Preparing Nursing Students for Excellent Patient Care with ABT’s Telehealth Certificate Program

Graduate nursing students and nursing faculty at Montana State University-Bozeman will be among the first students participating the American Board of Telehealth’s CORE Telehealth Certificate Program. Learn why the university selected ABT’s CORE Concepts course for its nursing students from Assistant Professor Stacy Stellflug, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC. 

ABT: How and why did you select the ABT CORE Telehealth Certificate Program for nursing students at Montana State University?

A When I began the ABT’s CORE Concepts in Telehealth Program, I knew halfway through the first module this program fit our needs, which was a welcome discovery after spending many hours evaluating different options.

I have been on the faculty for 10 years and a nurse practitioner for 16 years and led the search for the correct telehealth curriculum. We wanted our students to understand and comfortably use telehealth as a practice modality.

In July 2019, the university also received a Health Resources and Services Administration, Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) grant to help nurse practitioners enter into rural practice. This grant solidified the importance of and need for telehealth education in our curriculum.

ABT: What distinguished the CORE Concepts course from others you had enrolled during your search?

The CORE Concepts course offers pertinent information that my students can use; it isn’t fluff. Students have a reasonable time to complete the coursework, which is one year. From a learning perspective, the content is organized in seven modules that presents information in the different ways that people learn.

Growing up in Northeastern Montana about 30 miles from the Canadian border, I knew Avera Health offered services to our rural emergency department. That connection and the expertise of the course presenters confirmed for me the quality and credibility of the course.

ABT: Tell us about the students in your undergraduate and graduate nursing programs?

A The university has five locations – Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula. Students begin their undergraduate studies in Bozeman and then branch out to other campus locations. We have 100 faculty members who teach around 240 undergraduates; and on the graduate level, we have 30-40 family NP and 10-15 mental health NP students. 

How will your students benefit from telehealth education from ABT?

As I did, many of our students grew up, and will provide nursing care to patients, in rural communities. Without telehealth, these patients need telehealth for access to medical specialties or eEmergency care.

I know this based on my experiences as a nurse practitioner in rural communities. One of my patients was a three-year-old who had third-degree burns on her fingers from an accident at home. Instead of traveling to the closest burn unit in Salt Lake City, Utah, we contacted the burn unit physicians via video and developed a treatment plan. Each week, this team visited the patient through video to keep her and her worried mother at home in Billings until the end of the healing process. She then traveled to Salt Lake City for a final evaluation.

With this telehealth training from ABT, these new nurses can tell administrators they can deliver patient care with telehealth to keep patients safe and see them on a more regular basis. They have access to eEmergency care to treat trauma patients who may come to their rural hospitals.

Ultimately, more patients will be able to stay at home in their own communities for quality care through telehealth. And we know, that’s what our patients want.