$2.8 million grant to fund nurse practitioner students at Binghamton University

BINGHAMTON, NY — Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing received a $2.8 million grant in July from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) program to provide financial support for graduate nursing students. HRSA’s goal in funding the grant is to increase the number of advanced-practice nurses trained as primary-care providers in rural and underserved areas.

The Decker School received $1.2 million from HRSA in 2017 and launched its ANEW Scholars Program, which supports students in Decker’s Family Nurse Practitioner program who are from rural areas and wish to practice in those underserved areas once they are credentialed. The previous grant funded two cohorts of students, including 15 students who graduated in May.

“We understand how difficult it is to recruit healthcare providers to rural areas,” said Nicole Rouhana, who co-wrote both grants and directs the ANEW Scholars Program. “For that reason, our program starts with students who already live in a rural area.”

Students selected as ANEW Scholars must be from areas with a designated rural status of 4 or more as defined by the locale’s United States Department of Agriculture rural-urban community area code. These students are matched with rural healthcare sites within their communities, where they complete hundreds of hours of direct, supervised patient care, working closely with a clinical preceptor.

“This extended clinical placement fosters an incredibly strong connection between the students and the hosting clinical sites and often results in long-term employment,” Rouhana said. “This benefits both the student and the rural communities.”

Rouhana, an assistant professor of nursing and director of Decker’s graduate programs, said the new grant will provide $700,000 annually for four years. Those monies will be used to provide tuition assistance for up to two cohorts of 24 students each. The students will also receive advanced technology and a variety of clinical tools and software aimed at providing them with the foundations for telehealth.

Telehealth is built into the curriculum for the ANEW Scholars because it has become an increasingly important tool for rural providers. According to Ann Fronczek, assistant professor and ANEW Scholar telehealth and nursing-education consultant, rural areas need telehealth due to a lack of specialized healthcare providers and the difficulties that patients face when they are forced to travel long distances to seek care for health issues.

For this reason, among the benefits the students’ clinical preceptors receive in return for their commitment to the students are information, technical support and continuing education in telehealth.

With the 2019 grant funding, Rouhana intends to establish an advisory council composed of representatives from those throughout the community who are working in telehealth. In addition, she plans to hire a staff person to assist in running the program.

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