The grant will expand and diversify the nurse practitioner program, with the goal of helping fulfill the shortage of primary care providers in San Bernardino County’s medically underserved areas.

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded Loma Linda University School of Nursing a $2.05 million, three-year grant to expand and diversify its nurse practitioner education program to better prepare graduates to work in medically underserved areas such as many found in San Bernardino County.

San Bernardino County has lower than average educational attainment and higher than average unemployment and poverty rates, as well as high Medi-Cal enrollment,
according to project director Lisa Roberts, DrPH, associate professor at the School of Nursing.

At the same time, the population is served by fewer than average primary care physicians and nurse practitioners per person, intensifying known health disparities, found Roberts and Gloria Huerta, DNP, assistant professor, and Andrea Champlin, MPH, faculty instructor.

“Nurse practitioners can help solve the shortage,” Roberts explains. Therefore, students need clinical experiences that prepare them to meet the needs of culturally diverse, medically underserved populations.

The grant will allow the School of Nursing to achieve this objective by steps including:

• Hiring additional faculty for the nurse practitioner program, with priority given to underrepresented minorities who meet requisite qualifications
• Creating and expanding academic-practice partnerships in order to provide more clinical training opportunities in medically underserved populations
• Increasing students’ clinical hours in training with inter-professional teams in medically underserved areas
• Increasing minority enrollment in the nurse practitioner program, and
• Augmenting the curriculum and training for both preceptors and students.

Nurse practitioners can help solve the shortage of primary care providers.Dr. Lisa Roberts

The project team believes these steps will increase the likelihood of Loma Linda University’s nurse practitioner students working in medically underserved areas after graduation.

Dean Elizabeth Bossert, PhD, says, “This grant will help nurse practitioner students understand the great health needs of the population in the Inland Empire and will increase the likelihood that the graduates of the LLU School of Nursing program will choose to continue working in this region.”

Competition for the grant was intense, according to Betty Winslow, PhD, professor and research director, School of Nursing. “We are very pleased that the project team has received this grant for the School of Nursing graduate program,” she says.

This news follows on the heels of another grant recently received for the nurse practitioner program from the state of California’s Song-Brown grant program.

The $80,000 Song-Brown grant will also allow the school to increase efforts to prepare nurse practitioner students to work with diverse patient populations. At the same time, it will work to increase diversity within the profession through mentoring potential future nurse practitioners.