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$2.6 Million Grant Renewal Awarded to College of Nursing to Improve Maternal/Infant Care to Underserved

A College of Nursing team aims to improve services for mothers and babies in the Delta region, including Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Front row, from left, Dr. Laura Reed, Dr. Sarah Rhoads, Dr. Bobby Bellflower. Back row, from left, Dr. Jackie Sharp, Dr. Lisa Beasley, Karen Nellis, Dr. Ricketta Clark, Dr. Kate Fouquier. Not pictured: Dr. Janeane Anderson.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing will provide significant support annually to 19 advanced practice nursing students committed to serving rural and underserved communities, thanks to the $2.6 million renewal of a federal grant initially awarded in 2019. 

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has renewed the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) grant submitted byProfessor Sarah Rhoads, PhD, DNP, WHNP-BC, RNC-OB, APRN, FAAN. The goal of the four-year grant is to increase the number of nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives to serve underserved populations, increase diversity in the workforce, and train providers to address health equity and social determinants of health. UTHSC has the only public nurse midwifery program in the three-state region. 

The grant team plans to award stipends of $23,947 per year to 19 students in the following Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs: Nurse Midwifery, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The grant renewal will also aid in building and expanding academic and clinical partnerships and create learning opportunities to train nurses to address health equity and social determinants of health for rural, urban, and tribal underserved communities. 

The original HRSA grant of nearly $3 million awarded in 2019, supported five DNP students each year. The renewal nearly quadruples the commitment to supporting nursing education.  

“We will see the impact of this grant for generations,” Dr. Rhoads said. “We will more than triple the number of students who receive a stipend each year with this new grant. This additional funding will allow us to assist more students and provide them with money for tuition, books, fees, and travel to our partnering clinical sites. In addition, our first cohort of nurse midwifery students will graduate in May 2024, and several of them have received a stipend for all three years of their nurse midwifery program.” 

Dr. Rhoads leads a team in the College of Nursing focused on improving services for mothers and babies in the Delta region, including Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The team is also working to expand access to mental health resources and primary care in the region.  

Co-investigators areProfessorBobby Bellflower, DNSc, NNP-BC, FAANP; Associate Professor Laura Reed, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC; Assistant ProfessorJacqueline Sharp, DNP, APRN-BC, PMHNP; Professor Kate Fouquier, CNM, PhD, FACNM; Assistant ProfessorLisa D. Beasley, DNP, APRN, NP-C, RN; Assistant ProfessorJaneane N. Anderson, PhD, MPH; andAssociate ProfessorRicketta Clark,DNP, APRN-BC. 

“We will see the impact of this grant for generations.”

Dr. Sarah Rhoads

To accomplish the goals of the grant, academic and clinical partnerships with urban and rural institutions are being strengthened. These include Regional One Health in Memphis, Java Medical Group, and Professional Care Services in rural West Tennessee. Funding will also be used to ensure diverse students receive training in rural clinics. 

“Rural health care is really near and dear to my heart,” Dr. Rhoads said, when the initial grant was received. “The excellent thing about this program is we are going to develop close partnerships with institutions and ideally it will be a win-win for both. We will make an impact on rural communities as well as underserved communities here in Memphis. Ideally, students rotating in the rural health care clinics and the medically underserved areas in Memphis will fall in love with those communities and work there when they graduate.” 

In addition to supporting nursing education, the original HRSA ANEW grant also enhanced relationships with academic practice partners and rural clinics providing student experiences in rural and medically underserved areas; and provided telehealth training and supplies to rural areas. The team also hosted an annual interprofessional Opioid Conference for three years and partnered with South Central Telehealth Resource Center to launch a satellite telehealth training center on the UTHSC campus.