As part of its continuing efforts to address rural health care in the state and region, South Dakota State University’s College of Nursing recently received a two-year grant for more than $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The college will use the funds to develop immersive clinical traineeships in rural and/or underserved primary care settings. To help create these opportunities, the College of Nursing has partnered with Sanford Health to recruit, engage and develop new clinical preceptors and practicum sites, and design innovative skills workshops with the Sanford mobile simulation unit.
The grant will cover tuition, fees, books and a stipend for up to 16 family nurse practitioner students each year. Those students must be enrolled full time and in one of three practicum courses, and agree to a longitudinal clinical training experience in a rural and/or underserved setting.
“This project is intentionally designed to address the gap in primary care providers for rural and underserved areas, by providing education and clinical experiences for our family nurse practitioner students that focuses on the unique role and skill set of the rural provider.,” said Assistant Professor Victoria Britson, principal investigator of the grant. “We’re looking for our graduates to be more comfortable with the higher level of care often expected of them in a rural area.
“The selected students will have an immersion clinical experience with a preceptor. That experience will help them learn what it means to be a rural provider,” she continued.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration has designated 44 of South Dakota’s 66 counties as health professional shortage areas.
“This project will strengthen the quality of advanced practice nursing education by intentionally focusing on rural and/or underserved populations, ultimately improving access to care and patient outcomes for these populations in South Dakota and the region,” said Nancy Fahrenwald, the college’s dean.
“The benefits of this project will be fully realized when the graduates are connected with employment opportunities throughout the region,” said Mona Hohman, vice president of nursing and clinical services for Sanford Health. “Sanford is proud to serve rural locations and we know that the graduates can have long, fulfilling careers serving the health needs of rural communities.”
Additionally, the innovative approach will place family nurse practitioner students in rural locations for the majority of their clinical education experiences.
“Traditional education has left many recent graduates feeling less confident when faced with emergency department, hospital rounding or long-term care facility work,” said Hohman. “This important clinical-academic partnership and rural immersion experience will give them a new level of experience and, in the end, make them better prepared to serve the vast health needs of rural areas."