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NDSU School of Nursing receives grant to advance care in rural areas

The NDSU School of Nursing is receiving a $1.57 million federal grant award over four years that will help educate future health care professionals that serve rural areas. 

The award will make possible a Nurse Practitioner Residency/Fellowship Program for new graduates. NDSU and Essentia Health are partnering to develop the program for nurse practitioners working in rural clinics.

The Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is providing $1,575,012 over four years to create the residency program.

“Highly prepared nurse practitioners that are able to function at the highest scope of practice benefit rural patients and communities,” said Mykell Barnacle, NDSU assistant professor of nursing practice, who heads the team developing the program, along with Dean Gross, assistant professor of nursing practice. 

“Rural nurse practitioners often see a wide range of conditions and complexity, as well as perform many procedures that are not as common in urban primary care,” said Barnacle. “This type of care is often practiced without the benefit of in-office colleagues or easy access to specialists. The program will also allow new nurse practitioners to network with regional colleagues, specialists and administration partners,” she explained.

Program developers hope to provide nurse practitioners support through the residency, thus increasing job satisfaction and retention in the rural communities they serve. The first group of newly graduated family nurse practitioners to begin their residency will start in fall 2019.

The program will emphasize enhanced rural clinical readiness and medication assisted treatment, mental health offerings with special focus on opioid misuse, emergency care skills, childhood obesity and telehealth.

In addition to Barnacle and Gross, faculty members Allison Peltier, Heidi Saarinen and Adam Hohman in NDSU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program and Christie Erickson, doctor of nursing practice at Essentia Health, assisted with the funding proposal.

“Nurse practitioners in the rural clinics practice a full scope of patient care skills and at the top of their skill set so they can bring necessary care to rural patients and keep their healthcare at home,” said Erickson. “Essentia Health is excited to bring this residency program to the rural clinics where it is most needed.”

“Essentia Health values the important role nurse practitioners play in our ability to provide the necessary access our patients need, particularly in the rural areas of our service area,” said Dr. Richard Vetter, Essentia Health-West chief medical officer. “Better health outcomes are directly related to timely access and patients appreciate getting their care close to home.”

“As the state’s land-grant university, we help develop innovative healthcare solutions to serve citizens in rural areas,” said Carla Gross, associate dean of NDSU’s School of Nursing and Fargo site chair in the College of Health Professions.

The NDSU School of Nursing provides advanced nursing training in Fargo and at the NDSU School of Nursing at Sanford Health in Bismarck. Since the inception of NDSU’s family nurse practitioner program in 2001, more than 50 percent of NDSU graduates are employed in clinics in rural or health professional shortage areas.

A previous report by the Governor’s Nursing Workforce Shortage Planning Team showed that statewide, North Dakota is experiencing vacancy rates of 13.44 percent for nurse practitioners.

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Vice President for University Relations
North Dakota State University
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