The University of Southern Indiana has received a $1.2 million grant to boost its College of Nursing and Health Professions. The funding will be used over three years to increase the number of clinical experiences for students studying nursing, respiratory therapy, food and nutrition and social work. July 17, 2014

News Release

Evansville, Ind. — The College of Nursing and Health Professions at the University of Southern Indiana has received a three-year, $1.2 million grant to teach nursing and health professions students how to practice collaboratively as effective members of healthcare teams. The grant was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) division of Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Teams will be dedicated to improving the health of patients with high cost, complex medical, social and economic needs related to hypertension, respiratory disease, mental health and diabetes. Partnering with USI on the project are the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Marion, Illinois, which serves 52 counties in southern Illinois, southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky; and three USI nurse-managed health centers in the Glenwood, Cedar Hall and Lodge neighborhoods in Evansville, Indiana.

Through the HRSA grant, the USI College of Nursing and Health Professions will become a Nexus Innovations Incubator via a partnership with the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education located at the University of Minnesota. The center will provide mentorship to implement, build and evaluate the program.

“Our goal is to advance positive health outcomes for veterans and medically-underserved patients by cultivating interprofessional collaborative practice in urban and rural primary care settings,” said Dr. Ann White, dean of USI’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. “This grant will help us increase the number and quality of interprofessional educational clinical experiences for students in a variety of USI programs, including nursing, respiratory therapy, food and nutrition and social work.”

“We’ve been laying the foundation for interprofessional collaborative practice at USI for the past three years, and this grant will enable us to move forward in some new and exciting ways,” said Ruth Metzger, coordinator of interprofessional education in the College of Nursing and Health Professions. “As the program grows, we’ll integrate more professions and more partners.”

White already has begun discussion with administrators and faculty of Indiana University School of Medicine – Evansville regarding medical students participating in the collaborative process during year two of the grant.

With the Veterans Administration, USI students will work with interprofessional practice teams using the VA’s Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model. According to the VA, three major categories of health conditions accounted for by veterans are cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease and mental health issues. “In addition to World War II veterans, those who served in Korea and Vietnam are at the age to develop chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Vaughn DeCoster, associate professor of social work at USI. “Younger veterans suffer higher rates of traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress syndrome. This grant will allow our students to better understand this unique population in the VA’s facilities in a three-state area.”

In 2011, USI received HRSA funding to develop nurse-managed health centers in three medically-underserved neighborhoods in Evansville. Through this latest grant, student teams will work at these centers, focusing on treating and preventing chronic conditions, which are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

“Many complications of these conditions and hospital admissions can be avoided with appropriate preventive measures,” said Dr. Connie Swenty, chair of USI’s undergraduate nursing program and primary investigator for the HRSA grant. “We expect that as a Nexus Innovations Incubator we’ll be able to form competent, interprofessional teams that are ideally suited to work with patients at the Glenwood, Lodge and Cedar Hall health centers. These clinical sites will provide a patient-centered experience for our students in a collaborative atmosphere.”

Source: University of Southern Indiana

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