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Expanding advanced practice in rural South Carolina

In 2019, USC College of Nursing was awarded a $2.4 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Grant increased the number of students trained to be family nurse practitioners (FNPs) in rural and underserved areas in South Carolina. The four-year grant also increased the diversity of the FNP student population and workforce in the state.

One step at a time

Nursing students, 45 master’s and 15 doctoral, in the program had immersive clinical rotations in community-based settings in rural and underserved populations of the state. Students also learned specialized skills and received practice-based instruction focusing on the social determinants of health, telehealth delivery and value-based care measures created in partnership with Cooperative Heath that was then applied to a clinical setting.

Of note

In July 2023, the college secured an additional four-year $2.6 million HRSA grant aimed at furthering the advancement of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) training in the underserved rural regions of the state. This grant supports the training of 100 FNP and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) fellows who are carefully chosen to meet the health care needs of these rural communities. Upon graduation, students are then placed back into their home areas to decrease turnover rates in rural health care settings. The first cohort will begin spring 2024.

The possibilities

Under the program's guidance, these aspiring APRNs will engage in rotations at various practice partner sites, affording them invaluable exposure to diverse clinical settings. Notably, this newly awarded four-year grant is expanded to encompass the crucial domain of mental health, a realm where the demand for health care providers is acute, and HRSA has rightfully recognized it as a pivotal aspect of primary care. Mid-Carolina and South Carolina Area Health Education Consortiums (AHEC) will join Cooperative Health as health care workforce partners.

This is a community based instructional program, increasing the number of people we have educated and helping novice providers understand how to access specific care in rural settings.

Principal Investigator and Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Accreditation, Dr. Alicia Ribar

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