Melanie Altamirano-Cariaga

Dr. Melanie Altamirano-Cariaga, UCLA DNP class of 2020 graduate, has started a new position at UCLA Health Santa Monica Medical Center as Stroke Team Advanced Practice Provider Supervisor and the first Stroke Nurse Practitioner at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center. Dr. Altamirano-Cariaga is cross training at both UCLA campuses (Ronald Reagan Medical Center and Santa Monica Medical Center) and will be part of a nursing leadership fellowship.

Dr. Altamirano-Cariaga is building a team of four other advanced practice providers who will provide 24 hour neurology coverage at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center. She is also in the process of creating a formal Advanced Practice Providers (APP) onboarding program which will include orientation, direct patient care, didactics, assessment, imaging, precepting and 1:1 mentoring.

The UCLA Health stroke team will respond to code strokes and neurologic emergencies and in addition will provide support through daily rounding with the neurology team.

Dr. Altamirano-Cariaga's vital role in training new stroke practitioners to best treat stroke patients will help expedite care to patients, decreasing treatment of thrombolytics or thrombectomy times, improve patient outcomes, and decrease death and disability. Having specific stroke nurse practitioners within the hospital will provide immediate care for patients, while also providing support and education for nurses on all Stroke units.

"I am looking forward to my new role to help enhance the stroke program, create a strong APP team, and make an impact within the hospital," said Dr. Altamirano-Cariaga.

Dr. Altamirano-Cariaga has over 10 years of experience as a Stroke/Neurology Nurse Practitioner and Stroke Coordinator throughout multiple stroke centers across Los Angeles and Orange County and prior experience at Harbor UCLA Medical Center as a Trauma/Acute Care Surgery/SICU Nurse Practitioner. She has a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration from CSU Long Beach, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from CSU Los Angeles, a Master of Science in Nursing - Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner from CSU Los Angeles, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree from UCLA. Throughout her career, she has helped build primary stroke centers, thrombectomy capable centers, and comprehensive stroke programs while significantly improving outcomes, such as door-to-needle (TPA/TNK) and door-to-revascularization (thrombectomy) outcomes and hopes to make an impact on UCLA's Stroke program.