Lauder Donates $125 Mil for Tuition-Free Program to Recruit and Deploy NPs in Underserved Communities

Lauder Donates $125 Mil for Tuition-Free Program to Recruit and Deploy NPs in Underserved Communities

This fall, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) is launching the Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Program, which will recruit and prepare a diverse cadre of expert nurse practitioners (NPs) to provide primary care to individuals and families in underserved communities across the U.S.

Largest gift ever

The $125 million donation by Leonard A. Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of The Estee Lauder Companies, to create this first-of-its-kind, tuition-free Program is the largest gift ever to an American nursing school. Mr. Lauder is a Penn alumnus. The gift comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the nation’s acute shortage of primary care providers, and persisting inequities in access to quality healthcare.

“This is the most timely and consequential gift not only for our university but for our country. It is unprecedented in its potential to address America’s most critical need of providing primary health care to all who currently lack it by investing in nurses,” said former Penn President Amy Gutmann.

“Growing the number of nurse practitioners who are prepared and committed to working in underserved areas is the most practical and inspiring way to ensuring a healthier country. I am grateful and honored that Leonard would make this gift to Penn Nursing, and thrilled to know that it will have an immediate impact that will last far into the future.”

Nurse practitioners are leaders on the front lines of care, a role never more important as Americans confront a primary healthcare shortage in their communities. With their advanced clinical training and graduate education, nurse practitioners have the knowledge and skill to supervise and manage critical aspects of care in a decision-making capacity, from patient diagnosis, to ordering and interpreting tests, to prescribing medication. Nurse practitioners deliver high-quality primary care to people of all ages, such as treating common illnesses, managing chronic conditions, and providing preventive care that helps patients stay healthy.

Nurse practitioners are also able to take on key leadership roles, from managing and operating walk-in or community clinics to leading interdisciplinary teams within health systems. The new Program will better the lives of patients and communities most in need, while providing a pathway for the many nurses interested in advanced education who may not otherwise have the means to pursue it.

The Program

  • Structure: Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Fellows will enroll full-time in a two-year, rigorous Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program at Penn Nursing.
  • Community Practice: Fellows will complete at least 50 percent of their clinical education at community partner sites in the greater Philadelphia area that provide direct patient care, an invaluable experience that will prepare Fellows to meet the complex needs of patients and families throughout their careers. Every Fellow will be expected to commit to practice or service in an underserved community for two years after graduation.
  • Recruitment: Penn Nursing will select 10 Fellows to begin classes this fall, growing the program enrollment through 2026 when it will reach its annual target enrollment of 40 Fellows, continuing in perpetuity. By 2027, the program will have enrolled 140 excellent nurse practitioner students. Fellows will need to show a demonstrated commitment to working in underserved neighborhoods, where they are needed most, and to promoting health equity.
  • Tuition: All participants in the program will enter the workforce free of graduate school debt, receiving student aid to cover their tuition and fees and thereby eliminating any potential financial barriers for nurses and others who wish to enroll. Fellows with greater financial need will also receive stipends to help with living expenses.
  • Program Leadership: Penn Nursing will name the first endowed Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Professor, who will oversee curriculum innovation, support of community sites, and program implementation.
  • Penn Community Partnership: Penn Nursing will provide support for select community partner sites to support the clinical education of Fellows while providing professional development and networking opportunities and access to School and University resources.

“Penn Nursing has a long history of advancing science, promoting equity, practice excellence, and preparing leaders. That’s why Mr. Lauder’s gift is so meaningful. The synergy between Penn Nursing and the Program will improve the health of underserved patients and families, by uniquely preparing primary care nurse practitioners, who will work with them in their communities. The sustained investment in the education and careers of primary care nurse practitioners and communities is unprecedented. We are excited by the opportunity to lead this important Program and to extend its impact beyond Penn Nursing,” says Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel. “We are deeply grateful to Mr. Lauder for recognizing and investing in this critical need, and for partnering with us in this ambitious endeavor.”

NPs are “key” to health care in underserved communities

Stephen P. Fera, Executive Vice President of Independence Blue Cross, which is one of the community partners that will be involved in the new initiative, noted that nurse practitioners are key to improving individual and community care. Said Fera: “Bolstering the nurse practitioner workforce is a means to improve access to care and strengthen the health care safety net provided by health centers. This is a key priority of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and our partnership with Penn Nursing has been synergistic in efforts to prepare nurses to work in community-based settings. The Program will build and strengthen our individual and collective efforts toward improving the health and well-being of communities.”

“Now more than ever, the country needs greater and more equitable access to quality primary care—and highly-skilled nurse practitioners are the key to making that happen,” said Leonard A. Lauder. “The program will ensure that more Americans receive the essential health care services that everyone deserves, and I’m so pleased to be working with Penn Nursing on this initiative. I look forward to welcoming our first class of future nurse practitioners this fall. I know their expertise will be matched only by their commitment to serving our communities.”

