School of Nursing receives grant for residency program, clinical experiences in primary care

A $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration will support community-based primary care clinical experiences, as seen here, for students in WCU’s School of Nursing.

Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing has received a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to support a new post-baccalaureate nurse residency program and to further develop community-based primary care clinical experiences.

“Most nursing programs prepare their graduates solely for work in acute care settings, but future roles for professional nurses will be in the community,” said Kae Livsey, associate professor in the School of Nursing who is serving as lead on the project. “This award demonstrates that WCU is an emerging leader in creating programs that do just that, and we will work with the Health Resources and Services Administration and partner agencies to identify and promote cost-effective solutions for incorporating baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses in primary care practice settings.”

Tony Roberson

Services related to mental health, substance abuse treatment and primary care are often the most challenging for patients to access in Western North Carolina, said Tony Roberson, professor and director of WCU’s School of Nursing. “These issues will be addressed, in part, by curriculum enhancements in behavioral health to help nurses be better prepared to target opioid abuse, chronic pain, depression and other mental health disorders,” Roberson said. “This region is desperately in need of access to more behavioral health services. Our role in preparing nurses to address these issues is a top priority for WCU and our community partners.”

The community partners for the project include Appalachian Mountain Community Health Centers, Blue Ridge Health, Cherokee Indian Hospital, Mountain Area Health Education Center and the Mission Health System-Mission Medical Associates. These partners will be part of a regional consortium to support the grant, as well as serve as learning sites for program participants.

The Health Resources Services and Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant will be spread over four years, with other areas of funding going to curriculum on population health management, data analytics, health care reimbursement and chronic care management.

For more information, contact the School of Nursing at 828-227-7467 or visit the website