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New partnerships and tech expand nurse practitioner students’ skills

Every year, the adult gerontology nurse practitioner summer intensive includes new elements to keep the graduate-level coursework modern and relevant. Sessions also feature new guest lecturers and area specialists who broaden students’ horizons with a wide scope of expertises.

Three nurse practitioner students gather around a table as a faculty supervises their joint injection practice on a manikin.
As pictured here, nurse practitioner students also learned to administer joint injections during the summer intensive session.

This year’s inaugural ultrasound workshop does both, introducing new technology and a new lecturer through two first-time partnerships.

Ultra-useful technology and regional cooperation

Thanks to a collaboration with the Athletics and Kinesiology departments, students learned to use ultrasound technology for the first time this year. The ultrasound unit is owned cooperatively by Athletics and the Masters of Athletic Training program in Kinesiology.

“The unit serves a dual purpose in our areas,” said Dave Hammons, associate professor and director of the Athletic Training program. “It is used to assist athletic trainers in the Athletic Department formulating certain diagnoses with certain athletic related injuries or conditions, and we use it as an educational tool in classes.”

Ultrasound technology is a versatile tool. This year, nurse practitioner students utilized it in a workshop on placing central lines. Guest instructor Joshua Johnson joined the intensive instructor lineup this year teaching nurse practitioner students a workshop titled “Ultrasound-guided vascular access.”

Not only did this course reflect interdepartmental cooperation, but it also modeled regional partnership. Johnson came to Boise State from the WWAMI Regional Medical Education Program where he is a faculty instructor and a doctoral candidate at the University of Idaho. His emphasis is point-of-care ultrasound, and last year he helped develop a point-of-care ultrasound course for WWAMI medical students.

Appreciating being in-person

The adult gerontology nurse practitioner program offers a primarily-online graduate education. But once a year the cohorts gather on-campus for an intensive session, allowing them to connect in person with peers and faculty. Students attend lectures and practice hands-on skills like suturing, intubating and casting.

Nurse practitioner students practice putting casts on people's arms who sit around a table.
The summer intensive sessions are all-hands-on-deck events for the School of Nursing. Here, various faculty and staff volunteered their arms so students could practice casting.

“It’s great to be in person,” first-year student Cara Nyborg said. For her, the best part was connecting face-to-face with her professors and building relationships with her peers. “It’s fun getting to know all the different people, where they’re from and their backgrounds. It’s just so cool to listen to people’s stories.”

Nyborg is a longtime Bronco. She first earned her Licensed Practical Nurse certification from Boise State before continuing to earn both her associates and bachelor’s degrees in nursing here, too.

“I love learning new things, which I think is why I’ve been a lifetime student,” Nyborg said. “I always knew that I’d want to be a nurse practitioner…since I’ve gotten much of my education here, this seems like the appropriate place to get my nurse practitioner education.”

“I’m so glad that I’m doing it,” Nyborg said.

A variety of experiences

Two nurse practitioner students wear PPE and use scalpels during a practice session.
Nurse practitioner students learn various hands-on skills, like incision and drainage pictured here, during summer intensives.

Other elements of the intensive session include a social – to encourage cohort cohesion and allow time for peers and faculty to mingle outside of class – and a service project. This year, students in their third year of the program spent several hours serving at the Interfaith Sanctuary.

Nyborg enjoyed the variety of learning opportunities offered this year, and she looks forward to new and different challenges in the coming years of her nurse practitioner education.

“[The intensive] is a good experience,” she said. “Knowing that we’re going to come back and that we get to do this again, it’s kind of like our jumping off point for us to say, ‘Yeah, we are on our way to our goal.’”

Learn more about the program