Rural areas in Southeast Kansas (SEK) face unique health problems that require health care practitioners and providers to accommodate the needs of the area. A new nurse practitioner residency program in SEK is set to begin and will help increase access to healthcare in the region.
Made possible through a grant awarded to the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing, the grant will help establish the first rural primary care nurse practitioner residency program in SEK.
The $ 2.3-million-dollar grant was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and will span four years; with the onboarding of the first six chosen taking place in June.
Amy Hite, PSU associate professor of nursing and project director, said receiving the grant was “exciting news.”
“It’s really exciting, because it’s new…,” Hite said. “A first time start up grant is always exciting.”
Hite applied for the grant and was glad to receive it as there was an “extraordinary amount” of applications, approximately 90, and there were 36 total grants awarded.
The grant award will partially fund salaries and educational opportunities for 18 nurse practitioners who will do their residencies with preceptors at Ascension Via Christi, Girard Medical Center and the Community Health Center (CHC) of SEK. It will also help fund telehealth equipment.
Tawyna Madl, director of Medical Staff Development & Education and Family Practice Provider at CHC of SEK and Oklahoma, said the CHC was very excited to hear about Pitt State receiving the grant.
“(The) Community Health Center was excited to hear that Pitt State received the grant, and we’re also very excited to be partnering with the Pitt State School of Nursing to improve what we feel we already do well,” Madl said. “We have an extensive onboarding process… So, we’re really excited to support the transition from novice to expert.”
The grant will focus on four main health area problems that rural areas in SEK face, including clinical preparations related to the opioid crisis, improved access to mental health and utilizing telehealth for rural patient care.
“The grant gave us about three or four different options of focus areas because they wanted it in rural areas and they looked at the problems facing healthcare in rural areas,” Hite said. “There are different problems we see in healthcare in rural areas compared to urban areas and they knew opioid problems are across the U.S., but medically assisted training and physicians that can accommodate the opioid epidemic are lower in rural areas, so the need (help) and with that comes mental health needs too are much more challenging when you don’t have providers that can focus on those patients…”
The program aims to improve rural health care and keep excellent nurse practitioners in the area.
“I hope we keep more primary care providers who are educated here to stay here…” Hite said. “There is a benefit for the patient when you have a nurse practitioner who has advanced clinical skills and knowledge to stay in this area. It’s beneficial to the community because we’ll have greater access, easier access to healthcare needs.”
Mary Carol Pomatto, PSU Dean and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, believes the grant will also be of great benefit to PSU students and the Pittsburg community.
“Students… nurse practitioners seeking residencies, this will be of tremendous opportunity to them to have this opportunity,” Pomatto said. “Any kind of experience like this enriches our broader community as well in that faculty and students are working closely with the community to serve their needs in education and in practice.”