College of Nursing and Health Professions receives grants for student partnerships

Rhonda Wheeler, Community Engagement Manager

The College of Nursing and Health Professions has received two grants amounting to nearly $5.4 million this year.

The first grant is from the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP). The grant promotes student work with community members to provide better care for elders in the tristate area. The Health Professions will be working with the Deaconess Residency Program and SWIRCA, a community agency that provides community services to the older population. Students will be able to work side by side with residents so they can help provide better care in that area.

The second grant is from the Nurse Practitioner Residency Program. With this grant, USI will be partnering with ECHO Community Healthcare, Southwestern Behavioral Health, Tulip Tree Family Health and Good Samaritan Family Health Center. Nurse practitioners will be working in one of the four clinics to get hands-on experience in their field before they graduate.

USI’s Health Professions already worked with these partnerships in the past, but with these grants, it’s more of an expansion. The GWEP grant can help fund some projects within the organizations that will ultimately provide better care for elders in the community.

Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions Dr. Ann White believes the reason the demand for nurse practitioners in the region is so high is a lack of physicians.

“Particularly in primary care, we need more individuals, and when I say primary care, that’s when you go to your physician’s office because you need an annual checkup or you have an ear infection or the flu.” Dr. White said. “Some of these types of things can be handled very efficiently utilizing a nurse practitioner. When you don’t have enough physicians, it delays the time you’re going to be able to see someone and therefore you have to wait on treatment.”

Dr. White said that the grants change things for the College of Nursing and Health Professions this year. Students will be involved in a lot of projects. The college will be able to do things they’ve always wanted to do, such as getting a greater workforce into healthcare, particularly when caring for elders.

“This is the first time in history, I think, of the university that we’ve ever been able to get that much funding from federal grants so this is a really unique opportunity for us and we’re going to be working as hard as we can to ensure we’re as successful as we can be.” Dr. White said.

She said that neither grant will fund the MAGIC (multi-ability, multi-generational inclusive community) project, which is a pilot project that culminated in the construction of the Minka house. The Minka building is the world’s first laboratory dedicated to the study of independence. The purpose of it is to create a house that is best suited for aging people so they can maintain their independence. However, the GWEP grant will be using Minka in the areas that smart technology is needed.