Meet Dr. Jennifer Lemoine, coordinator for the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at UL Lafayette. She’s a neonatal nurse practitioner and is active at the local and national levels promoting the health and well-being of women, children, and babies.
Dr. Lemoine is an active advocate for nurse practitioners to have full practice authority in Louisiana and for Title VIII funding, which allocates funds to educate nurses and nursing faculty at the national level. She was one of eight faculty members in the country to be appointed to the national AACN Faculty Policy Intensive in 2014 and was in Washington, D.C. in June with the National League of Nurses to lobby for Title VIII funding on Capitol Hill.
“It’s the perfect time to talk about Title VIII funding because the climate in Washington is focused on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act,” she explains. Many do not realize that Title VIII funding is directly associated with the future of healthcare services. There is a misconception that if the ACA is repealed and replaced, that all of the issues we face as a nation related to healthcare will just go away But if Title VIII funding is going to be reduced, then how are we going to educate nurses and how are we going to have faculty available to educate the future nursing workforce? If the nursing workforce is reduced we can have the best health care coverage in the world, and people will still not have access to care.”
In her role at the University, she has a few research focus areas. In 2016, her research focused on the effects of early enteral feedings on patients with gastroschisis (babies who were born with their intestines on the outside of their bodies). Her work was awarded an Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses 2016 research paper award.
Her latest research is about opioid use during pregnancy and how it affects short-term and long-term neonatal outcomes. Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal in the U.S., and almost 22% of pregnant women have filled at least one opioid prescription at some point during their pregnancy. When that opioid use becomes chronic (greater than 30 days), the baby may develop neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS is on the rise, increasing from 3.4 to 5.8 per 1,000 hospital births, affecting almost 22,000 newborns every year.
“We really need to decrease the amount of opioid use in women of childbearing age, because the only way to prevent NAS is for moms not to take opioids—period,” Dr. Lemoine says. “We know there’s a disconnect, that there’s a problem somewhere because women are still being prescribed opioids for common discomforts of pregnancy.”
Her other ongoing research involves the use of stimulation to improve nursing students’ knowledge and retention of infant safe-sleep practices. Dr. Lemoine, along with her colleagues Dr. Rholdon and Dr. Templet, conducted the pilot research study at the University and included senior-level nursing students, and the findings were both clinically and statistically significant. Now, this team of researchers is working with hospitals, nurses, and other caregivers in the community to increase awareness of infant safe-sleep practices.
Dr. Lemoine has taught at UL Lafayette for 10 years, and she loves the University’s academic community and people’s willingness to work together.
“I’ve never worked in an academic institution where we have such cohesive personalities and we are given unconditional support for our research interests, specialty areas, projects, passions, and continuing education,” she says. “It’s amazing.”
For nurses who are considering earning their DNP and are interested in the program at UL Lafayette, Dr. Lemoine has this advice:
“They have to be able to come back to school and find the right time for them,” she says. “In order to be successful, they have to have a work-home-family-school life balance. School cannot come second for them to be successful at the graduate level. This is a rigorous program—we’re not just preparing nurses to pass certification exams. We are preparing them for leadership and scholarship for the future generation of nursing.”