Federal grant to help RU advance health care professional education

Radford University’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services has been awarded an Advanced Nursing Education Grant by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for more than $750,000.

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

The grant will enable RU to develop a psychiatric/mental health certification program for Nurse Practitioners and Doctors of Nursing Practice serving rural communities, like 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.

"The grant will help us 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.

An Interprofessional Education Consortium within the WCHHS will also be created to enhance interdisciplinary work among the college’s various specialties.

"We have an exciting chance for our advanced students to gain more opportunities to learn the roles of other professions and develop working relationships with their peers and colleagues," she said. "That same tradition will also deepen within our departments."

The HRSA grant will engage the WCHHS Departments of Occupational Therapy, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Social Work in the consortium to focus their combined bodies of study and research on improving outcomes of patients suffering a dangerous combination of mental health issues and chronic diseases.

"This 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 students as they transition into the modern health care environment," she said.

Cooperating across disciplines is a focus of WCHHS activity. Last spring, the WCHHS hosted its first-ever Interprofessional Symposium and Expo that showcased 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 Ken 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."

Jul 21, 2014