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Upstate Medical to use federal grant to boost number of nurse practitioners treating opioid and substance-abuse disorders

Upstate Medical University’s College of Nursing will use a four-year, $2.7 million federal grant to help train students who want to work in rural or “underserved” areas after graduation, the medical school said. (Photo credit: Upstate Medical University website)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Upstate Medical University’s College of Nursing will use a three-year federal grant of more than $660,000 to support increasing the number of skilled nurse practitioners to treat opioid and substance-abuse disorders.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the funding, Upstate Medical said in a news release.

The three-year grant will support the creation of a new supplemental curriculum to train psychiatric mental health nurse-practitioner students on how to treat patients with opioid and substance-abuse disorders. That’s a graduate-level program in the College of Nursing, Upstate Medical said.


The grant will also provide monetary stipends for the students who pursue the training and a part-time project-success specialist position to work with partners and students in the program.

The College of Nursing will develop the curriculum this fall. The additional training, which will consist of classroom and clinical hours, will amount to a micro-credential — a “focused skill set that can be included on a transcript.” The program’s micro-credential status will help it “live on” beyond the three-year grant, according to Melissa Carr, director of clinical placement at the College of Nursing.

In 2020, FPMHNP students at the College of Nursing will be eligible to apply for the program, which includes a stipend. FPMHNP is short for family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

During the three-year period, the grant will support stipends in the amounts of: $28,352 for five doctoral students and $10,000 for the equivalent of 26 master’s level students.

Many students in the FPMHNP program work full time while pursuing their master’s or doctoral degree, Upstate Medical said. The stipends can be an “important financial subsidy” for the additional time students will need to commit to this program above and beyond their existing requirements, Carr noted.

CNY “specific” issues

When applying for the grant, the College of Nursing noted issues specific to Central New York that would make Upstate Medical an important recipient of the federal grant.

“The program will address two critical issues in the Central New York region: overdose rates above the national average and a shortage of qualified trained behavioral-health professionals to meet the need for opioid and substance-use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services,” Carr said.

The application also noted Upstate’s use of a multidisciplinary internal and external group to develop the curriculum and train students, Carr said. Upstate has partnered with Helio Health, Liberty Resources, the Poison Center, the Prevention Network and American Medical Response to develop a curriculum that is based on national-practice guidelines but “sensitive to the needs of Central New York.”

“With the growing epidemic of opioid-related deaths and illnesses, it is crucial that nursing education provide the latest in evidence-based therapies for those who are opioid addicted,” Tammy L. Austin-Ketch, dean of the College of Nursing, said in the release. “For psychiatric mental health nurse-practitioner students, the education should include all facets of care including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The grant will also provide opportunities for students to work with a variety of teams, both internal and external to Upstate Medical University. Students will have the opportunity to work with community organizations that specialize in multiple facets of addiction care. Additionally, stipends offered in this program will provide an incentive to students, which has the potential to increase the pool of mental health and addictions providers in the Central New York community.”

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