Feature | Creating the Mayo Clinic's Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Program

Cardiology Magazine ImageGarrow pictured with her co-fellow Norrie Brice, ACNP.

Mayo Clinic's Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner (NP) Program was recently accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as one of only four Practice Transition Programs and only one of two that addresses advanced practice nursing. The driving force behind the this program is one of ACC's Cardiovascular Team members, Marci Farquhar-Snow MN, ACNP-BC, CCRN, CMC, AACC.

The cardiovascular NP program was conceptualized in 2005 and underwent three years of revisions and resubmissions before receiving full approval by Mayo Clinic leadership and medical staff. Since acceptance of the first NP fellow in 2009, a total of nine fellows have successfully completed the program.

The fellowship itself is a 12-month advanced training program that provides structured clinical experiences in all aspects of inpatient and outpatient cardiovascular nursing. Continuous self-assessment of the program by the program director, preceptors and leadership ensures the ongoing effectiveness of the program. A needs assessment is completed before and after each fellowship. This competitive program requires highly motivated NPs to dedicate 100 percent of their time to the fellowship.

When asked why she felt this program was necessary, Farquhar-Snow stated that her experience as an educator, preceptor and mentor led her to conclude that the nursing training varied widely across universities and that post-graduate experience, especially in cardiovascular nursing, also differed significantly. A need for a standardized model to train the next generation of nurses was apparent. She felt that consistent training, structure and mentorship – similar to that of our physician colleagues – was needed in nursing as well. Challenges arose due to the novelty of this concept and the lack of outcomes and competencies for NP post-graduate training.

As a result of the ANCC 'Practice Transitions Accreditation Program' certification, Farquhar-Snow says future employers – whether hospitals or cardiology practices – can be assured the fellows who graduate from this program will have received a high standard of training on current cardiology practice. According to the ANCC, the "Practice Transition Accreditation Program sets the global standard for hospital residency or fellowship programs that transition registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses into new practice settings."

Farquhar-Snow hopes to expand this model for cardiovascular advance practice nursing training and competency standards. Additionally, she hopes the Mayo Clinic's cardiovascular NP program experience will validate both the need and the success of cardiovascular NP training programs.

Jennifer Garrow, ANP at Mayo Clinic Arizona, was accepted into the second cohort of the fellowship and spent a rigorous year learning about the field of cardiology as well as how to transition into a solid provider.

"The program director sets high standards for evidence-based practice, professional advancement and becoming a role model for other NPs," says Garrow. "Since my fellowship, I have had the opportunity to present at national and international conferences – opportunities which would have been very unlikely for me without my mentorship during that year. I am so pleased that this program, now accredited, will allow other cardiovascular NPs to have these opportunities whilst beginning their careers."

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This post was authored by Debbie Croy, DNP, AACC, chair of the Cardiovascular Team Section Communication Work Group.