New University of Alabama at Birmingham Nursing Program Addresses Need for Health Care in Rural and Underserved Communities

New University of Alabama at Birmingham Nursing Program Addresses Need for Health Care in Rural and Underserved Communities

A new nursing program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is aiming to improve access to quality health care in rural and underserved communities. Alabama has a shortage of primary and specialty health care providers, and according to the Bureau of Health Workforce, 66 of 67 counties in the state lack enough dentists and mental health care providers to meet population needs.

The new program will provide 111 students from across the state with firsthand training on how to provide care in rural and underserved areas. The students are from multiple universities and have been selected to participate in the first class of Alabama Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) scholars. The scholars come from a wide range of backgrounds including medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacology, social work, and education.

Students in the program will learn about rural medicine and how to serve underserved communities both in and out of the classroom by participating in service projects. UAB plans to train, place, and keep students with varying backgrounds in underserved areas to ensure adequate health care is provided to all people across the state. Diversity is crucial to improving access to health care, which is why UAB has recruited a diverse new cohort of students.

Michael Faircloth, MD, the director of the Alabama Area Health Education Centers program and the medical and lab director of Student Health Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tells UAB.edu, “The focus of the program is to take students who are pursuing careers in various health professions and make sure they receive a portion of their clinical training in rural and underserved areas. Many people think of doctors and nurses when they hear the term health professions, but a successful health care workforce needs more than doctors and nurses. It needs dentists, psychologists, pharmacists, social workers and technologists.”

UAB’s new Alabama Area Health Education Centers scholars will be enrolled in the program for two years, working with leaders in the state’s five AHEC regions. To learn more about UAB’s new program to address health care needs in rural and underserved communities across Alabama, visit here.

University of Alabama at Birmingham Offers Nurse Practitioner Residency to Improve Access to Mental Health Care for Children

University of Alabama at Birmingham Offers Nurse Practitioner Residency to Improve Access to Mental Health Care for Children

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing and Children’s of Alabama recently partnered on a new one-year residency program for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner graduates to meet the growing need for mental health care providers for children and adolescents in the state.

Children’s of Alabama Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Deb Wesley tells UAB.edu, “Children’s needs more practitioners to cover the volume of patients we have in psychiatry. The demand for services far exceeds our capacity, and how to meet this need has been an ongoing discussion. This residency is an example of the power of the partnership between Children’s and the UAB School of Nursing, and the impact, working together, we can have on children and families in Alabama.”

UAB’s nurse residency program has two main goals: to improve the quality and quantity of clinical experience for new Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner graduates and current students, and to increase access to care. Improving the post-graduate experience for nurse practitioners makes them more likely to transition to the demands of practice with increased competency.

Residents in the program will spend a year being mentored by Durand and Children’s of Alabama Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Residency Program Co-Director Shelley Lauterbach while also seeing and treating patients. They will receive an enhanced interprofessional practice experience by working with psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, pharmacists, and case managers, making them better prepared to address child and adolescent mental health needs after residency.

To learn more about the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s partnership with Children’s of Alabama to offers a nurse practitioner residency program to improve access to mental health for children and adolescents, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Lindsey Moore Westenhofer Inspired to Become Nursing Director of the US Space and Rocket Center

Nurse of the Week: Lindsey Moore Westenhofer Inspired to Become Nursing Director of the US Space and Rocket Center

Our Nurse of the Week is Lindsey Westenhofer, the Director of Nursing for the US Space and Rocket Center (USSRC), a career path she chose after shadowing her mom at a young age while her mother was a nursing student.

Westenhofer tells UAH.edu, “My mother began her graduate nursing education when I was a young girl, so I have known since I can remember that I had an insatiable interest in all of the natural sciences but, in particular, anything relating to the human body. I remember begging to listen in on her nursing school conference calls. And, I frequently got into trouble for pulling out her books so I could ‘read’ them.”

It’s no surprise that Westenhofer decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps and earn a nursing degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Nursing. She completed her preceptorship in pediatrics, which has remained a theme in her nursing career.

Westenhofer is now the Director of Nursing for USSRC where she oversees 50 staff members and over 1,000 campers per week during peak seasons. The USSRC facility holds two on-campus nursing clinics for use by campers, chaperones, museum guests, and employees, and their nursing staff provides emergent response coverage for the entire campus.

In addition to serving as director, Westenhofer is also responsible for educating staff on relevant healthcare topics and managing the instruction of American Heart Association Basic Life Support courses. She also designed and implemented a Medical Alert System for the USSRC campus, which she now teaches.

To learn more about Lindsey Westenhofer, the Director of Nursing for the US Space and Rocket Center, and how she was inspired to pursue a career in nursing after shadowing her mother from a young age, visit here.

Nurses of the Week: University of Alabama at Birmingham to Help Establish Primary Care RN Workforce

Nurses of the Week: University of Alabama at Birmingham to Help Establish Primary Care RN Workforce

Our Nurses of the Week are the nurses from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing who received a $2.8 million grant which will help to establish a primary care registered nurse (RN) workforce. The grant will help to improve health outcomes in medically underserved areas in Alabama and educate undergraduate nursing students and practicing RNs in team-focused primary care.

