July 17, 2002
The Catholic University School of Nursing will be recruiting and educating more nurses about providing primary health care to disadvantaged families and communities, with support from a $769,800 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Nursing.
Entitled “Promoting Healthy Families in Vulnerable Communities,” the project is designed to recruit, educate and motivate nurses to work as family nurse practitioners in impoverished minority communities where health care is limited and rates of disease, mortality and other indicators of poor health far exceed those in more prosperous areas. Program directors intend to prepare nurses for a combined role: as a family nurse practitioner and a community health clinical nurse specialist. The former provides primary care, such as assessment, diagnosis and management of health problems, including medication prescriptions. The latter focuses on the community as client, assessing social and environmental problems which impact the health of vulnerable families and communities.
“Nurses are in great demand everywhere, and the shortage is particularly critical in disadvantaged urban areas such as D.C.,” said Eileen Sarsfield, one of the grant proposal’s co-authors, who will serve as project manager for the program. “This program is designed to recruit and educate culturally sensitive nurses to specifically meet the health needs of minority and underserved communities.”
The grant, to be awarded over three years, will provide staff and faculty to recruit and educate six nurses each year. Students will earn master’s degrees with joint credentials from Catholic University’s family nurse practitioner and community/public health programs. Graduates have the option of being certified in both disciplines.
The program goal is to recruit at least 50 percent of the students from minority communities. Less than 12 percent of registered nurses, 11 percent of nurse practitioners and 5 percent of clinical specialists come from minority groups, according to Sarsfield. “Having more minority health care professionals in disadvantaged communities will increase trust and improve access and utilization of health care,” she added.
In addition to providing graduate education to nurses, the program also has a focus on early recruitment of young people into health professions, and will continue the three health career clubs CUA operates at local inner-city elementary, junior high and high schools. These health career clubs encourage children to consider careers in health care by featuring speakers, presentations and offering day camps, workshops and training on first aid and other topics.
Revised: Feb. 18, 2002
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