The Board of Directors of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation has awarded a grant to the USC College of Nursing in the amount of $405,000 for support of Leveraging Mental Health Provider Access in Underserved Counties in South Carolina. Of that, $155,000 is allocated for scholarships to students residing in underserved counties. Scholarships will be granted on a semester to semester basis for students with a requirement that they practice in South Carolina for at least one year following graduation from the program.
“We have a real problem with disparities in access to mental health care in South Carolina, and part of our work at the College of Nursing is to increase access for residents to high quality mental health care,” said Tena McKinney, director of the PMHNP program. “Seventeen counties in our state do not have mental health providers who are educated, trained, licensed and certified to provide management of mental health disorders.”
The first students to receive the scholarship will enroll in the program beginning in the fall 2015 semester. Additional students will be recruited to join the program for spring and summer 2016.
The SC Department of Mental Health, the SC Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and other thought leaders comprise an advisory panel that will guide the growth of the program. “It’s important that the College of Nursing is strongly linked to our clinical partners so that we can continue to expand access across the state, which is our bottom line. We go to great lengths to help South Carolinians and this is just one example of that,” said McKinney.
The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.