As the Affordable Care Act approaches implementation in 2014, it is estimated that there will be a need for an additional 62,900 primary care providers by 2015 and 91,500 by 2020.
To address this national and local need, the United States Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded Fairfield University's School of Nursing nearly $700,000 to help its students pay for the courses they need to become nurse practitioners, who are ideally suited to be primary care providers.
"The Affordable Care Act will expand coverage to over 30 million uninsured individuals, and there are not nearly enough primary care providers to care for them," said Lynn Babington, PhD, RN, professor and dean of Fairfield's School of Nursing. "This endeavor will address that problem, while funneling healthcare professionals to medically underserved and economically disadvantaged communities."
The intent is for these graduating Fairfield nurse practitioners to go on to work as healthcare providers in health professional shortage areas, such as Bridgeport, New Haven and Norwalk, CT, Babington added.
Although regulations vary from state to state, in Connecticut nurse practitioners can practice independently. They can also practice in multiple settings such as in a clinic or a physician's practice. At Fairfield, nurse practitioner students are encouraged to start their own businesses. It is a profession that enjoys high patient satisfaction levels.
Students who accept grant monies are required to work with a disadvantaged population for a period of time. The monies will also help the School attract more students from minority backgrounds into the nurse practitioner programs. All students in Fairfield's nurse practitioner programs are encouraged to apply for the scholarships; priority will be given to those enrolled fulltime.
The funds from HRSA's Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship Program will be distributed over a two year period and go to the School of Nursing's PROVIDE Initiative (Primary-care Outcome Valued Initiative for Delivery of Education).