UofL School of Nursing partners with University Hospital and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare to develop acute care nurse practitioner program


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In an effort to meet the growing local demand for acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs) in the hospital setting, the University of Louisville School of Nursing will add the acute care NP major to its list of master’s level programs. University of Louisville Hospital (ULH) and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare (JHSMH) are helping in the initial funding to hire faculty that will develop the curriculum and teach the courses beginning in Fall 2012.

    “Although the UofL School of Nursing has a strong history in offering master’s nurse practitioner majors in primary care, the need for hospital acute care NPs is crucial with so many patients who are acutely ill with complex diseases and conditions,” said Marcia Hern, EdD, CNS, RN, dean, UofL School of Nursing. “Working as a full partner with physicians, NPs are a valuable asset in health care.”

    “Our physician colleagues are asking for these positions,” said Cheryl Fugatte, chief nursing officer, JHSMH. “Acute care nurse practitioners are desperately needed and I thank Marcia Hern for coming to the table to see how we could partner together to make this program possible.”

    “Nurse practitioners are now an integral part of our acute care surgical teams, from trauma to general surgery and surgical specialties. Nurse practitioners greatly improve the quality of health care, facilitating better communication with patients and families, rapid response to patient needs, and coordinating post-hospital care,” said Kelly McMasters, MD, PhD, chair, UofL School of Medicine Department of Surgery.

    According to University of Louisville Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Mary Jane Adams, there are too few local advanced practice registered nurses trained in acute care. Many are primary care NPs who have received on-the-job-training in the hospital setting or critical area. Acute nurse practitioners are essential for a level I trauma center at ULH and complicated cardio thoracic surgeries at JHSMH, she said.

    “We wanted to partner with UofL in order to have a pipeline to train nurses interested in an advanced degree, and then recruit them to meet a need in the hospital. Many of our nurses are eager to advance their careers with this major,” Adams said.

    Jodie Hignite, MSN, APRN, ACNP, was recently hired to begin developing the curriculum for the program. She will serve as the track coordinator for the new major. Hignite also works as an acute care nurse practitioner for the Department of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Critical Care at Kosair Children’s Hospital, and she agrees with Adams.

    “It is very important for advanced practice registered nurses to work the clinical portion of their program in the area where they want to specialize. Otherwise, it can be a very difficult transition with a significant learning curve if nurses seeking advanced degrees focus their clinical effort outside a hospital, then decide to pursue work in acute care,” Hignite said.

    The UofL School of Nursing plans to launch the new acute care nurse practitioner Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Fall 2012. Students interested in the program may apply in the Spring before April 1. For more information, call 502-852-5825 and ask for Trish Hart, trish.hart@louisville.edu, director of student services, or Lee Ridner, PhD, lee.ridner@louisville.edu, acting associate dean of graduate programs.

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.