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Upstate launches nurse practitioner residency to help underserved areas

A new residency program at Upstate Medical University will offer nurse practitioners a new post-graduate experience while bringing much-needed medical care to underserved communities.

Upstate’s nurse practitioner residency program kicks off in November thanks to a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The $2.8 million will fund four one-year resident positions for each of the next four years in underserved rural, urban and tribal areas for a total of 16 residency positions.

Jennifer Vaughn, executive assistant dean of administration for the College of Nursing, said the goal of the grant is to increase access to healthcare in underserved areas and in turn, it will also provide much-needed training for the nurse practitioners.

“It is significant in terms of the need in these areas,” said Vaughn, DNP, RN, NE-BC, CNE.

Residents will work at East Hill Medical Center in Auburn (rural); the Onondaga Nation Health Center in Nedrow (tribal); at Liberty Resources Primary Care on James Street and Upstate Family and Preventive Medicine at the Nappi Wellness Institute (urban).

The program is a collaboration between the College of Nursing and the Department of Family Medicine, which has family medicine residents at these locations as well.

Together, the NP and family medicine residents will receive didactic training one-half day each week. The NPs will receive extra training and rotations in behavioral and mental health and women’s health, two crucial services that are especially lacking in these areas.

Clyde H. Satterly, MD, MBA, chair of the Department of Family Medicine, said adding an NP resident program has long been a goal of his for several reasons, including the opportunities it provides for more interprofessional education.

“I feel this is important to academic medical centers more than ever because it prepares health professions learners who may be coming from different backgrounds and specialties to learn to work in a collaborative team environment,” he said. “This is exactly what we should be doing to provide effective patient-centered population health.”

In addition to serving the community, the new program benefits both NPs and DNPs, allowing for continuing education and a smoother entry into full-time practice.  

Vaughn said nurse practitioners traditionally graduate and are launched straight into practice with varying caseloads and levels of mentorship and orientation.

“This establishes a solid process that allows the NP a year to ramp up their caseload and introduces them to the interdisciplinary setting because they will receive their training right alongside the family practice medical residents,” Vaughn said. “This will give those NPs that same transition into practice and a really solid foundation for going forward.”

Satterly said as care becomes increasingly complex, the need for formal additional training for nurse practitioners becomes that much more important.

“Providing primary care in today’s environment can be pretty complex not only because our knowledge base must be comprehensive, but because we now understand how patients’ social determinants of health can affect outcomes,” he said. “This is becoming more of a challenge to family medicine residents who complete a three-year residency but is especially difficult for nurse practitioners who receive no residency training. The additional collaborative training from our residency will help to better prepare NPs for more effective practice.”

Vaughn said such residency programs are in their infancy and that the goal for Upstate’s program is to go through the accreditation process in year three and to have more sustainable funding in the future. Additionally, both Vaughn and Satterly said they hope the new program leads to more retention of the residents in the local community.

Any clinically trained NP or DNP who is nationally board certified and graduated in the last 18 months is eligible to apply for the first cohort.

“It is just very exciting, Vaughn said. “It is a great opportunity not only to increase access to care in those specific areas but to really give those nurse practitioners that transition into practice that they deserve. It’s a win-win across the board.”

For more information on how to apply, contact Vaughn at johnjenn@upstate.edu.

Caption: Clyde Satterly, MD, chair of the Department of Family Medicine, and Jennifer Vaughn, DNP, executive assistant dean of the College of Nursing, have developed a nurse practitioner residency program aimed at bringing much-needed medical care to underserved communities.