Online Doctor of Nursing Propels NP Career
Kyle Lavergne had spent years leading projects to improve practices and patient care when he realized he could channel those inclinations to earn his terminal degree.
Through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice, he’s deepened his knowledge of evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership, and has found new professional opportunities.
Lavergne earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from UL Lafayette in 2002.
After earning his MSN degree in 2007 and becoming a nurse practitioner, Lavergne spent several years in primary care before joining the Cardiovascular Institute of the South.
Once there, Lavergne worked with UL Lafayette MSN alum Marcus Montet to develop the system’s virtual care center, which includes 24/7 patient telemetry monitoring, telecardiology care, and remote patient monitoring. As he worked with more physicians and hospital staff, he says that it became clear that nurse practitioners needed more advanced education to work in a specialized cardiology role.
Because UL Lafayette is a leader in nursing education, it was clear that a partnership between the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Cardiovascular Institute of the South could create a solution to prepare nurse practitioners for a career in cardiology. The two organizations worked together to develop the Graduate Certificate in Cardiovascular Nursing.
As Lavergne took part in conversations to address the industry need for more specialized nurse practitioners, he found himself talking with graduate faculty about his own practice and experiences.
“They said, ‘Well, what you’re doing, is DNP work,’” Lavergne says. “I always had an idea about the DNP, but I didn’t know if I wanted to go back to school.”
After his first semester, Lavergne says, he was in love.
"As a nurse practitioner, we’re trained to care for the individual patient. As a DNP student, we learn to look at the population,” Lavergne says. “It’s looking at population heath, policy change, and incorporating DNPs in leadership roles. With these skills, we’ll have a major positive impact on changes in healthcare.”
One of the ways Lavergne is looking to make an impact is through his synthesis project, Smoking Cessation: An evaluation of a structured program using telemedicine. That program is a new multi-modality program to help people quit smoking. Lavergne says he’s seen very positive outcomes in patients' smoking cessation rates so far.
Lavergne has been able to develop his synthesis project in conjunction with the Cardiovascular Institute of the South. He says he appreciates how the organization opened its doors to provide preceptors to aid students in developing their research.
Still, he says, managing a full-time job, online coursework, and relationships with his wife and three daughters has required diligence and organization.
“You have to get very organized and use a planner or calendar to outline when projects are due,” he says. “If I had a four-part paper, I would start a month before it was due and do one part per week. Each week, I’d set a goal of what I needed to do.
“I can’t write a well-researched paper in 24 hours.”
Lavergne says having a cohort has meant creating close-knit bonds with other nursing professionals, as well as professors.
“It’s all about relationships. The faculty know all about us and are very respectful that everyone has to work and has family,” he says. “If you’re going to have a problem meeting a deadline, there's a rule of thumb in the DNP program: ask for permission, not beg for forgiveness. Deadlines are important.”
Lavergne was also able to connect with DNP students at different phases in the degree program to learn from their experience and perspective.
One of those connections led Lavergne to a new opportunity as clinical program coordinator for LHC Group.
"This DNP program is training me for this new and exciting endeavor,” Lavergne says. “Being close to the end has opened many avenues that I did not know existed. It has brought me to the next level in professional development.”
Further your career and your practice through UL Lafayette’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice program. BSN to DNP cohorts are admitted each Spring, and Post-MSN cohorts start courses each Fall. Request more information today!