Partnerships for Training: Regional Education Systems for Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse-Midwives and Physician Assistants

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Program: January 1995 through April 2009

Field of Work: Increasing the number of primary care providers in federally designated Medically Underserved Areas of the United States.

Problem Synopsis: In 1994, millions of Americans lived in federally designated Medically Underserved Areas, where access to primary health care services was limited by a shortage of primary care practitioners: physicians trained in primary care, nurse-practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants.

Synopsis of the Work: Partnerships for Training developed eight regional education systems to increase the number of primary care providers in federally designated Medically Underserved Areas of the United States. The partnerships used distance education (e.g., Web- and interactive video-based courses) to educate nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife and physician assistant students in underserved areas.

Key Results

  • Eight grantee organizations represented 13 states, 38 academic institutions and one other educational partner and 74 community partners.

  • They enrolled 1,140 nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife and physician assistant students from underserved areas and graduated 754 students (as of June 2003).

  • Faculty developed 109 distance-based (primarily Web-based) courses, of which at least 37 were interdisciplinary.

  • Some 46 academic institutions and other program participants developed the capacity to train nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants from a distance, primarily using online education.

  • The assessment conducted by the national program office found that 90 percent of graduates were practicing in medically underserved areas and if distance education were not available, 70 percent of the students would probably not have enrolled in their programs.

    The academic institutions participating in seven of the eight sites continued to provide distance education to nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant students, and many expanded their focus to include other health professionals and create additional programs.

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