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Old Dominion University's graduate nursing program recently began a project, "Training of Nurse Practitioner Students in Health Centers," in collaboration with Peninsula Institute for Community Health (PICH). The project is funded by a $25,000 grant offered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Advanced Education Nursing Grant ODU received was one of 10 awarded in the country.

Carolyn Rutledge, director of ODU's nursing program and associate professor, leads the project that began in January, allowing graduate nurse practitioner students to develop a collaborative partnership with PICH, which focuses its assistance to under-served areas. The purpose of the collaboration is to address the "Healthy People 2010" goals of increasing the quality and years of a healthy life and to eliminate health disparities by training nurse practitioner students.

Currently three ODU students work with nurse practitioners at PICH, with eight other students to be phased in over the next seven months. The three students taking part in the program now are working in different areas. One student is at the Stoneybrook Clinic, a homeless clinic that also has pediatrics as well as obstetrics and gynecology. The other students are at Epes Elementary School, working with a Spanish-speaking nurse practitioner, and also at Briarfield Elementary School. The school clinics provide sick visits, immunizations, physicals, and dental, vision and mental health referrals.

Students are learning about PICH's mission, governance, programs and the population they serve as they gain hands on experience at PICH's two school-based clinics, homeless clinic and their primary care clinic. The students also learn how various programs are used to collect data and how to use that data to identify the needs of the patients. As part of this project the nurse practitioner students also take part in the center's Board of Directors meetings.

This article was posted on: February 10, 2005

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