The University of Louisiana at Lafayette may soon be offering a new cardiovascular nursing certification program that would make students and the hospitals that hire them even more desirable.

The new graduate certificate in cardiovascular nursing was approved by the University of Louisiana System on Oct. 25 and will be considered by the Louisiana Board of Regents on Dec. 12. If approved, it will be the first program of its kind in Louisiana and one of a few in the country.

It will start in the Spring 2019 semester but already has a dozen students projected to enroll.

"There are very few opportunities to pursue coursework in graduate cardiovascular nursing," said Melinda Oberleitner, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. “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.”

Similar programs can only be found at Duke University, the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and the University of South Alabama. 

Not only will the students benefit from having this certification when job hunting, but local hospitals would also benefit from having them as employees. Renee Delahoussaye, the assistant chief nursing officer at Lafayette General Medical Center, having these accredited nurses on staff would enhance their cardiology program and help set them apart from other hospitals.

"Their advanced cardiovascular knowledge will enhance our cardiology program," Delahoussaye said. "As we collaborate with our local cardiologists, nurse practitioners with a focus on cardiovascular nursing services will definitely set these local nurse practitioner students apart as cardiovascular disease is very prevalent in the patient population we serve."

Delahoussaye said the certification will help students, hospitals and, most importantly, the patients. It will allow these nurses to help identify potential life-threatening cardiovascular disease so treatment can begin sooner rather than later.

The program will be geared toward nurse practitioners who are APRNs, advanced practice registered nurse, or those who have earned a master’s degree.

The program will require completion of 12 credit hours in three consecutive accelerated sessions during the spring, summer intercession and summer semesters. Eight of the 12 credit hours will be online courses, and the college will collaborate with medical professions in other states to provide outlets for clinical experience for online, out-of-state students.

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