The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing has received more than $4 million in program support and workforce development funding to help students in its nationally ranked graduate programs who are preparing for careers as advanced practice nurses, nurse educators and nurse researchers, and to expand primary care services for rural and medically underserved populations.
The total for the School – which holds the highest overall national ranking in the state and is the most affordable highly ranked school nationally – includes:
- $2.66 million in highly competitive U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) education and training grants for the academic year 2017-18 through the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Program (ANEW); the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP); Advanced Nurse Education Program (ANE); and Nurse Anesthesia Traineeship Program (NAT).
- More than $1.38 million from other organizations, including the Jonas Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Komen Foundation, American Cancer Society, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The external HRSA funding includes:
- The largest amount the School has ever received through the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) – more than $726,000 -- to support doctoral students committed to careers as nurse educators who are enrolled full-time or part-time in the School’s Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs.
NFLP grants are formula based, meaning the amount of funds awarded to a school are based on the cost of tuition and fees per student per academic year as well as the number of students to be funded – which means the UAB School of Nursing’s affordability versus other public and private schools nationally is an advantage for students seeking graduate degrees who need tuition assistance.
“The greatest need in nursing is for doctorally prepared faculty. We make our NFLP funds available to our DNP and PhD students who intend to pursue employment as faculty in a school of nursing upon graduation,” said Linda Moneyham, PhD, RN, FAAN, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “Many of our graduate students choose the UAB School of Nursing not only because of the quality of our graduate programs, in terms of both classroom and research experiences, but also because of our low tuition rates and available funding. They make us one of the best values in the country for anyone wishing to pursue a nursing degree at any level.”
- Continued support through Advanced Nursing Education (ANE) and Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) grants to expand the number of new nurse practitioners who will practice in Alabama’s rural and underserved areas, and in expanding integrated behavioral health services in the School’s Providing Access to Healthcare (PATH) and Heart Failure Clinics. These interprofessional, collaborative partnerships with UAB Hospital and the UAB Health System provide community-based care and chronic disease management for uninsured diabetes and heart failure patients in the Birmingham community.
- A Nurse Anesthetist Traineeship Program grant to support students enrolled full-time in the School’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Nurse Anesthesia Specialty Track who intend to work in rural and medically underserved areas in Alabama and contiguous Southern states.
“Each year, these programs provide aid for tuition and fees that enable many of our graduate students to complete their graduate nursing education, many of whom would not pursue advanced nursing education without such support,” Moneyham said. “A good portion of the funding is earmarked to support nurses from rural and underserved areas to prepare as primary care nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists to help alleviate the shortage of these providers in underserved areas of Alabama.”
- A new two-year ANEW grant totaling more than $1.3 million which will allow the School to enhance and expand its commitment to increasing primary care for rural and medically underserved populations across Alabama by integrating behavioral health care training into three existing and two new academic practice partnerships.
Assistant Dean for Graduate Clinical Programs and Associate Professor Ashley Hodges, PhD, CRNP, WHNP-BC, who serves as the ANEW grant’s program director, is particularly excited about the continued emphasis on increasing access to behavioral health care in rural and underserved settings across Alabama.
“Increasing patient access to behavioral health care through primary care in medically underserved populations is very important because, in many instances, these patients are not receiving treatment for these issues,” Hodges said. “By strengthening our commitment to these patients and enhancing these academic practice partnerships, we continue to truly reflect the School’s mission to provide patient-centered health care to those in need locally and globally.”
In addition to having students in the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track receive their clinical training in their facilities, preceptors at the practice partnership sites will benefit from onsite training provided by UAB School of Nursing faculty, monthly webinars focusing on integrating behavioral health services into primary care and access to a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner to consult with as needed. They will attend the annual UAB School of Nursing Graduate Nursing Education Primary Care Summit.
The Summit, part of the GNEPCS initiative, brings together clinicians, faculty, students and health care leaders from across the state to engage in critical dialogue on overcoming primary care challenges for rural Alabamians. The GNEPCS initiative focuses on educating more advanced practice nurses to work in underserved areas and creating a pipeline for recruiting nurses from rural Alabama into the School’s MSN primary care nurse practitioner specialty tracks.
“This new funding builds on our previous ANE grant and on our Primary Care Scholars initiative that The Daniel Foundation has so generously helped us establish,” Hodges said. “We are pulling together all the resources from those avenues to continue leveraging these academic practice partnerships to their maximum.”
Since its inception, 50 students from 26 Alabama counties have enrolled in the Primary Care Scholars initiative and 13 graduated in Cohort 1 in August 2016. Of those 13, nine are currently employed in rural Alabama counties. Currently, 37 students who make up Cohorts 2 and 3 are scheduled to graduate in 2017 and 2018.
Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships Cynthia Selleck, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN said that, thanks to the support of HRSA and organizations such as The Daniel Foundation, the School has truly begun to the see the fruits of its many labors to address health disparities in Alabama.
“We are excited to see an increased number of nurse practitioner graduates in primary care who want to go back to serve in their hometowns and other rural communities,” Selleck said. “We also see increased interest from preceptors in rural areas and more clinics that want to become engaged in helping us create this sustainable pipeline of primary care providers. Of course, we always welcome more rural students and more rural providers and clinics who want to partner with us to continue making a difference in rural Alabama.”
Quality of Life Health Services, Inc., is the state’s largest FQHC with clinics in 18 counties. The Bessemer Neighborhood Health Center serves underserved populations in the Bessemer, Alabama area, and Christ Health Center provides services in Woodlawn, Alabama.
Cahaba Medical Care serves Jefferson, Bibb and Perry counties. Capstone Rural Health Center serves Walker County through clinics.
Over the two years of the award, 57 Family Nurse Practitioner students will receive the bulk of their clinical training at these partner sites, which will prepare them to practice more effectively and efficiently in rural and underserved settings statewide.
Upon graduation, the students are encouraged to continue providing primary care in Alabama’s rural and underserved areas. The School assists the students in connecting with rural providers and their regional Alabama Area Health Education Center (AHEC) to stay abreast of current employment opportunities. Created by Congress in 1971, AHECs are committed to increasing the quantity, diversity and distribution of health care professionals, especially in rural and underserved areas. After gaining one year of experience as Certified Registers Nurse Practitioners, they are also asked to serve as preceptors to other students in the School interested in rural health.
The more than $1.38 million from other sources, including foundation, societies and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also is key in building the advanced practice nurses, nurse educators and nurse researchers of the future.
“These grants provide not only tuition and fees but stipends that support full-time study and the student’s immersion on faculty research teams,” Moneyham said. “A hallmark of our School is groundbreaking research and our PhD students work alongside internationally known nurse scientists. Our ability to provide this level of funding, combined with our nationally and internationally recognized nurse scientists, has increased our capacity to recruit some of the top doctoral students in the nation.”