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Our Nurse of the Week is Dr. Robin Lawson, senior associate dean for academic programs in the University of Alabama (UA) Capstone College of Nursing, who helped to facilitate the creation of BAMA-Care, a program that will enable a nurse practitioner pipeline to rural communities in Alabama.

BAMA-Care was created in an effort to address one of the top health concerns in the state: access to medical care. According to UA.edu, the majority of counties in Alabama are designated health provider shortage areas, and UA plans to combat this issue by training primary care nurse practitioners to work in rural and underserved areas across the state.

In response to an Advanced Nursing Education Workforce grant proposal submitted by Dr. Lawson, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded $650,000 for this academic year to support the program’s launch.

The funding will allow the BAMA-Care program to prepare nurse practitioner students through academic and clinical training via an academic-practice partnership with Whatley Health Services, one of the largest federally qualified health centers in Alabama.

Lawson tells UA.edu, “The goal of the program is to increase the number of primary care nurse practitioners working in rural and underserved communities. We will create longitudinal immersive clinical experiences in rural and underserved areas for our family and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner students to facilitate their employment in those same settings upon graduation.”

BAMA-Care is in the process of recruiting a diverse pool of 36 primary care nurse practitioner students over a two-year period to increase diversity in the healthcare workforce. The program calls for at least 50 percent of the participants to be from underrepresented minority groups.

Participants will be placed in Whatley Health Services clinics across West Alabama and other healthcare facilities around the state. Students will receive support for tuition, books, and living expenses. After graduating, students will be eligible to take the family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certification exams.

Lawson considers it an honor to have the capability to improve access to care in Alabama. To learn more about the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing’s BAMA-Care program to increase access to primary care in rural Alabama, visit here.

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