Postgraduate fellowship education and training for nurses: The NET SMART Experience

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Graduate nursing education prepares nurses for entry into advanced practice nursing (APN) roles, such as nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and nurse practitioner (NP). Knowledge and skills acquired through formal graduate education provide a foundation for entry into these new roles yet are insufficient to support the significant degree of specialization often expected within the practice sector. To further development and specialization in practice after graduation, nurses have relied on a variety of strategies, including conference attendance, reading professional publications, and nonstandardized mentoring by physician specialists or, in some cases, highly experienced APNs who were originally mentored by physicians. Although these methods are effective, they fail to standardize learning content, vary in their ability to measure knowledge and skill integration, and are often highly dependent on the expertise and individual initiative of mentors and mentees. The Neurovascular Education and Training in Stroke Management and Acute Reperfusion Therapy (NET SMART) APN program offers a first-of-its-kind, academic, postgraduate, fellowship program for APNs that is modeled after physician academic fellowship programs but supported by a flexible Internet-based platform. This article details the rationale, methods, and preliminary results of the NET SMART APN experience, which serves as a unique template for the development of academic postgraduate nursing fellowship programs across a variety of specialty practices.

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Journal Article

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