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Through targeted programs, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing is devoted to increasing the number of primary care advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), building partnerships to break down barriers, and increasing access to health care in rural and underserved areas to improve the quality of life for all Alabamians, with a special focus on populations with limited access to health care.

Of the 67 counties in Alabama, 56 are designated as rural and 61 as primary care shortage areas. With this primary care health professional shortage affecting over one million Alabamians, there continues to be a need for primary care advanced practice registered nurses to improve access to health care across the state. With support from the Daniel Foundation of Alabama , the UAB School of Nursing is working to overcome one of the most challenging issues facing Alabama by training providers to serve in rural areas.

The Graduate Nursing Education Primary Care Scholars (GNEPCS) Program is available to all current primary care graduate students residing in Alabama with an interest in providing care to rural or underserved communities upon graduation.

Primary Care Scholars receive mentoring and individualized content relative to rural health issues by participating in monthly training sessions with faculty. These sessions provide an opportunity for Scholars to share personal experiences, and to learn from experiences of faculty members and guest speakers.

The UAB School of Nursing continues to develop a network of rural health providers across the state which allows Scholars the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of rural settings.

Professional development is nurtured through a multitude of educational offerings provided to Scholars. Access to conferences, research, and webinars provides Scholars with a wide variety of topics to enhance their educational experience, and better prepare them to serve rural and underserved populations.

The importance of advocacy and leadership skills is emphasized throughout the program. Scholars are provided with specialized training and are encouraged to participate in diverse networking opportunities. Engagement with professional organizations at the local, state, and national level provides students with additional resources to improve health.

Primary Care Scholars Outcomes

  • 117 Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Midwifery students have participated in the Primary Care Scholars program.
  • 86 Scholars have graduated and entered the workforce.
  • Current Scholars represent communities from the following rural counties: Baldwin, Bibb, Cullman, Jefferson, Lee, Lowndes, Mobile, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, and Walker.
  • Over the past year, Scholars have participated in multiple supplemental trainings including: the Alabama Rural Health Association Annual Conference, an Interprofessional Symposium, 2023 Alabama Opioid Summit, health policy workshop, pharmacology update, women’s health mini-conference, and Nurse’s Day at the Capitol.
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Program Admission

All students admitted to a primary care MSN or DNP track with an interest in caring for rural or underserved patients are invited to apply to be a Primary Care Scholar.

The specialty tracks eligible for participation are:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gero Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health
  • Nurse Midwifery
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Rural Healthcare Preceptors

Primary care providers serving in rural or underserved communities have the experience, knowledge, and expertise needed to train future advanced practice registered nurses and ensure they are prepared to meet the challenges associated with providing care in Alabama’s rural communities. We realize you are on the “front lines” of providing care and we want you to know we appreciate and support your efforts to improve health care for the people you serve.

You have a great deal to offer and we hope you will consider partnering with us in our efforts to prepare the future APRNs needed to address the needs of Alabama. As a rural healthcare provider working with students in the UAB School of Nursing Graduate Education Primary Care Scholars initiative, you have the opportunity to invest in the providers of tomorrow.

For more information about the benefits of precepting with UAB School of Nursing, please complete this Preceptor Information Form