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University Of Southern Indiana Expands Primary Care Nursing With $2M Grant

The University of Southern Indiana is partnering with rural hospitals in its region to train student nurses in primary care roles. - Photo courtesy of University of Southern Indiana

The University of Southern Indiana is partnering with rural hospitals in its region to train student nurses in primary care roles.

The university received a four year, $2 million federal grant to help support the program, with the opportunity to renew funding. The grant will financially support the school assigning nursing students to areas where there are nursing shortages.

“This grant gives us the opportunity to train our students, who will be the registered nurses and workforce of tomorrow, in primary care and how to manage a clinic ambulatory care setting and address those patients who need that type,” says College of Nursing and Health Professions assistant dean Connie Swenty. “Particularly care in prevention and maintaining wellness.”

Swenty says health care providers now place more emphasis on primary care, and that has created a need for more primary care nurses in some places.

“We have not done a good job up to this point of addressing that venue, simply because it wasn’t a need at the time, our need was in acute care,” says Swenty.

Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana, will be a part of the first year, serving the seven surrounding counties with 31 health care clinics. Gibson General Hospital in Princeton, Indiana, will join the collaboration in the second year with four primary care clinics. The project will also work with both Gibson and Dubois County Health Departments and the Southwest Indiana Area Health Education Center.

She says the program will provide inter-professional education by pairing the student nurses with medical students in residency program.

“I think that’s a perfect marriage is to have residents who will be their future physicians in these clinics, plus nurses and nursing students who could be their future workforce – working together, collaborating and understanding how to best meet the needs of those patients,” Swenty says.

By exposing students to this side of the occupation, the goal is that some might pursue a similar role after graduation.

“So as the student is exposed to that rural area and to those other clinical sites, they better understand the opportunities that exist for them,” Swenty says.

The curriculum is being put together this fall with the program starting in January.

The grant is funded through the Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention division of the Health Resources and Services Administration. That administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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