UAB School of Nursing awarded nearly $3 million in HRSA grants

PATH Clinic, Heart Failure Clinic, residents of rural Alabama areas will benefit from Federal agency's focus on improving health equality
By Jimmy Creed

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing has been awarded two Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grants totaling nearly $3 million and geared toward providing quality effective, efficient health care -- training new nurse practitioners who will practice in Alabama’s rural and underserved areas and providing behavioral health care for patients in the School’s Providing Access to Healthcare (PATH) and Heart Failure Clinics.

A three-year, $1.98-million grant for the project “Academic-Practice Partnership for a Healthier Alabama” with Assistant Professor D’Ann Somerall, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC, as project director will help expand and increase training to prepare family nurse practitioners to address the needs of Alabama’s rural and underserved populations.

A two-year, $1-million grant for the project “Bridging the Gap in Behavioral Health for Uninsured Populations in Birmingham” with Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships Cynthia Selleck, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN, as project director will help add behavioral health services in two of the School’s existing nurse-led clinics that provide community-based primary care and chronic disease management for uninsured patients in Birmingham.

HRSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is primarily responsible for improving health and health equality through access to quality services, a skilled workforce and innovative programs. HRSA programs provide health care to people who are geographically isolated or economically or medically underserved, goals that align perfectly with the missions of the two nurse-led clinics and the School’s focus on Alabama’s rural health care needs.

“This is big for the UAB School of Nursing, but it is even bigger for the patients we will serve because both of these grants are about treating populations who often have nowhere else to turn,” Selleck said. “These grants will allow us to better serve our patients in our two clinics and better prepare our family nurse practitioner students to have even more impact on health care in areas of our state where they are vitally needed.”

As part of the three-year, $1.98-million grant, the School will continue current partnerships with Quality of Life Health Services of Gadsden and Health Services, Inc. of Montgomery with an overall goal of preparing nurse practitioners to practice more effectively and efficiently in rural settings. In the process, the program’s preceptors – certified registered nurse practitioners from these agencies – will also be given guidance on how to be better preceptors and increase collaboration with the School’s faculty.

“In turn, the preceptors will be able to advise us regarding our curriculum and whether we’re teaching the concepts that are needed most in rural settings,” Somerall said. “Are we doing a good job teaching the students how to take care of the issues that arise in rural settings? That is what we need to know, and this exchange of information will be important as we continue to create a pipeline of practice-ready family nurse practitioners who are committed to caring for Alabama’s medically needy populations.”

Quality of Life Health Services and Health Services, Inc. operate 31 clinic sites in 23 Alabama counties, and it is estimated that over the three years of the award, 55 family nurse practitioner students will receive the bulk of their clinical training at this sites.

“The bottom line is we want to be able to train highly educated family nurse practitioners to go into rural communities and take care of patients to the highest level of medical care, as well as teaching the nurse practitioner students and the patients about the the unusual situations that arise from living in a rural area like lack of access to specialists for example,” Somerall said.

Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Moneyham, PhD, RN, FAAN, agreed.

“The education and training nurse practitioners receive is critically important to the role that nurses play in improving access to health care in rural and underserved regions of the state,” Moneyham said. “To be effective in such roles, nurses have to understand the complexities of the communities and populations they serve, including the social and environmental factors that influence health behaviors, as well as the willingness of patients to use available health care services and comply with the plan of care.

“The grants we have received from HRSA will support our efforts to prepare a nursing workforce with the skills and knowledge base that will improve their effectiveness in providing care to these communities and populations.”

For many patients at the PATH and Heart Failure Clinics, operated by the School in partnership with UAB Hospital and Health System, the $1 million grant will mean access to treatment and care of mental health and substance abuse issues that may have tremendous impact on their overall health issues.

“We know that if we can better manage the mental health and substance abuse issues of these patients, they can better manage their diabetes or heart failure,” Selleck said. “It is about treating the person as a whole, and that is where we are trying to get to with this grant.”

The funding will allow for the addition of a psychiatrist, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, a licensed clinical social worker, a care manager and a clinical exercise physiologist, all who will spend time in both clinics on varying schedules. In addition to their primary contributions, the new clinicians will also be asked to teach the current clinicians and students who rotate through both clinics how to integrate mental and behavioral health services into primary care and chronic disease management.

“We are excited about expanding the behavioral health component at our PATH and Heart Failure Clinics and to further enhance our interprofessional collaborative practice model,” Professor and Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care Department Chair Maria Shirey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FACHE, FAAN, said.

HRSA sought only applicants from around the country that already had established interprofessional, collaborative clinics managed by nurses, and it found the perfect fit at the UAB School of Nursing.

“We really were the perfect applicant for what they were looking for because our current nurse-managed clinics are doing a great job,” Selleck said. “This is going to be so helpful for our patients, UAB Hospital and the Health System.

“Both of these grants are really about teaching all our clinicians to be better educators of our students so that they are happier and have better experiences and everybody provides better team-based care in the long run, which is the ultimate goal we all share.”
Read 7678 times Last modified on July 05, 2016

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