SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 5, 2020) — COVID-19 has underscored the need for more Emergency Nurse Practitioners (ENP) in the state. But even before the pandemic, that sent thousands of patients to emergency rooms in the state, there was a critical need for more highly trained ENPs in rural areas of South and West Texas.
To help meet this need, UT Health San Antonio has partnered with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), to expand the Houston university’s ENP program to San Antonio and Southwest Texas.
“UTHealth Houston was the first in the nation to develop an ENP program and offers the only ENP program in Texas. The program has trained more than 600 emergency nurse practitioners. UT Health in Houston has been wanting to expand their program for some time in order to make it more widely available throughout the state,” said Bradley Goettl, DNP, RN, a certified family nurse practitioner and ENP who is leading the new program in UT Health San Antonio’s School of Nursing. Dr. Goettl is also a faculty member in the Department of Emergency Medicine, part of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.
“Our initial goal was to start providing training opportunities and clinical rotations in the San Antonio region. Long-term, our plan is to develop our own program that will mirror Houston’s. This unique partnership will allow us to share faculty, strengthen both programs and plan for the future,” Dr. Goettl said.
ENPs work as part of the health care team providing care for patients throughout the lifespan. “They are family nurse practitioners who go on to obtain specialized emergency training in a formal program that allows them to manage illnesses and injuries that need immediate attention,” Dr. Goettl said. They usually work in urgent care facilities or emergency departments. Some ENPs work in unique environments, like pre-hospital emergency services or correctional facilities.
The strategic partnership is funded by a two-year, $1 million training grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The grant will support delivery of the curriculum in San Antonio and provide ENP students with some financial support while they complete their clinical requirements.
The one-year post-graduate program includes a combination of in-person and online classes, simulation and clinical rotations. Students will receive specialized training in emergency and resuscitative care, including management of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. “Students will learn how to manage emergency patients and perform advanced procedures through our School of Nursing’s Center for Simulation Innovation. The program will provide opportunities for interprofessional education,” Dr. Goettl said.
Prior to the expansion, all students were required to report periodically to Houston for group coursework and clinical training. Expanding to UT Health San Antonio reduces the travel burden for students who live and work in South and West Texas and opens the door to clinical rotations near students’ homes.
“The program has positively affected patient outcomes throughout the State of Texas, and by expanding to San Antonio, we are able to prepare more emergency nurse practitioners to serve their communities,” said Elda Ramirez, PhD, ENP-C, professor of nursing and head of the emergency/trauma nurse practitioner program in the Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth in Houston. Both she and Dr. Goettl will have joint appointments at both universities as the program gets underway.
The educators have already established affiliation agreements with local hospitals and health care systems, including University Hospital, part of University Health System, which has a Level 1 trauma center and is one of UT Health San Antonio’s clinical partners.
Since the partnership started, several students have completed clinical rotations at University Hospital. The San Antonio program plans to accept its first cohort of students in 2021.
“This type of training is essential for nurse practitioners working in emergency settings,” said Ralph Riviello, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine.
The program prepares graduates to take the Emergency Nurse Practitioner certifying exam through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP).
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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, also referred to as UT Health San Antonio, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities and is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. With missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have graduated more than 37,000 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.