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Georgia Southern receives $1.3 million grant to bring nurse practitioners to Georgia’s underserved communities

Georgia Southern University’s School of Nursing received a $1.3 million federal grant for an Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) project that will create innovative academic-practice partnerships to prepare nurse practitioners for service in rural and underserved communities in Southeast Georgia.

The grant will create partnerships between the School of Nursing and five federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in order to increase the number and readiness of family nurse practitioner (FNP) and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) students in Georgia — a state in which 109 of its 159 counties are rural, and 141 of its counties are below the statewide average for doctors per 100,000 residents.

“There is a dire shortage of primary care physicians in Georgia, particularly for people living in rural and impoverished communities,” said Ursula A. Pritham, Ph.D., WHNP-BC, FNP-BC, SANE, associate professor and graduate program director in the School of Nursing. “FNPs and PMHNPs can help fill the gap. The ANEW grant will increase the number of training locations at FQHCs available to Georgia Southern nurse practitioner students and thus increase program capacity. Educating the next generation of nurse practitioners for success in primary care in rural and health professional shortage areas will improve recruitment and retention of primary care providers at FQHCs and improve the health and well-being of uninsured and other vulnerable populations.”

The ANEW project will also provide paid traineeships to nurse practitioner students, many of whom would otherwise not be able to afford graduate school costs. Pritham says these traineeships will benefit the FQHCs as well as the students who learn there.

“ANEW will create a pipeline from nurse practitioner students to nurse practitioner employees in those settings,” she said. “Such a partnership will assist FQHCs in their ability to access and hire additional primary care providers, particularly Georgia Southern graduates familiar with their practice setting, culture and processes, without an extensive start-up period.”

The FQHCs are located throughout Southeast Georgia:
East Georgia Healthcare Center, which will include its 10 satellite clinics throughout the region
Christ Community Health Services in Augusta, Georgia
J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center in Savannah, Georgia
Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care in Savannah
Appling Healthcare System/Southern Peaches in Baxley, Georgia

In addition to providing primary care in fixed facilities, East Georgia Healthcare Center offers a mobile unit to reach patients closer to home. J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center and Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care also provide psychiatric-mental health and behavioral health services, in addition to primary care services.

The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Workforce, Division of Nursing and Public Health. Pritham served as the ANEW grant principal investigator/director, along with co-authors Kathryn Hoehn Anderson, Ph.D., ARNP, PMHCNS-BC, LMFT, professor and director of the Center for Nursing Scholarship & Research, and Lee Broxton, scholarship and research specialist at the Center for Nursing Scholarship & Research.

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