- The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) has received a four-year, $2.6 million grant from the US Healthcare Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to help support the role of nurses in patient care management.
Specifically, the grant will allow UNMC to reshape their nursing education curricula to better train future nurses in patient care management, patient engagement and satisfaction, and value-based care initiatives.
At UNMC, these efforts will center on three key areas, according to UNMC College of Nursing professor and associate dean for transformational practice and partnerships, Kate Fiandt, PhD:
First, UNMC will update its undergraduate nursing curriculum to focus on primary care and clinical experience. Second, the school will develop a continuing nursing education program for nurses in Nebraska to enhance their primary care skills. Last, they will create an urban and rural nurse-managed care team to facilitate that primary care experience for students.
The nurse training will have a specific focus on vulnerable populations located in rural areas. Considering Nebraska’s vast rural areas, this will be essential to closing quality care gaps that often burden patients living in rural regions.
UNMC has partnered with Healthcare Association Nebraska to fulfill those rural care-centric goals. Specifically, nurse care team members will work with one of two federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) in the area, including rural health clinics associated with Franklin County Memorial Hospital in Franklin, Nebraska, and North Omaha Area Health, a nurse-led clinic serving the minority community of north Omaha.
The grants provide the opportunity for UNMC to deliver competitive nursing education to its students, according to UNMC College of Nursing dean Juliann Sebastian, PhD.
"The grant provides an excellent opportunity for the college’s three missions -- education, clinical practice and research -- to intersect," Sebastian said in a statement. "We are very excited to be part of this national initiative and to be able to provide our students with an innovative clinical primary care experience."
This grant comes as a part of HRSA and the healthcare industry’s work to support providers during the transition to value-based care. As organization reimbursement continues to hinge on positive patient interactions, quality care outcomes, and other key health metrics, it will be important for organizations to improve care for all patients.
Nurses are slated to play an important role in doing so, medical experts have said. Nurses are critical to improving patient satisfaction rates and delivering care in a holistic and compassion manner.
But nurses are being looked upon to fulfill another role besides patient-provider communication. Healthcare experts are increasingly recognizing the importance of the nurse in team-based care.
Nurse communication and care team cooperation are key considerations in driving patient-centered care, recent reports from Press Ganey have found. Organizations that receive more “top-box” scores tend to have better team communication, hospital room cleanliness, nurse communication, and discharge communication, the report found.
Nurses are also increasingly being tapped to help fill care gaps for patients who face extraordinary wait times. As the clinician shortage begins to hamper patient access to care, advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) have the potential to close some of those care gaps.
Some medical experts have called for relaxed scope of practice laws for APRNs, which would make it easier for these providers to deliver primary care for patients. Critics for the proposals have said that such moves could hinder team-based care, which they state should be led by a doctor.
As healthcare organizations continue to engage in more value-based payment models, it becomes clear that nurses will have an important role to play. Grants such as the one awarded to UNMC will help provide the adequate training nurses will need to facilitate better patient experiences, clinical outcomes, and cost-effectiveness.