School of Nursing receives $5 million in HRSA grants to increase nurse practitioners in rural, underserved areas

VUSN faculty in front of wood wall with VUSN logo

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing has received two awards totaling more than $5 million from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to increase the number of nurse practitioners (NP) working in rural and underserved communities where there aren’t enough primary care providers. In response to the growing need for mental health services, both awarded programs will have a psychiatric/mental health component that integrates behavioral health into the primary care setting.

The school received a $2.7 million award to support the development of a learning track within VUSN’s family nurse practitioner (FNP) program that will focus specific education on serving rural and underserved populations. The award will also be used to grow and build collaborations with health agencies such as community-based and federally qualified health centers as sites providing clinical training for the program’s students.

Funded under HRSA’s Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) initiative, the Collaborative Academic-Practice (CAP) Program will recruit and graduate a minimum of 60 FNPs over the course of the grant.

The program’s new FNP learning track will include advanced integrated health training focusing on telehealth, social determinants of health, and expanded psychopharmacologic knowledge that supports behavioral health. Students’ clinical education and training will include content that addresses complex care delivery and health promotion for at-risk populations. Program participants will receive up to $22,000 in tuition assistance. An additional component of the program will focus on retention of advanced practice registered nurses in rural/underserved settings.

VUSN’s second HRSA grant will create a primary care nurse practitioner residency program to prepare and increase the number of new nurse practitioners practicing in rural and underserved communities.

Funded through HRSA’s Advanced Nursing Education (ANE)–Nurse Practitioner Residency Program, the $2.4 million grant will be used to develop a postgraduate Nurse Practitioner Residents (NPRs) training program that employs NPRs in community-based health clinics for 12 months and provides additional education tailored for rural and underserved patient populations. It will be VUSN’s first nurse practitioner residency program.

As primary care providers in such settings, NPRs will learn best practice strategies for caring for vulnerable populations. Those strategies will include incorporating telehealth, social determinants of health and integrated behavioral health into primary care.

The three-year ANE-NPR program will accept seven residents per year (six family nurse practitioners and one psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner). The grant will also fund telehealth technology, allowing for the delivery of health care services over long distances and expanding access of care to patients in need of specialized services such as behavioral health and addiction.

VUSN believes the highly specific content and clinical experiences will inspire FNP students and NPRs to seek employment with their clinical sites or similar organizations post-completion.

“Our experience has been that a large percentage of graduates who do their clinical training in rural or underrepresented locations choose to practice in similar settings,” said Linda D. Norman, DSN, FAAN, VUSN Dean and Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing. “Additionally, both programs will provide participants with career assistance that will help them obtain similar employment if needed.”

Associate Professor and FNP Academic Director Courtney Pitts, DNP, is the CAP Program principal investigator. VUSN Senior Associate Dean for Clinical and Community Partnerships Pam Jones, DNP, is principal investigator of the nurse practitioner residency program.

The CAP Programs will begin recruiting students in fall 2019; the ANE-NPR program will recruit applicants in spring 2020.

The CAP Program: A Collaborative Academic-Practice (CAP) Program to Enhance the Education, Recruitment and Retention of Family Nurse Practitioners in Rural and Underserved Communities is supported by award 1T94HP329090100 from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Advanced Nursing Education Nurse Practitioner Residency (ANE-NPR) Program is supported by award 1T14HP33119-01-00 from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Image, above: Left, Vanderbilt School of Nursing faculty Christian Ketel, Courtney Pitts, Leah Branam and Pam Jones will use HRSA grants to increase the number of nurse practitioners in rural and medically underserved areas.

Photo: John Russell/Vanderbilt Photography

Nancy Wise 615-322-3894