Texas Staffing Shortage Shuts Down Rural Labor and Delivery Units

Texas Staffing Shortage Shuts Down Rural Labor and Delivery Units

Cuts to services

Transferring to larger hospitals

Vaccine misinformation impacts staff, patients

U Mass is Building a “Vaccine Corps” of Med and Nursing Grad Students

U Mass is Building a “Vaccine Corps” of Med and Nursing Grad Students

The U.S. faces one of the most consequential public health campaigns in history right now: to vaccinate the population against COVID-19 and, especially, to get shots into the arms of people who cannot easily navigate getting vaccinated on their own.

Time is of the essence. As new, potentially more dangerous variants of this coronavirus spread to new regions, widespread vaccination is one of the most powerful and effective ways to slow, if not stop, the virus’s spread.

Mobilizing large “vaccine corps” could help to meet this urgent need.

We’re testing that concept right now at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where I am the chancellor. So far, 500 of our students and hundreds of community members have volunteered for vaccine corps roles. Our graduate nursing and medical students, under the direction of local public health leaders, have already been vaccinating first responders and vulnerable populations, demonstrating that a vaccine corps can be a force multiplier for resource-strained departments of public health.

500 students have volunteered to join the vaccination corps. Their first project was vaccinating first responders.

On Feb. 16, we launched a large-scale vaccination site in Worcester, where as many as 2,000 people can be inoculated per day.

Importantly, a large vaccination corps that includes local medical and public health students could help reach residents who might be missed by public campaigns and hospital outreach efforts. Students often represent their region’s races, ethnicities and backgrounds, which can make it easier for them to connect with communities that are hard to reach and might not trust vaccination.

What a vaccine corps looks like

The problem of getting people vaccinated quickly isn’t just about supply – it’s also about having enough people to carry out vaccinations, particularly in hard-to-reach communities.

If quickly mobilized on a large scale, a vaccine corps could directly meet three important challenges: accelerating the nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring that doses are distributed equitably to all and delivering on the promise that all Americans are able to benefit from major medical and public health advances.

Medical, nursing, pharmacy and other health students, as well as retired or unemployed clinicians, could deliver shots, monitor people who were just vaccinated or schedule the second doses that are required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be fully effective.

Reaching underserved communities – including their own

In particular, a large, well-organized vaccine corps could play a crucial role in reaching out to communities that are underserved, overlooked or hard to reach.

Corps members could staff phone banks to help people who lack internet or struggle to use online scheduling systems find vaccines in their areas and make appointments.

Our students in the vaccine corps have already helped administer vaccines in public housing complexes and homeless and domestic violence shelters. They could also provide transportation to vaccination sites or take doses directly to homebound elders who cannot safely venture out. In Alaska, for example, vaccine providers have been going out by plane and sled to remote villages to reach thousands of residents.

Members of a vaccination corps who share race or ethnicity with the community can also have an impact on overcoming people’s concerns about getting the vaccine. That’s important.

poll released Feb. 10, conducted by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that only 57% of Black U.S. residents said they had either gotten or would definitely or probably get the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 65% of Americans who identified as Hispanic and 68% as white. Fewer than half of Black Americans surveyed in a separate Kaiser Family Foundation poll in late January believed the needs of Black people were being taken into account.

Rural areas face similar concerns, as well as the geographical challenges of reaching people in remote areas. The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that people who live in rural areas are “among the most vaccine hesitant groups.” In mid-January, it found that 29% of rural Americans surveyed either definitely did not want to get the vaccine or said they would do so only if required.

If we extrapolate these survey results, suggesting that as many as three or four out of every 10 Americans may avoid inoculation, public health officials’ hopes of reaching herd immunity will be in jeopardy.

The potential for scaling up

The U.S. has a long history of creating health corps. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the federal government launched the volunteer Medical Reserve Corps to mobilize current and former medical professionals and others with needed health skills during emergencies. Several Medical Reserve Corps units around the country are now assisting vaccination efforts.

This concept could be expanded, including by partnering with universities, to have wider, game-changing reach. The model of service our students are testing opens up many possibilities, limited only by a lack of will and imagination.

The Conversation

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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, “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.

Florida A&M University School of Nursing Receives $1.3 Million to Help Rural Communities

Florida A&M University School of Nursing Receives $1.3 Million to Help Rural Communities

Florida A&M University (FAMU) will be placing new focus on preparing nursing students to serve in rural and underserved communities thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The project, called the Academic-Practice Partnerships Enhance Advanced Learning (APPEAL), is intended to advance the health and life success of Florida communities through the diversification of health professions. Students in the FAMU School of Nursing will work in partner primary care clinical practice sites in medically underserved and rural communities to help increase the number of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) working in those areas.

Henry C. Talley, PhD, dean of the School of Nursing and principal investigator for the grant, tells, “The HRSA grant and our new APPEAL project position us to not only train the next generation of nursing professionals on how to serve rural and underserved communities but also allows us to help eliminate health care disparities for families and individuals who deserve the best care available despite their financial status or location.”

APRNs are trained to serve as direct patient care providers in the state of Florida and can offer services including preventing, diagnosing, and treating illnesses. Through new partnerships, the APPEAL project will provide hands-on training for advanced practice nursing students, preparing them for successful entry to community-based, primary care settings in rural and underserved areas.

To learn more about FAMU’s APPEAL project and new nursing grant, visit here.