Back row (left to right): Dr. Lisa Ponsford, ENP students Ayla Koska, Deanna St. Cyr and Kelly Hines-Stellisch. Front row (left to right): Dr. Christine Magladry, ENP student Timothy Goco, and Dr. Donna Emanuele.

College of Graduate Nursing Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP) students received hands-on procedural skills training from ENP program faculty Drs. Donna Emanuele, Christine Magladry and Lisa Ponsford, in collaboration with College of Optometry faculty, in handling eye emergencies, another shining example of interprofessional collaboration at Western University of Health Sciences.

“The significance of collaboration and interprofessional training equips and better prepares WesternU ENP students’ readiness to practice skills required in the emergency department and urgent care setting,” said ENP Post Graduate Certificate Director Donna Emanuele, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP. “Addressing and identifying ocular emergencies are an essential component to ENP practice and our colleagues in optometry have added enormous value.”

College of Optometry (CO) Assistant Dean Loretta Ng, OD, FAAO, and CO Associate Professor Bennett McAllister, OD, FAAO, introduced four Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP) students to different techniques and instruments in the WesternU Eye Care Institute in November. The students learned about different tests to measure intraocular pressures, operated a B-Scan ultrasound to image the globe when there has been orbital trauma, practiced point-of-care testing for red eyes that can help differentiate if it is from a viral source, and performed lid eversion techniques and biomicroscopy skills for assessing and removing ocular foreign bodies from a gelatin cornea.

ENP student Timothy Goco performs a slit lamp examination on classmate Deanna St. Cyr, under the supervision of College of Optometry Associate Professor Bennett McAllister, OD, FAAO.

ENP student Deanna St. Cyr, MSN, BSN, RN, FNP, said learning these skills was very exciting. Training on the slit lamp and B-Scan ultrasound was fascinating, and having optometrists there was reassuring, she said.

“Foreign body removal was ultimately my favorite part,” St. Cyr said. “They reassured us that we can take our skills a little bit further and still help patients without harming them.”

St. Cyr has worked as a nurse for 26 years. She has worked in and out of emergency care and wanted to enhance her skills and potentially land a job in an ER. She works in primary care in Nevada and traveled to Pomona for this hands-on learning opportunity.

She learned from the CO faculty that if she encounters a patient with retinal detachment, she should send them to a retinal specialist instead of a general ophthalmologist.

“Knowing you now can refer someone appropriately makes a huge difference,” St. Cyr said. “Having an interdisciplinary support system in primary practice will create better communication and better outcomes for the patient.

ENP students practice airway procedural skills and intubation on simulated mannikin in the Nursing Science Center simulation lab.

CGN faculty have trained optometry students in injection and suturing skills for several years, so this provided CO faculty the opportunity to return the favor, Ng said.

“The students were thrilled with learning these techniques that they can immediate apply in their clinic,” Ng said. “Dr. McAllister and I enjoy our interactions with the ENP students and their faculty and this rewarding opportunity to provide IPE education in a truly meaningful way.”

This “symbiotic relationship” between the colleges of optometry and graduate nursing symbolizes what IPE at WesternU is all about and that “every encounter is better together,” McAllister said.