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UA College of Nursing Telehealth Training Program Receives Wide Recognition and Approval for Graduate Certificate in Nursing Rural Telehealth

In May 2017, the University of Arizona College of Nursing launched a telehealth training program for students seeking advanced degrees as doctors of nursing practice. 

The "Using 21st Century Technology for NP Student-Patient Interview and Interprofessional Care Coordination" project, initially funded with a Graduate Nursing Education Grant of $26,000 from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was developed by UA nursing professors Rene Love, PhD, DNP; Jane Carrington, PhD, RN. It was, and apparently still is, the first and only telehealth education program designed for student nurses pursuing doctor of nursing practice degrees, despite the fact that more than half of U.S. hospitals have telemedicine programs, and their numbers continue to grow. 

At the start, Drs. Carrington and Love set a goal of enrolling 75 of the nursing college's doctor of nursing practice (DNP) students in the project. By late August that year, they had enrolled more than 80 students. And as of today, approximately 200 DNP students have completed the telehealth training. 

The need for the training program was obvious to these faculty -- and the students -- especially in Arizona, where miles and miles of rural roads and highways often separate residents from the healthcare services they need. 

Paul Krogue, who is training to be an acute-care nurse practitioner in Montana, initially thought he would prefer a face-to-face encounter instead of telehealth. But after visiting with a patient via telehealth, he said, "I very quickly forgot about the physical distance and felt I was acting in a meaningful way with a patient who was in need of medical care."

Word of the telehealth training program spread, and in July 2018, Drs. Love and Carrington were invited to Melbourne, Australia, to present their training program at the conference of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing,the second-largest nursing organization in the world, with 135,000 active members. 

Their project ties in with the College of Nursing's focus on rural health education, including its Rural Health Professions Program RHPP), led by clinical assistant professor Christy Pacheco, DNP-FNP-BC. Two other UA-based programs: the nationally renowned Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), at the UA College of Medicine, and the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (SWTRC), an affiliate of the ATP that provides assistance and information to organizations wanting to develop their own telehealth programs are potential sources of collaboration.

In any case, it's a program with a bright future. Earlier this month, Jeffrey B. Goldberg, UA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, notified the College of Nursing that its "Graduate Certificate in Nursing Rural Telehealth," has been approved, and will be active starting in Fall 2019. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is funding the graduate certificate program with $146,000. 

Dr. Allen Prettyman, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, specialty coordinator for the College of Nursing's Community and Systems Health Science program, was project leader for the initial phase of the Nursing Rural Telehealth certificate program. "The certificate will appear on students' official transcripts," Dr. Prettyman said, and it can be added to their CV, thus demonstrating a level of knowledge in this area that exceeds expectations."

About the Author

Jane Erikson's picture

Jane Erikson joined the staff of the Arizona Telemedicine Program in April 2013. She was already familiar with the program, as she previously wrote about the program during her nearly 20 years of covering health care for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. Jane has lived in Arizona most of her life and is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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