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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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Coworkers Give Albracht Strength Through Adversity

It began with a cough around the time of Nashville’s 2010 historic flood. For the next two years, doctors poked and prodded Investigations & Special Initiatives Major Renee Albracht. Treatment for allergies, asthma and a stomach bug proved unsuccessful until she saw a hematologist and spent a week in the hospital in June.

“I found out it was Hodgkin’s stage four, and I was elated to have an answer,” Albracht said through a smile.

Speaking about cancer with laughter, Albracht credits her great strength and resilience to the support of her coworkers.

“It has been a challenge because I am independent,” she said. “I quickly had to learn how to depend on other people and let them take care of me. I see this as my ministry. I have learned a lot about what’s important and what matters in life.”

The night before Albracht had her hair cut, Campus Security Major Mike Pruitt handed his clippers to her. She cut Pruitt’s hair as well as her dad’s hair into a low buzz, and the men then razor shaved their heads bald.

“It was in support of her and what she is going through to give her strength. Renee had a ball,” Pruitt said. Several other officers also shaved their heads bald, including Chief of Campus Security Terry White, who has kept up his cut since the summer. “The next day she said that it meant a lot, and it was a lot easier seeing everyone else looking like that.” (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…)

Belmont Opens Admissions for New Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

Post-MSN to DNP program offers two-year online/weekend hybrid curriculum
Belmont University’s Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing recently announced the start of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Open to nurse practitioners who have already attained a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), the two-year post-MSN to DNP degree offers a flexible online/weekend hybrid curriculum to allow working nurse practitioners to complete their doctorates while maintaining full-time positions. The two-year program is accepting applications now with the first classes scheduled to begin fall 2012.

Dr. Leslie Higgins, a Belmont nursing professor and the director of the graduate studies in nursing program, said, “This new DNP builds on the already established excellence of a Belmont nursing education—in fact, this year the program is celebrating its 40th anniversary. By providing a practice doctorate, we will prepare skilled nurse practitioners to have an immediate impact on their communities, allowing them to apply current research to problems and to implement practical solutions across entire systems.”

Currently, 182 DNP programs exist in the United States, with Belmont offering one of only four Tennessee-based programs. The new program represents Belmont’s fifth doctoral level degree in addition to occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy and law.

Belmont’s School of Nursing receives applications for admission exclusively through the Nursing Central Application Service (NursingCAS), provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).  Applications must be submitted through the NursingCAS system by May 1, 2012 for consideration for fall 2012 admission.

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Nursing, Pharmacy Students Participate in Healthcare Interprofessional Case Competition

2012 ICCP Winning Team

Four health science students from Belmont University–three from the School of Nursing and one from the College of Pharmacy–competed last week in the annual Interprofessional Case Competition (ICC) sponsored by the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance in Nashville.

The four students–Danielle Degati, Katherine H. McFarland and Courtney Thompson representing RN nursing and Shanna Harris representing pharmacy–were placed on teams joining pre-professionals from 10 different healthcare disciplines. Other team members included medical and dental students from Meharry Medical College; students from medical, nurse practitioner, law, dietetic, divinity, and speech and hearing pathology programs at Vanderbilt University; and pharmacy and graduate social work students from the University of Tennessee.

Nursing major Danielle Degati, a senior, said, “I think the greatest part of this competition is feeling like I can say that I now understand how multi-disciplines work together to accomplish one goal… It has been eye opening, and I feel comfortable approaching other health care professionals in the hospital, not just nurses; without this experience, I’m not sure that comfort would have come to me so soon.”

The competition, based on the University of Texas Houston model, promotes an interdisciplinary learning experience where students learn to appreciate the value of various team members involved in reaching optimal patient outcomes.  There were three interdisciplinary student teams, each with 11 student participants.

Senior nursing student Courtney Thompson noted, “Participating in the ICCC has given me a better comprehensive view of how in depth patient-centered care goes. It is complex physiologically, emotionally, spiritually and cognitively and one person could not offer the knowledge or manpower to completely care for any patient. I am very proud to have had this experience because I have learned so much about other disciplines and because I have also learned how I work as a team member. I am sure these lessons  will be invaluable assets I can use throughout my career.”

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