In 2009, Xavier University’s School of Nursing received a grant of almost $1.5 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The largest federal grant in the University’s history was awarded through HRSA’s Nurse Education, Practice and Retention (NEPR) program, which addresses the nursing shortage by funding projects that strengthen and enhance the capacity for educating and retaining nurses.
The three-year project has used high-definition video conferencing to provide master’s level education and continuing education credits to nurses working in rural areas. The video conferencing method enables nurses at rural sites to participate in real-time courses with nursing students and faculty who are on Xavier’s campus. Providing rural nurses with access to advanced degrees and continuing education strengthens the nursing workforce and improves nurse retention and quality of patient care.
“For the first year of the program, three rural Ohio health care organizations partnered with Xavier: Brown County Regional HealthCare in Georgetown, OH, Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster, OH, and Wesleyan Senior Living in Elyria, OH,” says Distance Learning Coordinator Debbie Davis. During the second year, the program added Lost Creek Care Center in Lima, OH and Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys, OH. In this third and final year of the grant, two new partners have been added: Mercy Regional Medical Center in Lorain, OH and Mercer Health in Coldwater, OH.
A pilot project for this program was initiated in summer 2008 with Fairfield Medical Center. While six schools of nursing in Ohio have CNL programs, the Fairfield pilot project was the only one that reached out to rural RNs.
“Seven rural Ohio healthcare organizations and their surrounding areas are a part of the Xavier campus thanks to video-conferencing,” says Susan Schmidt, director of Xavier’s School of Nursing. “Real face time with faculty is the advantage of teaching with this state-of-the-art technology. The wonderful goal of being able to reach out to rural Ohio and offer advanced nursing education to RNs and continuing education to all staff levels is being realized with this grant.”
“This new initiative is positively affecting the health of people across Ohio and furthers Xavier’s mission of being men and women for others,” says Xavier President Michael J. Graham, S.J.
The program has admitted 37 students from partner organizations and surrounding areas. Nurses earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and are trained in the new emerging health care role of clinical nurse leader (CNL). The CNL® is a fast emerging nursing role developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in 2004, in collaboration with leaders from the education and practice arenas, to improve the quality of patient care and better prepare nurses to thrive in a complex health care system. Xavier was among the first schools in Ohio to offer a CNL® program.
In addition to being prepared as CNLs, nurses in Xavier’s rural outreach program gain specialized knowledge in informatics, geriatrics and holistic nursing through coursework included in Xavier’s nursing programs and continuing education offerings.
Continuing education (CE) credits are provided through distance learning. Two CE events are offered each year for nurses working in surrounding rural areas each year. Partner organizations are surveyed to determine topics for those CE events. This year, a general studies option will be offered. Nurses will work closely with an advisor to customize their education for their chosen career path.
To learn more about the program, please contact Debbie Davis at 513-745-3148 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program is supported by the Division of Nursing (DN), Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services (DDHS) and Nurse Education Practice and Retention under grant award number D11HP14614-01-00.