School of Nursing improves health equity and offers specialized training with new HRSA grant

By Tatum Lyles Flick
Communications Specialist 

three people smile at the camera

Courtney Pitts, Jannyse Tapp and Christian Ketel

The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing received a $2.6M four-year Health Resources and Services Administration grant, to continue its highly successful Collaborative Academic-Practice (CAP) program, which improves advanced practice nursing education and increases recruitment and retention in rural, tribal and medically underserved populations. 

The funding comes from HRSA’s Advanced Nursing Education Workforce program, which increases the number of health care professionals in the U.S. by offering funds for training and facilitating partnerships between nursing schools and community organizations. This grant pairs with Vanderbilt School of Nursing’s educational programs, which help students develop the skills needed to provide culturally sensitive health care. Since 2019, the CAP program has supported more than 60 advanced practice nursing students with more than $1.3M in scholarships and stipends, bringing care to medically underserved populations and increasing the number of health care professionals from underrepresented backgrounds. 

With the additional funding, the CAP program will provide specialized education and learning to a minimum of 80 Master of Science in Nursing students in three primary care specialties – Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Students will complete a minimum of 420 hours at a specific clinical practice site, which helps them offer consistent care and better understand patients from the local community. 

“Patients treated at community partner sites often require support that extends beyond purely medical needs,” said Assistant Professor Jannyse Tapp, DNP’11, FNP’09, principal Investigator and project director. “A more extensive clinical rotation period offers trainees the chance to familiarize themselves with the range of community-based resources essential for effective patient management. This extended period of rotation facilitates enhanced training and readiness for their advanced practice registered nurse roles following graduation.” 

A large part of providing health care involves connecting with and educating patients, Tapp said. The CAP program prepares students for the skill-building opportunity of working in communities where people have limited resources. Students receive specialized training to better understand how social determinants of health, such as financial constraints, access to education, living conditions and reduced access to health care, affect people. 

“Equipping trainees to deliver high-quality care within rural and medically underserved communities will help to bridge the gap resulting from limited access,” Tapp said, adding that it will also address a projected shortage of primary care providers. “The preparation provided, including educational content and immersive clinical experiences, positions CAP graduates to not only recognize, but also effectively address, the social determinants of health that promote disparities.” 

A specialized behavioral health course and patient-centered clinical experience empower trainees to help solve health care challenges. Partnerships with Federally Qualified Health Centers and community-based clinics across Middle Tennessee also play a critical role in the success of the CAP program.  

“These clinical partners are instrumental in offering educational opportunities that equip CAP trainees with the skills needed to deliver exceptional, high-quality primary care to some of the most vulnerable communities,” Tapp said. “Preceptors within our network guide students in managing acute and chronic patient conditions, while also addressing the social and structural determinants of health that impact the overall well-being of every patient.” 

Many graduates are recruited by their CAP clinical sites, which provides the new graduates with employment and brings underserved populations the benefit of compassionate, well-trained advanced practice nurses. 

One of the successes of the program is that it has increased the number of Vanderbilt graduates working in rural or underserved areas. “More than 90% of graduates from the program who responded to surveys continued to practice in medically underserved communities at one-year post-graduation,” said Associate Professor Christian Ketel, DNP’14, RN, FNAP, who serves as the program’s evaluation coordinator. 

 As the program continues through the next four years and beyond, the CAP team will evaluate its effectiveness through comprehensive quantitative and qualitative assessments. 

“This allows us to monitor the educational outcomes of the programs while providing students a voice in future iterations of the CAP program,” Ketel said. “Besides essential APRN competencies, the CAP team will assess the participants’ knowledge and confidence in identifying and treating patients with low-resourced and historically marginalized backgrounds. The CAP team will also evaluate participants for professional and emotional readiness to practice in these environments.” 

Vanderbilt FNP, AGPCNP and NM/FNP students are eligible to apply and can find more information at Applications are due on September 29. Trainees selected for the program will be notified in November.

This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number 2 T94HP32909‐05‐00 as part of an award totaling $2,600,000 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit