BLOOMSBURG — Bloomsburg University’s nursing program received a grant totaling more than $638,000 to educate nurse practitioners who can provide primary care and preventive services within a rural, 10-county region of Pennsylvania.
The funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) Program will provide support to 54 nurses over the next two years.
The grant covers the costs of tuition scholarships, fees and textbooks for students studying to become adult nurse practitioners, said Noreen Chikotas, program director of BU’s nurse practitioner programs and the grant’s project director.
The overall goal of the AENT grant program is to help meet the growing demand for primary care providers and preventive health services which are anticipated with the expansion of health care coverage from the Affordable Care Act and an aging workforce. BU’s grant is designed to specifically address the shortage of primary care providers in Northeast Pennsylvania and Greater Susquehanna Valley. Approximately 34 adult nurse practitioners are expected to graduate from BU’s program by spring of 2014.
According to HRSA, the current primary care workforce of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners is inadequate to meet the growing demand for primary care services. The nation’s projected unmet need for primary care providers could be as large as 63,000 by 2015; the HRSA grant helps address this shortage by providing support to students in primary care nurse practitioner programs.
Chikotas said, “The scholarships will assist in providing the local rural community with well-prepared primary care providers and help students focus on their education to become nurse practitioners. Many of the students were born and raised in the rural region of Northeast Pennsylvania, specifically the Greater Susquehanna River region. It is the perfect fit for them to advance their education and continue to practice at the advanced level in the primary care setting where they have made their homes.”
“The grant is a testament to the commitment Dr. Chikotas has for the students and for the role of the nurse practitioner in primary care,” said Michelle Ficca, chair of BU’s nursing department, “The Bloomsburg University graduates will increase access to much-needed health care services in the region and across the state to fulfill Bloomsburg University’s mission of service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. BU serves approximately 10,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.