Nurse practitioner residency program launched by UC Davis Health

Nurse practitioner residency program launched by UC Davis Health

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Advanced practice residency program at Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing to provide care for underserved groups

The new residency program for nurse practitioners at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing has opened its applications. While nurse practitioner residency programs exist at other institutions, this is the first one to be funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, according to Debra Bakerjian, a School of Nursing clinical professor and principal investigator. The $3.5 million grant is monumental for the nursing community since it depicts federal recognition of the importance of nurse practitioners in primary care. 

While residency programs are common for physicians — and often federally funded — the same cannot be said for nurse practitioner residency programs. This is partially because a residency is not required for nurse practitioners. Despite this, residency programs, where health professionals get mentored by experienced clinicians to complete their medical education, are critical in preventing the disorientation that would otherwise be felt by the sudden shift from a controlled classroom environment to a busy clinic. 

“I’ve seen new nurse practitioners leave practice within the first year of their first clinic experiences because they’re so disheartened at how unprepared they were,” said Greg Stone, CEO of Peach Tree Health. “And that’s a shame, because they’re likely just needing a little extra help and coaching to get through those big transitions.”

Peach Tree Health is a non-profit organization focused on providing “personalized, affordable, high quality services,” in healthcare for underserved groups. The organization is working together with UC Davis on this federal project of creating an advanced nurse practitioner program. Centers such as Peach Tree Health will be part of the residency rotations for the 10 nurse practitioner residents to be selected each year. 

Applications are open until Jan. 6, 2020 for nurse practitioners who graduated within the past 18 months. The program is looking for family or adult gerontological nurse practitioners, specifically those interested in providing care to underserved populations. There are few residency programs in California that are similar and most are carried out by existing practices hoping to hire the selected residents. 

“We are not requiring them to actually work for UC Davis Health,” Bakerjian said.

She mentioned that the program was simply meant to provide a mentored environment

for a 12 month period, although there is hope that some nurse practitioners will choose to stay with UC Davis Health and the clinical partners of this program.

Nurse practitioners in the program will have the chance to gain experience on working with addiction, chronic illness, telehealth, pain management and wound care. 

“There is a crisis in the United States with opioid addiction,” said Christi D. Delemos, the director of advanced practice at UC Davis. “This will help prepare these nurse practitioners, through better curriculum, to better manage that crisis and more responsibly care for patients with pain.” 

She also mentioned the interest in promoting telehealth, which is meant to increase convenience and reduce economic burden for those who live in areas where visiting a medical professional can be a costly, time-consuming task. 

Convenience and economic viability are important topics for this nurse practitioner residency because a large number of the people Peach Tree Health works with have little to no insurance, according to Stone. The program is also partnered with the Sacramento County Health Center, Western Sierra Medical Clinic and other Federally Qualified Health Centers, allowing nurse practitioners to work in a variety of communities during the six month rotation that is to be part of their residency. 

Nurse practitioners are meant to take up gaps that have been left in primary care by the lack of physicians working in the field. With a large segment of the United States population aging, the availability of such care is essential. This means providing mentorship to nurse practitioners transitioning into clinic work is of increasing importance. 

“This is vital,” Stone said. “We need to give more training and more structured experience without the pressure of making a living.”

In-person interviews for the program will be conducted in February, with applicants due to be selected by early March. Selected applicants will begin the program on July 1, 2020. 

Written by: Husn Kharabanda science@theaggie.org