Virginia Del. Joseph Yost to keynote RU WCHHS presentation on "Mental Health in the New River Valley"


Delegate Joseph Yost

Delegate Joseph Yost, 12th District and Radford University '06, M.S. '08, will keynote a forum focused on mental health in the New River Valley.

Sponsored by the Radford University Waldron College of Health and Human Services (WCHHS), the forum will take place Friday, Sept. 12, at 1 p.m. in the Hurlburt Student Center. It is free and open to the public.

The event will commemorate the launch of a series of WCHHS programs focused on improved regional mental health care. Funded by a $750,000 Advanced Nursing Education Grant from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the program will be dedicated to improving access to health care by strengthening the health care workforce, building healthy communities and achieving health equity.

The three-year grant will include three components, said the grant's primary investigator, Assistant Professor of Nursing Victoria Bierman '77, B.S.N. '98, M.S.N. '04.

Entitled "CARE: Collaboration, Awareness, Resources and Education, "the grant will enable RU to develop a psychiatric/mental health concentration and certification program for Nurse Practitioners and Doctors of Nursing Practice serving rural communities, such as the New River Valley. The grant will also enable the development of a continuing education program for health professionals devoted to chronic disease management for patients with mental health issues.

"We can help alleviate a lot of patient suffering and prepare nurses and other health care professionals to be more skilled at managing a challenging situation for all - clients, families and providers," said Bierman.

According to Bierman, there are only 133 licensed psychiatric nurse practitioners in the Commonwealth of Virginia and only 106 currently practicing. The shortage of such behavioral health professionals impairs patient outcomes and hampers integrated delivery of behavioral health services and medical care to those suffering from mental health issues or issues compounded by chronic diseases, such as diabetes.

The grant and programs will enable RU to address the shortage of healthcare providers on behalf of persons with behavioral health issues and multiple chronic diseases by preparing professionals who can deliver patient-centered care. Also included in the program will be outreach to clinics by nurse practitioners, DNP candidates and students from the RU departments of Social Work, Occupational Therapy and Communication Sciences and Disorders.

An Interprofessional Education (IPE) consortium within the WCHHS will also be created to enhance interdisciplinary work among the college's various specialties.

"We are excited for the opportunity to provide graduate students the opportunities to learn the roles of other professions and develop working relationships with their peers and colleagues," Bierman said. "That same tradition will also deepen within our departments. Our targeted population requires multiple specialties. On behalf of our patients and communities, we can develop ways to work together as a team and help our advanced practice students as they transition into the modern health care environment."

Cooperating across disciplines is an ongoing focus of WCHHS. Last spring, the WCHHS hosted its first-ever Interprofessional Symposium and Expo to showcase its diverse research initiatives.

"With this grant, Dr. Bierman and her colleagues will be able to implement additional practices that address the complexities of today's health care," said WCHHS Dean Kenneth Cox. "We don't work in isolation anymore; we work in teams. The programs that emerge from this exciting opportunity will help us further step out of our silos and foster true interprofessional practice and service."

Sep 9, 2014