June 27, 2017

Elms doctor of nursing practice graduate to present paper at international conference

Staff report 

(IObserve photo/courtesy of Elms College)

CHICOPEE – Grace Lavalley, of Belchertown, who earned her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree in the inaugural DNP class at Elms College, has had a paper accepted to the American Association of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) for a podium presentation at October’s AACVPR 32nd Annual Meeting, where it is a candidate for the conference’s Beginner Investigator Award.

The paper Lavalley will present at the AACVPR conference was her capstone project in the DNP program at Elms College. Each DNP student is required to complete a scholarly capstone project that contributes to the field of nursing. The project topics are related to the areas of nursing where they currently work, or areas in which they have a particular interest.

Lavalley’s project earned her the 2017 DNP Capstone Award from Elms College, which honors a DNP student who has developed a distinguished capstone project that demonstrates scholarly rigor, innovation, and outcomes that improve health or health-related outcomes for a specific population; and who has the potential to advance nursing science, practice, or policy.

The paper is titled “A Telephone Intervention to Improve Patient Return Rates in Cardiac Rehabilitation: A Pilot Study” and focuses on cardiac rehabilitation, or CR.

“Cardiovascular disease accounts for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number projected to reach 23.6 million by 2030,” Lavalley said. CR improves patient outcomes and reduces risk in the earlier post-discharge period, but it remains highly underused, she added. Despite its benefits, many patients are at risk for not following the CR program, for a variety of reasons.

She and her colleagues decided to investigate whether a telephone call focused on patient motivation, education, risks, and goal setting would improve return rates among patients identified as at risk for non-adherence to the CR program.

“Telephone interventions are known to be an important tool to provide support and help overcome barriers after discharge,” she noted.

They studied 100 patients in Baystate Medical Center’s outpatient CR program and found that those who received the telephone call were more likely to attend their second session of CR as scheduled, compared with patients who did not receive this intervention (80 percent vs. 51 percent). The overall return rate was higher in the intervention group, as well.

“This straightforward strategy represents an attractive adjunct to current management of outpatient CR patients,” she said.

Lavalley’s coauthors are Heidi Szalai, Dr. Quinn R. Pack, and Andrew Storer, associate professor of nursing at Elms. Their paper will be published in the September/October 2017 issue of the AACVPR’s Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention (JCRP). This publication is the official journal of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the Canadian Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation.

The only professional journal targeted toward the entire cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation team, JCRP features original, peer-reviewed manuscripts cover all aspects of cardiac, peripheral vascular, and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Storer was the capstone chair for Lavalley’s project; he supervised the project from the development stage through implementation and analysis. The project, Storer said, “has made a positive impact in the quality of care for the patients, institutions, and communities served.”

“This project may be of great value to other cardiac rehab programs around the nation, particularly in this complex healthcare environment,” Lavalley said.

Lavalley credits the Elms DNP program with preparing her to contribute to the future of healthcare.

“The DNP program provided me with not only the clinical application, but an advanced level of current healthcare and policy issues, organizational and leadership skills for quality improvement, clinical scholarship and patient-care technology to promote a well-rounded doctorate of nursing practice,” she said.

“Our entire DNP faculty and I are extremely proud of Dr. Lavalley,” said Kathleen B. Scoble, dean of the School of Nursing at Elms College. “We know that her career as a DNP nurse practitioner is only beginning and will continue to grow.”

The doctor of nursing practice degree is a terminal degree that prepares expert advanced practice clinical nurse practitioners, nurse leaders, and nurse educators for the highest level of nursing practice. A DNP-prepared nurse has practice expertise and works to improve the delivery of care to all patients within the micro and macro healthcare systems.

Elms College offers three DNP tracks: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP), and health systems innovation and leadership. Lavalley completed her degree in the AGACNP track.