The Catholic University of America

July 19, 2006

CUA Nursing School Awarded $778,077 Federal Grant Funds Awarded to Educate Community/Public Health Nurse Specialists for Immigrant Communities

From left: Sister Rosemary Donley, Sister Mary Jean Flaherty and Eileen Sarsfield were awarded a $778,077 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration.

WASHINGTON - The Catholic University of America's School of Nursing has been awarded a $778,077 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration to prepare community/public health clinical nurse specialists to work with immigrant and refugee populations, with a focus on global health. The grant marks the fourth time in six years that the federal government has funded CUA Community/Public Health nursing faculty initiatives to address the health care of vulnerable people.

The three-year grant, titled "Immigrant, Refugee, and Global Health Clinical Nurse Specialist Program" will fund a graduate program that educates nurses about a range of population-based health subjects through coursework and applied clinical work with partners throughout the Washington-metro area, including Bread for the City, Christ House and Upper Cardoza Health Center. Grant money will go toward enhancing the program's curriculum as well as recruiting new students. Faculty hope to more than double enrollment by year three of the grant.

"Nurses who understand the complexities of caring for immigrants and refugees, and who also understand the health policy issues associated with their care, have the ability to better meet society's dual obligations to care for all, while advancing the national common good," said Nalini Jairath, dean of CUA's nursing school.

Nursing students will study not just the principles of treating immigrant and refugee populations, but also the theory and policies that provide a backdrop for the health care of this community. Nurses working toward this advanced practice specialty will learn about social ethics, health financing and how immigrant mothers adjust to a new country and negotiate a health care network, ultimately applying this knowledge, hands-on, in urban settings.

"The students must understand the political, social and policy aspects that are informing the current immigration debate in this country," said Sister Rosemary Donley, professor of nursing and one of the grant's authors. "Washington is an ideal place to do this, because not only do we have the [immigrant/refugee] populations, we have the policy people."

The graduate program also seeks to attract immigrated students as a means of diversifying the nurse force in urban areas, providing immigrant and refugee patients with caregivers who share a similar cultural and linguistic background. Seventy percent of the program's currently enrolled students are from varied racial and ethnic backgrounds, according to Eileen Sarsfield, the program's project manager.

Donley estimates that only 12 percent of the more than 2 million nurses in the U.S. workforce come from minority racial and ethnic groups. This makes the chances of an immigrant finding a provider who looks like him, talks like him, or understands him, extremely low, Donley said. Recruitment of minorities is a top priority for the graduate program and a point grant writers stressed in their proposal.

Donley said the objective of the program is clear: "To improve the health care and health status of underserved people…at the level of practice, of education, of prevention and of policy."

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The Catholic University of America School of Nursing has long been one of the nation's leading nursing schools. Founded in 1932, the school has graduated more than 8,000 nurses, many of whom now hold top leadership positions in hospitals and health care settings, academia, the military and government. Offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, the School of Nursing is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. It partners with more than 130 clinical agencies in the Washington, D.C., area to provide students with a broad and diverse exposure to nursing, multicultural health-care practices and state-of-the-art research.

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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,