Grant Supports School of Nursing Program

CUA’s School of Nursing has won a $560,000 federal grant to support a new master’s degree program in community/public health, designed to provide disadvantaged communities with better health care.

The Department of Health and Human Services this June awarded the grant to CUA. Over the three years of the grant, the university hopes to turn out 25 nurses with master’s degrees, eligibility for certification as community/public health specialists, and a burning desire to help people who lack access to good health services.

"Community health care is at a crisis in our community," said Sister Rosemary Donley, S.C., professor of nursing and project director. "This program will prepare certified specialists who reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of the community, and who have the skills and desire to improve the health of chronically underserved people."

Nurses with advanced training can offer better preventive health care, health education and primary care to members of the community who often delay treatment or turn to hospital emergency rooms because they lack access to primary care, she said.

The grant money helps the school recruit students, supports faculty teaching and funds an educational program designed to interest minority students in community and public health careers.

"We are especially pleased to offer this program because this work reflects Catholic University's mission of service to the Church and the community," Sister Donley said.

CUA’s partners in the program will be hospitals, clinics and other agencies serving the poor in the Washington, D.C., area, where nurses will gain clinical experience while attending classes.

Students in the program will earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree and be eligible for certification as community/public health advanced nurse specialists. The program will emphasize cultural sensitivity in teaching and practice. At least half of the nurses who enter the program will be minorities, Sr. Donley noted.

As part of their education, participants in the program will learn to be advocates for a population that has been without a voice in the nation’s health care agenda, she said.

Another component of the program is "Kids to College," an initiative to interest more minority students in the district in careers in nursing, especially community/public health nursing. Nurse clubs and summer camps will be established at St. Anthony’s elementary school, St. Elizabeth Seton High School and Archbishop Carroll High School.