Georgia Southern University’s School of Nursing recently received a $1.3 million federal grant that will go toward helping nurse practitioner (NP) students find clinical placement and ultimately permanent employment.
The grant will create partnerships between the School of Nursing and five Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in medically underserved communities throughout southeast Georgia.
The centers are located in Savannah, Swainsboro, Augusta and Baxley, all of which are currently facing shortages of primary care providers (PCPs). With the money from the grant, the GS School of Nursing has created an Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) program, through which NP students can train at the FQHCs, and upon graduation, return to the facilities as certified health care providers if they so choose.
The grant’s end goal is to help NP graduates find a place to work, said Marian Tabi, professor and principal investigator of the grant. Tabi said the grant is a mutually beneficial agreement because future employment of NPs at the FQHCs means the decline of PCP shortages.
“The centers need nurses to work for them,” Tabi said. “They don’t have enough health care professionals. We are hoping to increase the workforce so it can make up for the shortage of physicians and also fill in for those areas that need medical providers.”
Students who choose to participate in the ANEW are guaranteed clinical placement at one of the FQHCs and will be able to receive up to the maximum traineeship award of $15,890 per school year ($5,000 per semester, including the summer semester) appropriated throughout the enrollment in their graduate program of study, based on the availability of funding and their corresponding score on their ANEW application. It’s similar to a scholarship, Tabi said, and will help keep NP students focused on their education instead of graduate school costs and other financial worries.
According to Tabi, 11 students have been awarded so far. The School of Nursing sends applications to all of its NP students, and if a student commits to the program, he or she is required to work in one of the FQHCs for the duration of his or her traineeship or to a portion (3-6 month) requirement.
Ursula Pritham, former principal investigator of the grant, said in a press release that the partnerships with the FQHCs will assist them in hiring PCPs, specifically NP graduates from GS who have already become familiar with facility settings through their traineeships.
In addition, these partnerships will also provide continuing education materials for NPs already employed at the FQHCs. These materials include professional updates, skills refresher courses and learning about the possibility of obtaining a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.
“The ultimate goal is simple,” Tabi said. “We are hoping to increase and improve the health outcomes of our rural populations in southeast Georgia. The facilities help us, we help them. It’s a win-win.”
The five FQHCs the School of Nursing has partnered with are listed below:
1. East Georgia Healthcare Center of Swainsboro and its ten satellite clinics throughout southeast Georgia
2. Christ Community Center Health Services of Augusta
3. J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care of Savannah
4. Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care of Savannah
5. Appling Healthcare System of Baxley
The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Health Resources and Services Administration.