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Collaborative Education & Practice: New Look for Annual Nursing Education Grants from HRSA

May 10

Written by: Grants Office, LLC
Thursday, May 10, 2012  RssIcon

Collaborative Education & Practice:  New Look for Annual Nursing Education Grants from HRSA

By Chris LaPage

May 2012

You need not look any further than the recently released nursing education grants from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to know that a major shift has occurred with how the federal government will allocate funds for health professional education.   Despite the fact that the evidence of its effectiveness is only moderate at best, the United States Department of Health & Human Services has gone all-in with its preference to fund health professional education projects that incorporate inter-professional education models.   While scholarly research on the effectiveness of inter-professional education methodologies compared to traditional techniques is not conclusive, it is hard to find fault with the logic behind such strategies.  With the proliferation of medical homes and emphasis on patient-centered care, health professional rarely practice in environments isolated to a single discipline.  It makes sense that if health care is to be delivered with a team-based approach; education settings should mimic such principles.

Many individuals within the nursing education community have expressed concern that this new focus will mean less federal funding will actually go towards the education of nurses.  However, from a grantseekers perspective, the new approach should generally be viewed in a positive light.  The scope of the programs has obviously increased to allow for the inclusion of health professionals from a variety of disciplines.  Furthermore, from past experience with these programs, many applicants in previous cycles had to carve out a nursing-specific education component of projects that encompassed several types of health professions.   This type of project carving will no longer be required, and will actually make your project less competitive in the context of the grant programs.  In many ways the narrative for these grant programs has changed from, “what is the best way to educate nurses so they can practice effectively?” to, “what is the best way to educate nurses and other health professionals so they are prepared to practice in an Inter-Professional Collaborative Practice (IPCP) environment?”.  Assuming that an IPCP environment is best to deliver care to patients, in many ways the educational paradigm and flow of funding is simply aligning itself with the core accepted patient-centric tenants of 21st Century health care delivery.

The good news for the grantseeking community is that many of the core underlying principles of the nursing education grant programs remain in effect.  There is still a heavy emphasis on ensuring nurses gain practical experience in underserved urban and rural areas.  These include communities that are designated by HRSA to be health professional shortage areas (HPSAs), medically underserved areas (MUAs), or include medically underserved populations (MUPs).  In addition, all the programs support distance learning methods as well as the incorporation of both telehealth and simulation equipment into education/training projects. 

In FY 2012, The Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) Program will exclusively fund 3-year demonstration projects that establish or expand Inter-professional Collaborative Practice (IPCP) environments where nurses and other professional disciplines join together to provide comprehensive healthcare services for patients and their families.  NEPQR has traditionally been the most flexible of the nursing education grants, allowing diverse projects that focus on everything from continuing education to advance nursing education.   While funding levels remain consistent with 2011, the award ceiling for individual applicants has doubled for NEPQR.  The FY 2012 program puts $10 million on the table overall with individual applicants able to request up to $500,000 per year for their projects.  HRSA anticipates making 20 new awards under the program.  The deadline for proposal submission is May 29, 2012.

The Advanced Nursing Education Program (ANE) funds projects that educate registered nurses to become nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, nurse educators, nurse administrators, public health nurses and other advanced nurse specialists.  Unlike NEPQR, ANE does not allow continuing education projects and focuses on moving nurses up into advanced specialties.  For the first time in program history, all proposals submitted under ANE must meaningfully incorporate technology (e.g. - simulation, telehealth) and utilize interprofessional education (IPE) methodologies that involve health professionals from non-nursing disciplines.  HRSA has made approximately $9 million available through ANE to fund 24 new awards.  Individual applicants can request up to $375,000 per year over the 3 year project period.  While inclusion of technology is required, applicants may not spend more than $200,000 on equipment over the entire project period.  Interested applicants should note that the limitation is only on items that meet the definition of “equipment” for the program, which are items that have a unit cost of $5,000 or more and a useful life of at least one year.  Otherwise, they may be listed as supplies or in another budget category.  The deadline for proposal submission is May 18, 2012.

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