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Liberty News

Nursing adds new certificate program this fall

July 19, 2012 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University’s new Maternal-Child Critical Care Certificate Program through the Department of Nursing gives students with a passion for critical care of mothers and babies increased knowledge that will strengthen their skillset as they enter the field.  

The department ran a pilot course in the Spring 2012 semester with eight students. Three of those students were offered jobs from their clinical work at the University of Virginia Health System. The program officially opens this fall and expects six students. The spring 2013 class already is filled to its 12-student capacity and has a waiting list.

Liberty University Department of Nursing's Critical Care Certificate Program serves as a model for the new Maternal-Child Critical Care Certificate Program launching this fall.

Mary Highton, assistant professor of nursing and the maternal-child coordinator, said the course should give students hoping to work in critical care an advantage because they will already have certificates in certain programs they will eventually need when they become nurses.

“It kind of puts them ahead of the game,” she said. “Most of these students are very assertive, they are critical-thinking nurses. (The course) just meets their appetite for more education and information.”

The course features many speakers who work or have worked in the field and certifies the students in Pediatric Advanced Life Support with the option for additional certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Neonatal Resuscitation Program.

Though the academic rigor of Liberty’s nursing department alone is challenging enough, students of the new certificate program log an extra 144 clinical hours on top of their required clinicals.

For Highton, leading this class is more than just a teaching opportunity; it is a chance for her to train students who share her interests.

“Critical care is my passion, my love. … They have that same passion, too, so it is nice to be able share, and teach and watch them grow in that critical care area,” she said.

The program is modeled after the university’s Critical Care Certificate Program that started about five years ago to accommodate students interested in any form of critical or emergency care. The program was initially offered to 12 students and now welcomes up to 18 each semester, and is usually filled to capacity.

Both certificate programs are unique in that few, if any, of this kind exist at other institutions, according to the Critical Care Certificate Program Manager Shanna Akers, assistant professor of nursing and director of the RN-BSN online program.

In addition to the increased clinical hours, students wishing to take either certificate program must undergo an application and interview process to be accepted, as well as maintain a B average and take the prerequisite critical care class (NURS 460).

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