will force the industry to address these issues sooner rather than later. “Hospitals will be forced to look outside of their four walls.”

He predicts that within the next several years, Tennessee will see a significant decline in its number of hospitals. At present, there are 154 in the state of Tennessee; approximately, 70 to 77 of those are rural hospitals. Becker believes that in five to ten years, there will be only 90 hospitals statewide. Rural hospitals will have to actively seek partnerships with the larger organizations.

In many parts of the state, the rural hospitals are centers of community. Closing them poses a challenge as is it will draw a lot of community resistance, he explained. However, he believes that there is a silver lining. “With this change comes a move away from fee-for-service,” he said.

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School of Physical Therapy Joins Vanderbilt University Medical Center to Offer Residency Program

The School of Physical Therapy at Belmont University has joined with the Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute (PBPRI) in the Vanderbilt Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences to initiate a Neurological Physical Therapy Clinical Residency.

PBPRI is the outpatient interdisciplinary neurological rehabilitation program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where physical therapists work in teams with colleagues in occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and social work to promote community re-entry and vocational and/or academic transitioning. The one-year residency is offered through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and is the first of its kindin Tennessee. The program is designed to prepare the resident to treat patients with neurological conditions using contemporary, evidenced-based treatment approaches and provide the skills and experience needed to sit for the Neurological Clinical Specialist (NCS) certification exam with APTA.

“We are very excited about this new partnership,” said Mike de Riesthal, director of PBPRI. “Education of new clinicians is one of our primary missions. Partnering with Belmont’s excellent program allows us to expand that mission into the field of physical therapy.”

Christina Durrough has been selected as the inaugural resident in the joint venture and will begin her work this August. The residency requires direct clinical care each week at PBPRI where Durrough will receive mentoring and instruction to evaluate and treat patients with acquired brain injury and other neurological conditions including stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors and balance disorders. The Clinical Residency Director for the program is Lisa Haack, who is a clinical staff member in physical therapy at PBPRI and is a neurologic specialist. Renee Brown, professor of physical therapy at Belmont University, will serve as the academic residency director. (more…)

Students Receive ‘Year’s Worth of Nursing in a Week’ in Haiti

Last month a group of Belmont faculty, staff and students took the opportunity to bring their skills and expertise “from here to Haiti.” On July 18, the group left Nashville for a week-long mission trip to Grand Goave, one of Haiti’s oldest cities, which suffered significant damage in the 2010 earthquake in that region. The trip evolved out of a task force created by the provost; Belmont has recently developed a partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which has a mission project in Haiti. This nursing trip was the first to take advantage of this partnership. In the future, the interdisciplinary task force hopes to organize trips for students in several other programs. One education-based trip is already slated for later this month.

Senior Nursing students Charly Hood (right) and Reiley Heaberlin (left) tend to a baby at one of the mobile clinics.

Each day, the group was woken up by a rooster—lovingly nicknamed “El Diablo”—at approximately 3:30 a.m. “That bird was the bane of our existence,” claimed Assistant Professor of Nursing Sara Camp. They would then—after languishing in the heat for several more hours—meet with their contact, Judy, who is also a registered nurse and represents the Christian Baptist Fellowship.

The nursing students volunteered at a number of mobile clinics, which provided basic services such as vital sign checks and general diagnoses. Each clinic was able to see up to 50 people a day, and each day the staff and students quickly met their capacity. “This is their healthcare,” said Nursing Instructor Martha Ezell. “They can’t just go into Port Au Prince to see a doctor.”At the mobile clinics, the students checked vitals and compiled patients’ medical histories—a difficult task since many patients did not even know their own birthdays. The Belmont students were also able to assist Ezell and Camp with general assessments and distribute what medications were available. “[The Belmont students] got about a year’s worth of nursing in a week,” stated Ezell. (more…)

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