Using a four-year, $1 million gift from The Daniel Foundation of Alabama, the UAB School of Nursing is creating a far-reaching program designed to open up more health care access in medically underserved rural Alabama.
Alabama has 62 of 67 counties with a shortage of primary care providers, impacting more than 1.6 million people. Many of them suffer from untreated—often undiagnosed—acute and chronic health problems, including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and cancers.
This initiative, the Graduate Nursing Education Primary Care Scholars Program (GNEPCS), focuses on educating more advanced practice nurses to work in underserved areas, and on building networks connecting existing Alabama rural health care providers with one another and UAB—to reach more Alabamians needing primary care.
Pam Carver, MSN, CRNP, is the GNEPCS Program Director. Among her initial tasks is identifying up to three hub sites in rural Alabama. These will be clinical training sites where faculty and students will link to nurse practitioners in rural areas. Participating students, known as GNEPC Scholars, will be studying at the graduate level and practicing at these sites to become advanced practice nurses.
Some program activities will take place in clinical hubs; others will be based in the School, including dispensing vital health information through a telehealth coaching center staffed by faculty and experienced registered nurses enrolled in advanced nurse practitioner education at UAB. This intensifies the School’s already existing programs that recruit students from Alabama’s medically underserved areas and other initiatives funded by federal grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), including a grant that created statewide Area Health Education Centers to recruit, support and retain health care professionals in these underserved areas.
A central theme driving GNEPCS is generating and sharing new knowledge. GNEPCS is structured to produce new curricula for teaching students, develop best practice models, and establish an annual summit for health care providers across the state to learn and share approaches for helping the medically underserved.
GNEPCS has several overarching goals, such as better access to care for acute and chronic health problems, as well as life-threatening emergencies; and for individuals to obtain knowledge and motivation to help increase self-care for their health and well-being.
According to Daniel Foundation Chairman, Charles W. Daniel, the Foundation Board is extremely optimistic about this gift and what it can mean for the health of rural Alabamians. “Through this partnership, we hope to make a larger impact, statewide, and help UAB recruit and prepare more nurse practitioners to care for this vulnerable group of citizens.”