The grant will fund a project called, “Building a Resilient Primary Care Registered Nurse Workforce for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control in Alabama,” which is funded by a Nurse Education, Practice, Quality, and Retention grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration and will focus on training and sustaining baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses in medically underserved areas.

The project will be led by principal investigator Maria Shirey, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Acute, Chronic, and Continuing Care.The role of the BSN-prepared RN is integral to care coordination and management of patient transitions from hospital to home but registered nurses have disappeared from most community-based primary care settings, often replaced by less trained medical assistants. When registered nurses are found in primary care settings, they often are not practicing to the full extent of their education and training.

Shirey tells UAB.edu, “Alabama and the United States have a primary care service deficit, especially in medically underserved areas, and BSN-prepared registered nurses are capable of assuming greater responsibility for care management for patients with chronic conditions across all levels of prevention, as well as follow-up and complex specialty care coordination for those discharged from the hospital. BSN-prepared registered nurses can provide safe, high-quality care to at-risk populations, such as patients with multiple chronic conditions, while also managing the costs of such care.”

To learn more about the $2.8 million grant received by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing to help establish a primary care RN workforce in medically underserved areas, visit here.

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Opens New Facility

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Opens New Facility

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has recently opened its new state-of-the-art School of Nursing building. With a 72,000-square-foot expansion and renovation, complete with the latest technology-enhanced classrooms and competency labs, the School of Nursing building is already being put to good use by students, faculty and staff alike.

Doreen Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean of the UAB School of Nursing and Fay B. Ireland endowed Chair in Nursing, says the excitement is evident as everyone discovers how to live and learn in the new facility. “Our students and faculty are learning and collaborating in open, light-filled spaces throughout the day. Classrooms are structured to engage students in flipped classrooms, using video streaming and sharing through computers and other digital devices. Faculty have their own windowed offices rather than working in groups as well as convenient conference rooms for meeting with students throughout the building.”

The technology provided within the new facility is playing a major role in furthering nursing education, research and clinical practice, by providing resources that encourage student engagement and collaboration. Classrooms have device-sharing technology, smartboards, and short throw projectors that allow students to more easily share their screens with instructors and fellow students. The Innovation Collaboratory, a special classroom within the new UAB School of Nursing facility, gives students the chance to share ideas and information through interactive workstations with streaming capabilities.

Jacqueline Moss, Ph.D, Associate Dean for Technology and Innovation in the School of Nursing, says the technology is designed to maximize interaction and engagement of students. “We are able to stream video from simulations happening in our nursing competency suites, from presenters at a distance, and engage with patients where they live. In addition, all classrooms are equipped with device sharing hardware and software that allows students to work in groups and share that work with the entire class by sharing their work on their personal computers.”

These virtual educational experiences made possible by the new technology provide education and professional development, and can be used to reach rural patients through telehealth research and clinical activities. Health care for the medically underserved in rural and urban Alabama will continue to grow and improve as a result.

Dean Harper notes that in addition to gaining new technology and space, the programs within the school are growing in response to the continuous need for highly educated, compassionate and competent nurses. “We have expanded our pre-licensure programs at the baccalaureate and master’s level to accommodate more than 60 new nursing pre-licensure students annually. Likewise, given the critical need for nursing administrators, managers, informaticians and executive leaders, our nursing health care systems major is being tailored to recruit nursing leaders and innovators from across the nation. We have also developed new coursework in perioperative nursing, transplant nursing, design thinking and biomedical informatics research to be offered.”

To learn more about the new, expanded UAB School of Nursing building, click here.

Two Alabama Universities Announce Joint Nursing Science PhD Program

Two Alabama Universities Announce Joint Nursing Science PhD Program

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and University of Alabama (UA) Colleges of Nursing recently announced a new joint Nursing Science PhD program. The program will be implemented in summer 2019 and will be the first online joint Nursing Science PhD program in the state.

Dr. Marsha Howell Adams, dean of the UAH College of Nursing, tells UAH.edu, “The UAH College of Nursing is very excited to be partnering with the UA Capstone College of Nursing to deliver a much-needed, high-quality online nursing science PhD program. Only 23 percent of the 125 nursing PhD programs in the US are fully online. This program will meet the preferences and needs of a target population focused on an asynchronous delivery model.”

The primary goal of the joint PhD program is to prepare nurse scholars to advance nursing science by generating new knowledge through interprofessional research initiatives and to improve the health of rural and medically underserved populations. The program will be fully supported by the resources of UAH and UA, and in return, the program will increase both institutions’ productivity and innovation in research and scholarship, and enhance graduate-level programming and increase enrollment.

Students will be dual enrolled, and faculty will be shared to deliver a high-quality, research-based program. The program will primarily be in an online format, combined with a five-day on-site summer intensive alternating between each university’s campus. The flexible learning model is expected to attract students across the country, who will be prepared through interprofessional research initiatives to engage in nursing science.

Program courses will include Informatics for Healthcare Teams, Ethical Conduct and Legal Issues in Research, Healthcare Policy for Rural and Medically Underserved Populations, Epidemiology in Rural and Medically Underserved Populations, and more.

To learn more about the University of Alabama in Huntsville and University of Alabama joint Nursing Science PhD program, visit here.

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