Nurse practitioners (NPs) can help meet the rising demand for health care due to older population growth, especially in underserved populations. They are highly skilled and educated clinicians dedicated to improving public health through a wide range of primary care services, providing a holistic approach that combines culture and community.
Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing is playing a key role in ensuring that South Florida has an adequate workforce of NPs. The College has received a $1.4 million grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), for an evidence-based curriculum to prepare NPs to deliver relevant, culturally competent, and skilled primary care services for underserved populations in Broward County.
FAU’s College of Nursing has established new academic and practice partnerships with Broward Health, Holy Cross Hospital, and Broward Community and Family Health Centers, Inc. to train and ultimately employ NPs who will care for patients in Broward County’s underserved populations. Broward County has a total population of more than 1.9 million, and the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Blacks represent 29.7 percent of its population while Hispanics represent 28.7 percent of its population (2016).
Through the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Program of HRSA, FAU’s “Recruitment, Education, and Employment of Primary Care Providers” (REEP) project will support academic partnerships and traineeships to nurses who are pursuing advanced degrees as primary care NPs. This workforce project provides advanced education traineeships for the Bachelor of Science to the Doctor of Nurse Practice (BSN-DNP), Program Family (FNP) and Adult Gerontologic Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) students.
“Together with our outstanding partners and my collaborators from the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, we will co-create culturally and linguistically appropriate learning experiences for BSN to DNP students in primary care settings with patients from disadvantaged, underserved, racial and minority populations in Broward County,” said Susan Bulfin, DNP, ARNP, FNP-BC, program director, associate professor and DNP director in FAU’s College of Nursing.
Bulfin’s collaborators on the REEP are Karethy Edwards, Dr.P.H., APRN, FNP-BC, a professor and associate dean of academic programs, and Lynne Dunphy, Ph.D., FNP-BC, a professor and associate dean for practice and community engagement, both in FAU’s College of Nursing.
Implementation of the REEP will involve critical linkages between academia and practice and will operate through key personnel that include a project director, project coordinator, practice liaisons and clinical preceptors. Clinical immersion will occur over five semesters of supervised practicum experiences providing care for underserved populations. During their last two practicum semesters, BSN to DNP students will work with faculty and practice partners to develop a DNP project focused on improving a specific health outcome or outcomes affecting target populations in their practice sites.
“We are very grateful to HRSA for providing us with this important grant, which is truly a testament to the vital work that Drs. Bulfin, Edwards and Dunphy are conducting to create a workforce of trainee graduates who will emerge as competent nurse practitioners who will provide quality primary care for those they are privileged to serve,” said Marlaine Smith, Ph.D., dean of FAU’s College of Nursing. “Our faculty are known for their work in health equity, holistic health, transforming practice environments, and healthy aging. Our graduates also have assumed leadership positions in many primary care practice environments, increasing the supply of nurses to positively impact Healthy People 2020Objectives for the Nation .”
Broward Health is one of the ten largest public health care systems in the nation and is a medical safety net for Broward County residents. Holy Cross Hospital (HCH), a member of CHE Trinity Health, is a full-service, non-profit Catholic hospital, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy. HCH operates Holy Cross Medical Group Mercy Family Life Center in Pompano Beach, which has been recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Level 3 Certified Patient Center Medical Home. Broward Community and Family Health Centers, Inc. is a non-profit organization focused on preventive care and health education to promote healthier lifestyles in the communities they serve. Primary care services are available at four sites to families, businesses and individuals regardless of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ability to pay.
Between 1970 and 2010, Florida’s population increased by 196 percent (Florida Health Department, 2015). With a current population of 20 million, Florida ranks third in population among states in the nation. Furthermore, over the past 10 years, Florida’s aging population grew at a faster rate than the nation. Over the years, NPs have provided access and quality primary care to augment the state’s supply of primary care providers, which helps to meet the growing demand. In 22 states and the District of Columbia, NPs can operate their own private practices without a physician’s oversight. There are approximately 222,000 NPs nationwide (2016).