“It’s very different from the way I learned to practice originally,” said Dr. Love, whose clinical expertise is as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. “Traditionally, a real stigma surrounded mental health. Psych providers were housed away from everyone else because no one wanted it known they (patients) were seeking mental health services.”
The funds from the grant will continue to break down those barriers: An important focus of Dr. Love’s project is to foster interprofessional collaborative care at rural facilities to which students are assigned.
“A big part of this project is about learning to work with other health-care professionals,” she said. “Can we collaborate to give the best possible care to people who otherwise might not receive that care?”
Another unique element of the study involves the length of training students will receive at the sites, which include facilities in northern Arizona and outside Tucson, as well as in New Mexico and Oregon. Training will happen at one site for at least six months to support understanding of interprofessional care in rural and medically underserved locations. Typically, students participating in clinical practice move to several sites in different geographic locations and might spend no more than one semester at a single location.
“Students really will be immersed in a community of practice that will give them knowledge they might not gain at other places,” Dr. Love says.
In addition, the collaborative aspect of the study will be stressed: Students will be encouraged to attend staff meetings with other health-care professionals to help foster a team perspective. Their training also will involve working on assessments, diagnosis and treatment, giving students a thorough exposure to the challenges and rewards of working in underserved communities. Dr. Love hopes they will be inspired by their experiences and choose to seek work in those same communities following graduation.
Nine inaugural students are set for placement in the program in 2018. One of those students, Catherine Clare Dockery-Jackson, is in the final year of the specialty program and has high hopes for her time in the newly created program.
“It will allow me to experience an integrative care practice that addresses the patient more completely,” she says. “For me, nursing has always been a holistic discipline, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the clinical site will address a patient’s mental and physical needs.”