Grand Valley U. will recruit and educate NPs interested in rural or underserved areas, primary care, or mental health.
The Kirkhof College of Nursing (KCON) is using a four-year, $2.6 million federal grant to recruit and educate 37 nurse practitioners (NPs) from the very areas that need them most.
The need for primary care advanced practice nurses (APRNs) in rural areas is tremendous, as hospitals close and the number of physicians declines. Nearly 80% of U.S. rural counties are medical deserts, with no access to healthcare services, according to the National Rural Health Association.
KCON, part of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, is using the grant to continue collaborating with two health systems—McLaren Health Care and Trinity Health Muskegon—to prepare more nurse practitioners interested in working in rural or underserved areas, primary care, or mental health.
Rural residents with mental healthcare needs are also struggling with the lack of providers. Nationwide, about 158 million people live in Mental Healthcare Health Professional Shortage Areas, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
The program will recruit and educate 37 nurses from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds in the college's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.
A homegrown approach to recruiting locals within their own communities seems to create more success, particularly in rural practice, according to Michele Reisinger, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, an assistant professor of doctoral nursing at Washburn University School of Nursing in Topeka, Kansas, and a small-town family NP.
"It's really hard to relocate a provider who has never experienced rural living or who doesn’t have a sense of community in a rural entity," she says. "Rather than spending those additional funds outside and trying to recruit it, if you can recruit within and then bring them back, retention is much greater, at least in my experience."
Collaboration is key
The $2.6 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) continues an initial grant from 2019 that supported 20 DNP students in collaboration with the same to health systems, says Katherine Moran, DNP, RN, CDE, FAADE, associate dean for KCON graduate programs and research. She also is the principal investigator and project director for the grant.
One key to the grant's success has been the partnership among the health systems and KCON, Moran says.
"Both McLaren and Trinity Health Muskegon are recruiting from the communities these nurses will serve," Moran said. "These are working nurses who have expressed a desire to enhance their education in primary care, mental health, or substance use disorder care."
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
GVSU’s grant focuses on educating NPs for rural or underserved areas, primary care, or mental health.
The program will recruit and educate 37 nurses from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds.
A homegrown approach to recruiting locals within their own communities seems to create more success.