Rosemary Walulu, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor of nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), has been board certified as an HIV/AIDS nursing specialist. Dr. Walulu is the only nurse in the city of El Paso, and one of just 30 in the state of Texas, to hold this certification.
“I have had the privilege of working with vulnerable HIV-infected adolescents and their families throughout my professional career,” says Dr. Walulu. “So this certification is of great importance to me.”
The certification — officially called the HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN) Certification — recognizes Dr. Walulu’s expertise in a complex knowledge base and range of skills related to HIV/AIDS, including family dynamics, grief and loss, coping mechanisms for chronic illness, care of immunocompromised clients and risk reduction.
In addition to teaching nursing students at TTUHSC El Paso, Dr. Walulu studies how HIV-infected adolescents transition from pediatric care to adult-centered care. Studies have shown that about 20 percent of all 20-year-olds with HIV do not seek follow-up care after their 21st birthday.
“Lack of assistance for adolescents to navigate health care systems can cause this dropout,” Dr. Walulu explains. “But it’s important to retain participation; it’s my hope to create transition services that can help smooth some of the processes to avoid gaps in care for this vulnerable population.”
The ACRN certification is jointly granted by the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) and the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board (HANCB), two nonprofit organizations that promote the professional development of nurses caring for those with HIV or AIDS.