The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing has established two new graduate nurse practitioner programs to help alleviate the critical shortage of acute care pediatric and neonatal nurses.
The school is partnering with Dell Children's Hospital and Pediatrix Medical Group to teach and train more students in these areas. Dell Children's Hospital is providing two acute care pediatric nurse practitioner faculty members for the school. Pediatrix, a private practice group of neonatologists that contracts with hospitals nationwide to provide medical care to critically ill babies, is providing salary support.
The Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program begins this summer. The new role was established in response to the need for more acute care pediatric providers within hospitals and specialized pediatric health care clinics, including emergency rooms. The Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program, designed to train nurses to care for a rapidly growing group of high-risk infants, specifically those born prematurely and those newborns suffering from life-threatening illnesses, will begin in the fall.
"Similar to acute care pediatric nurse practitioners, the demand for neonatal nurse practitioners has grown steadily over the past few decades due, in part, to rapid technological advancements in neonatal care and increased survival of more preterm babies," said Marlene Walden, professor of clinical nursing. "There are about 500-800 position openings for neonatal nurse practitioners across the United States and several locally."
Both new acute care programs at the School of Nursing can be completed in less than two years for those nurses seeking a master's degree. Students who already have a master's degree and want to extend their professional credentials can complete the program in about one year.