Mason’s School of Nursing is partnering with the Jeanie Schmidt Free Clinic in Fairfax County to improve access to health care for uninsured people with chronic diseases The $1.6 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant supports Mason’s Partners for Access to Healthcare (PATH), a new faculty practice plan that includes nurse practitioners providing primary and mental health care, nurse educators providing patient education, and nurse researchers evaluating clinical and behavioral outcomes. In addition, the five-year grant offers graduate and undergraduate nursing students opportunities for service-learning experiences.
In fall 2010, Mason nursing faculty members launched a practice one day a week at the nurse-led Jeanie Schmidt Free Clinic, developing a Mason clinic within the community clinic. This initiative leverages the community resources already in place by maximizing the use of the clinic’s space, infrastructure, and community partners. A unique aspect of the expanded primary care services is the addition of behavioral health services. Many low-income uninsured patients suffer from mental illness, including depression and anxiety. Mason School of Nursing faculty members created an integrated model to deliver both primary care and behavioral health care in one place and at one time. Addressing mental health needs may improve other health outcomes, including adherence to medications and various self-management practices that are critical to achieving better outcomes. Not only do clinic patients receive high-quality, evidence-based care, but Mason nursing students work side by side with faculty to deliver this care. What better way to educate the next generation of health care professionals?
The nation is facing a shortage of primary care physicians and a rise in uninsured individuals. To provide care for this population, the federal government is looking to nursing schools to educate nurse practitioners to meet the future demands of primary care and implement new models of care, specifically, nurse-led clinics, which can provide high-quality integrated care while containing costs. The nursing faculty practice at Mason provides a model for university partnerships with community services to address the rising needs of the uninsured or underinsured and the shortage of primary care providers. Mason’s PATH is on the frontlines, working with the community to improve access to health care for the uninsured in Fairfax County.
Faculty members participating in PATH are Kathleen Dickman, FNP-BC and principal investigator of the grant; Robin Remsburg, associate dean and director of nursing; Christina Kalisz, FNP-BC; Penny Cameron, FNP-BC; Marie Kodadek, coordinator of the Nurse Educator Program; Renee Milligan, coordinator of the DNP Program; Lora Peppard, ANP-BC and supervisor of behavioral health activities; Ana Stoehr, MSN, PhD candidate, coordinator of the Nursing Administration Program; and Charlene Douglas, coordinator of community health services.
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Submitted by Kathleen Dickman, assistant professor/Nurse Practitioner Program coordinator, College of Health and Human Services