South Dakota is one of the nation’s most rural and frontier states and has the highest proportion of rural dwellers in the Midwest. Many of the state’s counties suffer from provider shortages, with nurse practitioners increasingly being called upon to fill the role of the primary care provider in clinics and critical access hospitals. However, family nurse practitioner (FNP) education programs are not required to provide the training and skills necessary to meet the unique challenges of rural practice.
An Upper Midwest land grant university prepares both masters and doctoral FNP students to fill primary care provider needs in South Dakota and the surrounding region. The purpose and scope of this two-year Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) project was to enhance an existing academic/practice partnership to prepare primary care advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) students for practice in rural and/or underserved settings in the state and region. The ANEW project provided FNP students with a longitudinal primary care clinical traineeship experience in rural clinical settings.
Trainees benefited from traineeship funds, learning advanced procedures and skill concepts through attendance at a series of educational workshops, and job placement efforts postgraduation. The ANEW project also provided for a comprehensive preceptor development collaborative designed to enhance competence and confidence for independent rural practice and facilitate job placement in rural communities after graduation.
This project strengthened the quality of FNP education through an academic/practice partnership which resulted in a symbiotic, synergistic relationship to address rural work force supply and the identification of the knowledge and skills needed for current and future rural healthcare providers.
Keywords: family nurse practitioner, education, preceptor, academic, practice partnership, rural primary healthcare, healthcare provider shortage
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