New Funding Opportunities for Nurse Practitioner Students
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid recently announced a new initiative for advanced practice registered nurses including nurse practitioners that is aimed to bolster the primary care workforce. The program is called the Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration and will award 5 hospitals up to $200 million over four years to train APRNs. An interesting caveat is that half of the training must occur in non-hospital community settings. This project was made possible through the Affordable Care Act and from the CMS Innovation Center.
I believe this is a huge step forward for APRN education in our country. While this doesn’t appear to be a formal residency program, it is recognition that nurse practitioners are largely community-based providers and should therefore have significant training specifically in the community setting. Will we ever see a formal “Match Day” where medical and pharmacy students are matched to their preferred residency? We are still a long way from seeing such a formal program but I believe programs like the Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration may be the early beginnings of recognizing a community-based residency program of sorts for nurse practitioners.
There are a few limitations to this project: only current Master’s degree students are eligible to participate in this demonstration and if one is already licensed as a nurse practitioner in another specialty (i.e. adult) they are not eligible for this demonstration if returning for schooling in another specialty (i.e. pediatrics).
In other nurse-related funding opportunities, the Health Resources and Services Association (HRSA), recently increased the annual limits on the Nurse Faculty Loan Program from $30,000 to $35,000 (also thanks to the Affordable Care Act). The shortage of both undergraduate and graduate nursing faculty has been well documented in recent years. In addition, the average age of doctorally prepared nursing faculty is 60.5. So we not only have a current shortage of nursing faculty, but is expected that the current faculty will retire in the coming years. Therefore, an influx of nursing faculty must happen. The Nursing Faculty Loan Program will award schools of nursing up to a total of $24 million dollars starting in July 2012. Be sure to check with the nursing schools to inquire if they will be applying for and offering these grants. (Having one’s education paid for is also a good step in the right direction, but we also must see faculty salaries increase in order to keep up with nurses in clinical practice. I have heard estimates that there can be more than a $10,000 dollar difference in salaries among clinical staff and faculty.)
Both of these initiatives are congruent with the IOMs Future of Nursing document. It is great to see innovative programs and funding for the largest sector of our healthcare workforce. You might perhaps be in a position to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities!