School of Nursing receives $2.5 million for new BSN specialized in primary care

SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 9, 2018) ― The School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio has received a $2.5 million grant to offer a bachelor’s degree specialized in primary care. The four-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration began July 1, with classes starting in summer 2019.

The program, within the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) track, includes a new curriculum emphasizing primary care in a clinical setting. It also includes team-based, primary care clinical training in locations that serve primarily at-risk, underserved populations.

The grant will support revisions to the School of Nursing’s curricula to place more emphasis on primary care nursing. It will also pay for development of an annual inter-professional workshop focused on primary care for practicing registered nurses (RNs), clinical supervisors of nursing students and nursing faculty members.

“There is a critical need to increase the delivery of high-quality, primary health care by baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses practicing in community clinics. However, of the 3.3 million professionally active RNs in the U.S., about 61 percent practice in hospitals and only 18 percent practice in clinics,” said Norma Martinez Rogers, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, principal investigator of the grant and a professor of nursing at UT Health San Antonio. “These figures show the alarming need to increase the number of RNs who practice in community-based primary care clinics to provide for the basic health care needs of patients,” she said.

Students in the primary care nursing program will learn about:

– population health;

– preventing and managing chronic diseases, including mental health and substance use disorders;

– participating on inter-professional teams;

– providing care for patients from a variety of cultures; and

– addressing the needs of patients who are dealing with barriers to health care.

Five students will be enrolled in the program the first year, six the second year, seven the third year and eight the fourth year. The deadline to apply for the first-year cohort is fall of 2018.

“There are many places in San Antonio and South Texas where health care providers are in short supply, making it difficult for patients with basic and chronic health needs to access care,” Dr. Martinez Rogers explained. “These patients may face poverty, lack of reliable transportation, food or housing insecurity, chronic illness in the family that disrupts or limits work schedules, no insurance, hours of driving from rural areas or multiple transfers using public transportation to access a health provider. Part of the mission of our School of Nursing is to serve the needs of patients who are at a disadvantage due to these social determinants of health.”

The basis for this type of program was outlined in 2016 by The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. The foundation’s report emphasized the importance of increasing the number of primary care health professionals to meet America’s health care needs. It also recommended developing and expanding nursing education and training programs to prepare RNs for leadership roles to help reform health care systems. The report also calls for maximizing the scope of practice for RNs in primary care to ultimately improve the health of the American public.

“With our School of Nursing being part of an academic health institution, it is important for us to understand and fulfill national health care recommendations that are based on scientific evidence and are advocated for by national health care thought leaders,” Dr. Martinez Rogers said.

Herlinda Zamora, M.S.N., RN, partnership liaison, and Daisy Ornelas, program coordinator, helped develop the program. Faculty advisers include Adelita Cantu, Ph.D., RN; Tracey Page, D.N.P., RN, FNP-BC; Laura Sisk, D.N.P., M.S.N., RN; Martha Martinez, M.S.N., RN, CNS, WHNCP; Peter Guarnero, RN, Ph.D., M.Sc.; Marissa Molina, M.S.N., RN;  and Jolly Punchamannil, D.N.P., RN, CMSRN.

For more information about the program call (210) 450-8662 or email ornelasd@uthscsa.edu.

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