A total of 1,786 degrees were awarded during the UL Lafayette’s 161st Commencement ceremonies Friday at the Cajundome and Convention Center.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions is one step closer to offering a graduate certificate program for nurse practitioners who want to specialize in heart-related health care.
UL Lafayette’s graduate certificate in cardiovascular nursing was approved by the University of Louisiana System on Thursday. The program will be considered by the Louisiana Board of Regents on Wednesday, Dec. 12.
If approved, it will be the first of its kind in the state. It will also be one of only a handful in the country, said Dr. Melinda Oberleitner, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.
“There are very few opportunities to pursue coursework in graduate cardiovascular nursing. Duke University has a graduate specialty program. The Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers a fellowship. The nearest program to Louisiana is at the University of South Alabama,” she said.
UL Lafayette’s program will be geared toward nurse practitioners who are APRNs, or those who have earned a master’s degree. The acronym stands for advanced practice registered nurse.
Applicants who have graduated from or who are enrolled in a family nurse practitioner program, an adult gerontology nursing program, or an acute care nursing program will also be eligible.
Cardiovascular nurse practitioners work with cardiologists to help diagnose and treat heart-related medical conditions, including angina, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and hypertension.
If approved, the graduate certificate program will begin in the spring with a projected cohort of about a dozen students.
They will complete 12 credit hours in three consecutive accelerated sessions – a half term in the spring, a summer intercession and a summer semester.
The program will consist of eight credit hours of online instruction.
Students will complete four credit hours of clinical work under the supervision of a physician, or a nurse practitioner with cardiology experience. They will work with a range of diagnostic equipment and processes, including telecardiology, which employs robotics to enable remote diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
Students will also compile patient information to develop medical histories and create health care plans based on medical, psychological and socioeconomic factors.
The program is designed to meet a growing need, Oberleitner said.
“An aging population – coupled with the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. – has increased demand for cardiovascular medical care,” she explained.
Since the instruction portion of the program will be completed online, the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions will collaborate with medical professionals in other states to provide outlets for clinical experience.
“Students from other places will be able to enroll, provided they meet University admission requirements,” Oberleitner said.