Northwestern State’s College of Nursing and Allied Health will receive a four-year, $675,000 grant from The Rapides Foundation to support the Foundation’s goal of increasing the number of nurse practitioners from the Central Louisiana area who can provide primary care within the Foundation’s nine-parish service area of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon or Winn parishes.
The grant funding allows Northwestern State to enroll additional students in its Master of Science in Nursing program who are pursuing primary care nurse practitioner concentrations in family, women’s health or pediatric areas, and who are from one of the nine central Louisiana parishes served by the Foundation. Students are enrolled in the program at Northwestern State’s Alexandria campus and take classes online with some face-to-face meetings.
“The combined goals of The Rapides Foundation and Northwestern State to improve healthcare and access to primary care meshed to provide this timely partnership opportunity,” said Dr. Norann Planchock, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health.
“The citizens of central Louisiana will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this project and we are excited to expand our primary care nurse practitioner offerings in this area where our nursing and radiologic science programs have had a long time presence.”
Funding from the Foundation is used to support a dedicated faculty member to lead the Central Louisiana grant project and provide stipends to students to offset some of the expenses required to pursue graduate education.
Students receive the stipend during each of the five semesters they are enrolled in the program. In exchange for receiving the stipend, students commit to seek employment in the nine-parish service area for a minimum of two years following graduation from the program.
“This partnership between Northwestern State and The Rapides Foundation has provided me the opportunity to serve as a full-time faculty member dedicated to the education of nurse practitioner students in our area,” said Assistant Professor of Nursing Robyn Ray, a family nurse practitioner who receives support from the grant.
“As a local resident, I not only teach classes and supervise clinical experiences; I am also readily available to provide other student services such as advisement, course assistance, recruitment, and personal interaction with students throughout their enrollment.”
Boothe said the stipend has been a big help to him as he continues his studies.
“It has allowed me to focus on my training without having to worry about added expense,” said Boothe. “I’m glad there is an organization like The Rapides Foundation with such a strong commitment to improving health care in the region. I’m grateful for their support.”
According to Boothe, many people in his community often have to go long distances to get needed health care.
“I can help fill a need for people in my community and prevent them from having to drive so much,” said Boothe. “I live in a rural area and that’s where I want to stay and raise a family. With the family nurse practitioner credential, I can practice in a clinical setting closer to home.”
Northwestern State and The Rapides Foundation have established a minimum target of 24 qualified nurse practitioners to complete the program and seek employment in Central Louisiana.