With the expansion of the primary care workforce an essential component of national health care reform, two federal grants totaling more than $1.7 million are aimed at giving more UMass Medical School students the chance to train for and enter the field faster. The grants, for primary care residency and advanced nursing education expansion, were made by the Health Services Resource Administration (HRSA) under the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Through a competitive selection process, the School of Medicine was awarded $960,000 to expand its Fitchburg Family Medicine residency, and the Graduate School of Nursing received $760,000 to expand its Adult Gerontology Primary Care and Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner specialties. Earmarked to defray education expenses, the money will help students through scholarships and stipends.
The Department of Family Medicine & Community Health in the School of Medicine will expand its Fitchburg Family Medicine residency from five to six residents per year. The residency is based at the Community Health Connections Family Health Center (CHCFHC), a community health center serving the low-income and underserved population of Fitchburg and surrounding communities. The residency, which dates to 1978, entered into a partnership with a community group in 2003 to establish a new federally-qualified health center with a dual mission of service and education. The health center serves as the site for all primary care ambulatory medical education for the Fitchburg trainees, as well as a clinical education site for many undergraduate medical students in all years of the curriculum. The grant will continue CHCFCH’s impressive track record as an important source of health care providers for this underserved area.
The GSN grant will fund Adult Gerontology Primary Care and Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner students for one to two years at $22,000 per year, expanding these specialties to address the shortage of primary care providers, in some cases enabling them to accelerate from part- to full-time study so they can enter the primary care workforce as advanced practice nurses sooner. “Our focus will be on funding those students who are economically or educationally disadvantaged, from underrepresented groups in health care, and who are committed to working as in medically underserved urban and rural communities,” said Kathleen Miller, EdD, GSN associate dean for advanced practice programs. Students in both the Master of Science and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs are eligible to apply.
While these grants fund health care training, their ultimate beneficiaries are patients. “These programs will directly increase capacity and improve access to primary care in Worcester and the Commonwealth as a whole,” said GSN Dean Paulette Seymour-Route, PhD.