URI nursing project boosts student experience, enhances primary care

$2.7 million HRSA grant fuels Advanced Nursing Education Workforce program

Media Contact: Patrick Luce, 401-874-4046 |
URI Nursing Professor Denise Coppa

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — July 29, 2019 — Nurse practitioner students in the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing will get more hands-on experience, and patients at two community health centers will benefit from their expertise, thanks to a $2.7 million, four-year grant aimed at enhancing the nursing workforce and strengthening health care in the community.

The Advanced Nursing Education Workforce program, funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), enhances the academic clinical partnerships between the College and two community health centers — Thundermist Health Center and Providence Community Health Center. Students in the Adult Gerontology, Psychiatric Mental Health and Family Nurse Practitioner programs, based at the Nursing Education Center in Providence, will be placed in the health centers to provide primary care and behavioral health services, under the supervision of professionals in the centers.

Associate Professor Denise Coppa expects 48 to 56 students will be placed in one or both of the centers over the four-year period, each working two days a week, while maintaining their studies as full-time students. The grant includes money for traineeships, paying the tuition of 14 students in the program each year. The students will also gain greater experience and advice from a cohort of preceptors that will be recruited as part of the program to mentor nurse practitioner students. The nursing college aims to increase the number of preceptors by 20 percent.

“This program will give experience to these nurse practitioner students so they are prepared to work in community health centers when they graduate,” Coppa said. “The project builds upon an established commitment to support academic and practice achievements of students and community-based preceptors in the areas of practice with medically underserved individuals both in community health centers and in patients’ homes.”

As part of the program, the community health centers’ home-based care programs will be expanded. Students will join professional nurse practitioners on home visits, providing direct primary care to patients too ill or disabled to travel to a center, helping reduce hospital and emergency room visits. In addition to full primary care services, the students will also provide end-of-life services where appropriate, helping patients create Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment.

“This project is a huge benefit not just for the students, but for practicing health care providers and the health care system as a whole,” Coppa said. “We’re increasing and transforming the health care workforce to provide more primary care services for the medically underserved population.”