New Nursing Program Aims to Help Critically-Ill Children

(From left) Esquibel, Priscila Reid, and Julia Kuzin, recurrent faculty members for the new AC-PNP track.

(From left) Esquibel, Priscila Reid, and Julia Kuzin, recurrent faculty members for the new AC-PNP track.

The School of Nursing recently notified the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board of its intention to launch an Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (AC-PNP) Track. The first class of up to six students will begin this fall. The fall application deadline is April 1.

“The Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Track was added to the School of Nursing's curriculum in response to a growing need for nurse practitioners who specialize in caring for infants, children and adolescents with complex acute and critical health conditions,” said Karen Esquibel, Ph.D., R.N., CPNP-PC, associate professor and director of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Studies. “We see an increased need across the state and nation and have realized the opportunity to meet the need for APRN education.”

AC-PNPs work in settings like emergency departments, hospitals, subspecialty clinics and intensive care units. They are responsible for coordinating with other health care providers, patients and families to minimize complications and provide physical and psychological treatment and improve quality of life.

“The demand for AC-PNPs is increasing nationwide and in Texas,” said Emily Merrill, Ph.D., R.N., FNP, BC, CNE, FAANP, professor and department chair for APRN Program, and The CH Foundation Endowed Professorship in APRN Studies. “In a recent survey of pediatric subspecialists, more than 40 percent of the physicians responded that they plan to increase the number of NPs in their practices in the next five years. There are currently less than 25 AC-PNP programs in the U.S. and these are disproportionately distributed throughout the nation. Experts in the AC-PNP field call for creative solutions including collaboration and partnerships. Our program will include excellent clinical experiences in children’s hospitals, the use of advanced simulation and expert faculty to provide a high quality education for AC-PNPs.”

The program is available to students on all TTUHSC campuses and completed online with intermittent campus visits for clinical courses. Students will complete clinical rotations in emergency rooms, pediatric intensive care units, pediatric floors, fast-track emergency rooms, primary care clinics and Level II neonatal intensive care units in appropriate health care institutions.

There were more than 9,700 nurse practitioners working in Texas in 2011, according to the American Journal for Nurse Practitioners. The School of Nursing graduated 133 nurse practitioners in 2013. An estimated 135 students will graduate from all of TTUHSC’s nurse practitioner programs in August.

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