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Upstate Medical College of Nursing to use $1.8M grant for mental health nurse practitioners in rural areas

By Eric Reinhardt


Bambi Carkey (left), assistant professor in Upstate Medical’s College of Nursing, reviews paperwork from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Joining Carkey in the review are (from left to right) Alice Boyce, data manager; Joyce Scarpinato, who serves as assistant dean for graduate programs as well as director of the doctor of nursing practice program.; and Karen Klingman, grant director. (Photo provided by Upstate Medical University)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Upstate Medical University College of Nursing will use a federal grant to increase the number of family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (FPMHNP) in rural communities and in “medically underserved” communities, “such as Syracuse.”

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the four-year grant worth more than $1.8 million, Upstate Medical said in a news release.

The grant is part of the HRSA’s behavioral-health workforce education training program (BHWET), designed to develop a “culturally competent and diverse” workforce.

Upstate’s College of Nursing will use the grant primarily to expand the school’s recruitment efforts to attract nurses from the targeted communities to its master’s and doctorate degree programs that specialize in family psychiatric mental health.

The nurse-practitioner students will focus on the management of patients with psychiatric disorders and comorbidities, such as substance abuse, and the integration of behavioral health into primary care.

Upon graduation, the expectation is that these FPMHNPs will practice in “medically underserved” and/or rural areas.

Providing stipends

The grant’s first year will provide up to 20 stipends to nurses enrolled in the college’s FPMHNP master’s degree program, Bambi Carkey, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, said in the release.

Up to three stipends will be provided to FPMHNPs enrolled in the college’s doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program. The number of stipends will increase in each of the remaining three years.

“We are very excited about this HRSA award,” said Carkey. She serves as director of the FPMHNP program and principal investigator on the grant.

In addition, the HRSA-BHWET team also includes Karen Klingman, grant director; Alice Boyce, data manager; and Joyce Scarpinato, who serves as assistant dean for graduate programs, as well as director of the DNP program, and chief nursing administrator for the College of Nursing.

Other grant benefits

In addition to providing stipends, the grant will also increase the college’s capacity to provide clinical experiences in behavioral health care for rural communities and those which are “medically underserved.”

The college is currently partnering with community based behavioral agencies throughout the region. In addition, the grant will be used toward increasing the number of preceptors in each partnering agency and providing preceptors faculty development sessions.

The award will also “enhance” the education of FPMHNP students, clinical preceptors, and faculty through the “dynamics” of working on “interprofessional teams that focus on the social determinants of health, common comorbid medical/psychiatric problems, and the opioid epidemic,” Upstate Medical said.

The grant will also add a student-success specialist who will support stipend recipients, and additional FPMHNP faculty will be jointly appointed to the College of Nursing and the department of psychiatry through the grant.

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