Anthony Arnone | January 26, 2023

Improving Healthcare in High-Need Rural Communities

SUNY funding leads to increased opportunities for nursing students to work with underserved populations.
Nursing students.

More than $1.4 million has been awarded from SUNY’s Nursing Emergency Training Fund to expand campus healthcare degree programs for students interested in pursuing a nursing career. As part of this initiative, SUNY Brockport received $249,000 in funding to expand its partnerships with rural federally funded healthcare centers in dire need of primary care providers.

Kathy Peterson

Kathy Peterson

“National data and research show there are fewer primary care providers in rural areas compared to urban areas and there is a significant disparity in healthcare outcomes in rural communities,” Kathy Peterson, Chair of the Department of Nursing, said. “We hope to increase the availability of primary care providers in underserved locations including Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties.”

This funding is not the starting point for SUNY Brockport’s push to increase healthcare providers in underserved areas. As part of their curriculum, both the Doctor of Nursing (DNP) program and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program partner with rural federally funded healthcare centers as destinations for student placements.

“Most of these communities do not have enough providers,” Nursing Professor Beth Heavey said. “We find that our students who have had the additional exposure to rural federally qualified health centers have gone on to be hired, many prior to graduation, and are now primary care providers for high-need rural communities.”

In order to support another high-need population in underserved counties, SUNY Brockport plans to start an Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner track within both the DNP and FNP programs. Once the program receives approval from the State Education Department, recruitment will begin for the Fall 2023 semester. This program will specialize in training nurse practitioners to work with adult and elderly populations.

Scene from REOC Licensed Practical Nursing pinning ceremony.

Scene from REOC Licensed Practical Nursing pinning ceremony.

“With our aging population increasing drastically, there is a serious need for practitioners in this specialty,” Peterson said. “The lack of primary care providers with specialized training in caring for geriatric patients is substantial.”

The funding will also cover the first year salary for four half-time faculty members. These faculty members will spend the other half of their time working as providers for a federally funded healthcare center. As part of SUNY Brockport’s partnership, the faculty will serve as providers at these locations that can oversee nursing students as part of their clinical placement requirement.