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Florida Nursing Program Emphasizes Primary Care

Analysis  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   June 14, 2018

To improve access to care, a project at Florida Atlantic University aims to educate nurses in primary care delivery.

As the healthcare system shifts to one that emphasizes value over volume, an important question becomes, "What should the nursing roles of the future look like?"

It's a given that nurses will remain key to achieving optimal clinical outcomes, quality metrics, and patient satisfaction scores. However, how and where they accomplish these objectives may look very different than it has in the recent past.

Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing recognizes this and, as a result, is launching the four-year project, "Caring-based Academic Partnerships in Excellence RNs in Primary Care,” to change the way it educates registered nurses.

The project's goal is to recruit and prepare nursing students and RNs to practice the full scope of their license in community-based primary care teams.

“The overarching goal of our project is to create healthier communities in rural and underserved populations,” Karethy A. Edwards, DrPH, APRN, project director, associate dean of academic programs and a professor in FAU’s College of Nursing says in a news release. “With this latest grant from HRSA, we will educate and provide clinical training to establish a primary care workforce of students with a bachelor of science in nursing degree who are practice ready and willing to serve our veterans and patients in rural and underserved communities.”

Collaborate to Fill Gaps in Care

The college received a $2.8 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration to support the project.

“This grant will position the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing as a leader in the national initiative to enhance the role of registered nurses in primary care and promote health equity in this region,” said Marlaine Smith, PhD, dean of FAU’s College of Nursing. “We are proud to join forces with our outstanding project partners to help fill the gap in the delivery of primary cares services, especially for our veterans and vulnerable populations.”  

FAU has partnered with the West Palm Beach Veteran Affairs Medical Center and their interprofessional health care teams who provide services in 26 primary care clinics; Community Health of South Florida, Inc. in Miami; Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale; Caridad Center in Boynton Beach; and FAU’s Community Health Center in West Palm Beach.

The goal of this collaboration is to increase access to care while emphasizing prevention and control of chronic diseases in non-institutional settings.

Serving the Underserved

The state has room for improvement when it comes to delivering primary care.  

Based on the 2016 National Healthcare Quality & Disparities report, compared to the other 50 states, Florida ranked weak on person-centered care, patient-centered access to care, and chronic care.

Yet, many of the state's residents, are in need of these types of services. Approximately 3.3 million Medicare recipients seeking primary care and behavioral health services live in the state. Additionally, the state's minority populations, which often face health disparities like higher rates of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, are growing.  Florida is also home to 1.5 million U.S. veterans.

Together with its community-based partners, the project aims to:

  • Deliver high-quality and accessible primary care services
  • Support a diverse group of primary care oriented BSN students
  • Develop RN preceptors' knowledge, skills, and experiences to enable them to practice at the full scope of their licenses
  • Create and implement evidence-based learning experiences
  • Build a value-added model and team to develop and implement strategies to connect program graduates with primary care employment opportunities that serve veterans and rural and underserved populations

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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