Newswise — A new partnership between California State University, Fullerton’s School of Nursing and Mountains Community Hospital and Rural Health Clinics will place nurse-midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner trainees at a critical access point for communities near the San Bernardino Mountains.
The Rural - Women of the Mountains Accessing New Services (Rural-WOMANS) Project is being launched through a two-year federal grant expected to total $1.4 million. First-year funding awarded to Cal State Fullerton by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, is $698,801.
In areas where it’s difficult to recruit and retain obstetrician-gynecologist physicians and nurse practitioners, the project is designed to expand women’s health services and create a pipeline for nursing professionals to serve in rural communities.
“The rationale is that if a student has a positive clinical experience training in an underserved site, that student may be more likely to consider working in that site or a similar site after graduation,” said Ruth Mielke, associate professor of nursing and women’s health care concentration coordinator at Cal State Fullerton.
She noted that the program will provide “additional sites where students can train and come away with immersive clinical experiences.”
Cal State Fullerton nursing students placed at the mountain clinics in Lake Arrowhead and Runnings Springs — or at an already established site in downtown Los Angeles, Eisner Health — are eligible to receive traineeships of $9,116 per semester. Forty traineeships will be available beginning in spring 2018, covering such costs as tuition, living expenses and books.
“My hope is that at least every student in the women’s health care concentration has an opportunity to gain exposure to an underserved or rural area, and additionally, receive traineeship funds,” said Mielke.
Alongside financial support for students, the grant will allow for the placement of CSUF nursing faculty members in the mountain clinics to help enhance women’s health care services. Joining Mielke in the project are Chris Latham, professor emeritus of nursing; Suzanne Robertson, associate professor of nursing; and Asma Taha, associate professor of nursing.
“Beyond basic Pap smears, the current women’s health care services in the rural clinics are pretty limited. The remote location of the clinics also means it’s very likely women are just letting things go and not taking care of health conditions early on,” said Mielke. “We’re going to work with their staff and help develop the women’s health in that whole area.”
The grant also will support the hiring of consultants with specialties in rural health, psychiatric and mental health issues, distance learning, health literacy and conflict resolution.
“One of the leading diagnoses in rural areas is psychosis, so part of the grant is bringing in content experts in rural health and psychiatric issues,” said Mielke. “Another consultant will help improve the delivery of patient education materials, making them appropriate for the health literacy needs of this population.”
Last semester, the CSUF School of Nursing tapped the CSUF Mihaylo College of Business and Economics to determine effective strategies for drawing more rural women and future health care professionals to the clinics. The report, compiled by MBA students in Susan Cadwallader’s Marketing Management 519 class, will help inform future outreach strategies.
“This project establishes a new service and academic relationship between the university and Mountains Community Hospital,” Mielke noted. “We're really excited for this opportunity, and hope it will be beneficial for our students and faculty, and their staff and patients.”